First things first

First things first

Just a hop, skip and jump, and we’re back in Hipville! The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane was how cool it was in LA. I think the temps must’ve been in the 70’s with a cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific. For a moment, it felt more like spring than smack in the middle of summer.

My first cup of coffee came out of desperation a Keurig coffee maker. Wide awake at 4 o’clock in the morning due to the 15-hour time difference, I could either try to go back to sleep except I’ve been lying there for an hour and clearly nothing’s happening. Or I could down a cup of freshly dripped coffee to shock the jetlag out of my system.

First things first

Along with lack of sleep always comes pangs of hunger. I swear a great deal of energy is expended by the body in trying to deal with the confusion of the internal clock. This, by the way, is a great time to catch up with all that food I’ve been missing.

First stop, Baja. I tell ya there’s much more to that grilled shrimp salad than meets the eye. Each mouthful is like music to my tastebuds. That’s how much I’ve missed Mexican food. Sorry about the glare in the photo. We were seated by the glass wall and the mid-morning sun was pouring in.

First things first

Next stop, Round Table. Notice how the toppings go all the way to the very edge of the pizza instead of stopping short, leaving a 1-inch outer ring of plain pizza dough with zero topping.

First things first

And it’s open season for fruits again. I really needed to take a break from Korean pears (inside joke lol) but ended up buying a 6-pack of apple pears (not in picture). Talk about old habits.

I also bought a huge watermelon which was so juicy and sweet we devoured half of it in just one day. Strawberries and blueberries are in season too, so plump, sweet and inexpensive. Happy days!

First things first

Clairity/

Dessert, to the uninitiated

Dessert, to the uninitiated

We were in the middle of dinner at home on a Thursday night when Hip2bDad broached the idea of going out for dessert. It took a while for the idea to sink in.

Usually you’d hear me say we went out for dinner, the end. A few times a year, we might have a random cake or ice cream if we happen to be out, or if there’s something to celebrate. But getting dressed after dinner and heading out for dessert just for the dessert, now that’s a new concept to us!

By now, you’re thinking, what’s wrong with these people, you don’t eat dessert?! We do. But to us, dessert = fruits. I know, I’m a bad mom. Like me, my kids were raised with ‘dessert’ being a low frequency word. They’d get cake only on their birthdays and maybe a couple times a year when there’s something to celebrate bwahaha.

Anyhoo, we jumped into our shorts, then into the car and promptly arrived at one of those new-fangled green tea dessert places I didn’t even know existed. I sat back and left dad and daughters to figure out the orders. It doesn’t matter to me because I’ll just have one or two bites here and there, and that’s it.

Well, they came back with 2 kinds of green tea ice cream cones – matcha and hojicha.

Dessert, to the uninitiated

These two cones went round the table a couple of times and everyone made funny contorted faces after each slurp. There was a huge discussion on which one tasted better or none of the above, but we couldn’t quite reach a consensus. So Hip2bDad graciously ended up gobbling both. We can always count on him!

Then like a man on a mission, he led us down the street in search of another dessert joint. Here again, I sat back and waited to see what they’d ordered. First up, this honey toast. Tis a thicker-than-thou slice of white bread slathered with salted butter, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (which was wasted on us).

Dessert, to the uninitiated

Hip2bDaughter1’s friends had ordered this on one of their outings and she wanted us to try it. At a glance, it didn’t strike me that this was nothing more than bread with ice cream. But once the price sank in, I was like, I could bake 25 loaves of this and then some. Price-worthiness is as big a consideration as taste, but that’s just me.

Here, the overwhelming saltiness of the butter and barely-there sweetness of the ice cream gave me the shivers. We thought adding honey would balance things up but it only pushed it to a hyper-sweet-and-salty level that sent my tastebuds into spasms.

On the other hand, this peach frozen yogurt shake topped with peaches, blueberries and yes, flowers was perhaps a little too pretty to eat? drink?

Dessert, to the uninitiated

Well, eat it, drink it, we did. The aftertaste, however, could’ve been less reminiscent of cough mixture. The general consensus is that frozen yogurt is thicker and closer to the consistency of sorbet. But I guess this being a shake means it’s meant to be drinkable with a straw – maybe?

And that’s all the dessert we ordered for the 4 of us. For me, the best part of our dessert escapade is their jasmine water. Anytime a restaurant Here offers water free of charge, I say 잘 했어 (thumbs up). Water is a basic human right and diners shouldn’t be made to pay for it.

By the way, this jasmine water is delicious… and refillable so it gets a standing ovation from me.

Dessert, to the uninitiated

So that was dessert night out for the uninitiated. In the end, it was the jasmine water that won the day. For me, at least. So while this has been a really fun random food adventure for us, I doubt we’d be doing this too often. Peace out!

Clairity/

Mom’s hair salon

Mom's hair salon

If you’re a mom, you’ll agree that moms have the world’s most unexpected job specifications, often running into uncharted territory, such as Chief Executive Hairdresser, for instance. One without proper qualifications, I might add lol.

Back in college, I used to attack my bangs every once in a while. It was the only part of my hair that needed maintenance. Since I have an aversion to hair salons, this worked out perfectly. And that’s all the ‘training’ and experience I have.

When time came for my kids to have their first haircuts, I naturally assumed it was my job. Taking them to the hair salon was never an option. It might have to do with having witnessed kids being hauled up by their parents, kicking and screaming, and pinned down to that dreaded chair so a complete stranger, armed with a deadly weapon, could attempt to snip off what little hair they had.

I couldn’t bear to think of subjecting my kids to that kind of trauma. So when it came time for my firstborn to have his first ever haircut, I took it upon myself. If I could cut my own hair, a kid’s hair should be a piece of cake and it’s not like he’s going to see the Queen, right?

Mom's hair salon

Image credit

So that’s how far back Hip to be Mom’s home hair salon goes. I designed my bathroom to be 3 times bigger than normal so I’d have enough wriggle room to turn it into a hair salon every few weeks. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right? lol Don’t even get me started on the things I’ve done to child-proof the house.

And so that’s how I ended up being my children’s hairdresser from kindy through college, and all the years in between. Those early haircuts were without struggles. My kids would sit there quietly and patiently while I danced around them. Cutting boys’ hair or even layered haircut for girls isn’t hard. It just needs confidence and some juggling skills.

I probably don’t say this enough but my kids are such sweethearts about a lot of things, which is why I’ve been inspired to do things with/for them that I might otherwise have been hesitant to try. They always cheer me on and tell me I do a good job – and in this case, give me the Nike assurance: “it’s okay, Mom, hair will grow back so just do it!” – and I love them for it.

There was a spell during their teen years when I got lazy found Nick and sent them on their merry way. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know Nick. He was just some random guy who had a different hairstyle and color every other day. But I figured, well, if he had hair like a k-popper, he should be okay. Yup, I’m deep like that lol.

Nick the Pro would definitely be able to cater to a whole range of different hair styles that I couldn’t possibly offer. “Kids, you’re not babies any more. It’s time you went to a pro. Nick does a better job than me. So off you go!”

And just like that, I washed my hands off this whole hairy business. Or so I thought…

(to be continued)

Clairity/

That guitar

We passed by the music school where my kids used to go for guitar classes. I remember the teacher recommending the guitar we should buy. Those were crazy days of endless bus runs. To save myself the time and trouble of shopping around, I ended up buying a guitar from their in-house store which, as I found out later, was priced higher than at other stores. Back then, if I’d known, I’d have taken advantage of the stupid deal of the day at musiciansfriend.com.

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

Happiness is finding a new place to add to the Pearl (Picky Eaters’ Approved Restaurant List). We stumbled on this great little Korean fast food place that passed our taste test with flying colors. Well, stumbled isn’t exactly the word. We’ve walked past it a million times and even scoffed at the menu a few times (that was before the Great K Revolution, of course).

The million dollar question is this: How could we have walked past so often and never thought to stop? Well, we couldn’t tell from the pictures on the menu if the food would be good. Thing is we’re not in the habit of staring openly at people’s food as we walk past their tables. It’s rude to stare especially when people are eating. My children were trained never to do that and if they did, they’d no doubt have heard from me!

I’m not sure what made us step in. As with all new places that we’re trying out, we didn’t order much. The Chicken BBQ came with rice in a K bowl (no less), seaweed soup and 3 side dishes  I wish it came with a Korean name as well, like maybe 치킨 바비쿄. But even without that, the grilled chicken is flavorful, mildly sweet and not too salty.

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

The 닭 볶음 (dak bokeum), or stir-fried chicken in chilly sauce had a good mix of veggies in it. It’s reminiscent of 김치 찌개 (kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew). The tangy, spicy sauce was lip-smackin’ good till the last drop. Even the Colonel would agree heh!

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

As for the 3 반찬 (banchan, or side dishes), there’s 김치 (kimchi), 밀치금 (anchovies) and a random third dish. The kimchi isn’t as crunchy as I’d like it to be but I love the anchovies.

The 파전 (pajeon, or Korean pancake) may look unassuming but don’t be fooled, there’s hidden squid in the batter, and veggies you can actually see. Most restaurants would just serve this ‘blank’, and charge more for the loaded version. I like the light crunch in this pancake. The sauce is okay, a bit too salty so we dip it in the dak bokeum sauce.

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

On another occasion, I surprised myself by ordering their 비빔 국수 (bibim guksu). Remember I swore off cold noodles the first time I ate them because to me, there’s only one way to eat noodles – piping hot.

Then one fine day, I found a stash of buckwheat noodles in my kitchen (I didn’t buy ’em), concocted a meal with them and fell in love, either with the noodles or my own cooking, I don’t know which 😝. Yeah, that was random even for me. But I ended up loving every mouthful of those buckwheat noodles eaten warm, of course, not cold.

Fast forward to when I saw bibim guksu on the menu and jumped at it without even thinking. Thankfully they weren’t served cold but were room temp instead. Awesome, I wouldn’t have had them any other way. Yums.

Of staring, fast food and not so cold noodles

So it’s happy days. We’ve been back many times, and now even the restaurant staff know our faces and orders and give us a special discount. Yes, they have a customer-friendly team unlike the usual ones with fake amnesia. “Why you not early today?” the cute waiter asked when we strolled in on a weekend lunch hour and couldn’t find a table. He found us one pretty quick. Now that’s service for ya!

Clairity/

All hail, the mighty kale!

All hail, the mighty kale!

And so here’s my kale story. There was too much talk about kale to ignore. Heard all about it being top spot on the super food pedestal. That was long ago. Kale, avocado, and coconut have since made way for kefir, soylent, and burrito, I hear, hohoho.

Whatever it is, not being one to jump blindly onto any old bandwagon that passes by, I was unperturbed. That’s my general reaction to the iPad, organic food, big breakfasts, any kind of trend fad that has people climbing their fork tines and leaping off their bowls. Let the world go crazy. Leave me alone. I’m staying put.

Stay put, I did, for the longest time. My eyes would pan over everything else in the produce section seeking out my usual veggie choices but skipping over the kale altogether. I tend to get comfortable with the regular veggies that I know and love, and kinda like to stick with those.

If I bought kale, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Where life is kinda laid back without any of that city madness, I feel like there’s no need to put my brain into high gear. So I thought, nyet, I won’t bother figuring out something new. Let me plog along with my spinach, broccoli and asparagus, thanks.

Until one fine day, I noticed kale going for only 99 cents a bundle. I had no idea super food was so inexpensive. Now that’s not bad at all. Even if I mess it up and it turns out funky, it wouldn’t be such a waste. So I started peeking left and right trying to spot the biggest bundle. Guess I lucked out. Look, a whole tree!

All hail, the mighty kale!

They’re usually tied together neatly in a bundle with no protruding stems but this one was different. Even the cashier laughed and went, “What’s this?” as she puzzled over the 2 plastic bags I used to tame this tree. (By the way, this picture was taken over the open door of Mrs Dolores, our beloved dish washer who fights crime grime with a rattle and a slosh!)

Okay, so now what do I do with my kale? I tried to imagine it juiced but my brain didn’t like how it tasted. So I figured I’d just, what, stir-fry it with, what else, garlic!?? I don’t know, I’ve never fried a tree before, have you?

All hail, the mighty kale!

Well, the tree was huge and filled a big bowl so we ate half and saved the rest. And the taste? Well, if our tongues could taste colors, kale would be dark green and bitter but a bitterness with depth, quite different from the shallow bitterness of bitter gourd. It’s not hard to swallow. We like it. Even my used-to-say-no-to-veggie kids.

Paired with this shrimp and tomato dish, it’s even better. The tangy brightness of the tomatoes takes the edge off the kale’s deep bitterness and they balance each other out perfectly. 먹을 만에요. It’s actually not bad.

So yeah, we worship kale now quite religiously. It’s a regular in our grocery cart. Not because it is or was a trend but because we really like it. You knew that 😉!

Clairity/

Lines and people who annoy me

Lines and people who annoy me

바빴어요! (Been busy). So many errands, so little time. Granted I do procrastinate for as long as I can because well, who likes errands? I don’t. That’s why I want to get through them quickly so they won’t be hanging over my head like bananas in a fruit shop. The errands themselves 몬제 아니야 (aren’t the problem). It’s those darned lines and the characters I meet.

(1) The Pretenders

Over the weekend, a couple tried to edge themselves into our line while pretending to be so deep in conversation they didn’t notice there was a line? Nice try but “please get back in line”, we told them and they slunked quietly away.

In another daring episode, a woman pretending like she was all engrossed in talking on her cellphone planted herself in front of us. We were busy sorting through our shopping basket so I was like, okay, never mind.

But when time came for this woman to pay, she took her own sweet time digging out coin after coin to which Hip2bDaughter turned around and said to us, loudly enough to be heard, “Some people cut in line and don’t even have their change ready”.

And you know what. As the cashier was bagging her stuff, she turned around and started to chime into our conversation with her unsolicited advice as if she were our old friend. Seriously! The cheek of some people! As if chatting us up would somehow redeem her from her rudeness. Nope, not working!

(2) The Make-No-Boners

In another the grocery line episode, a woman cradling a few items casually walked up and stood in front of me. I eyed her for a while thinking, okay, maybe she’s with the group in front of me. It soon became clear she wasn’t. I gave her a minute and I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer. “The line is back there. Please get in line!” I wasn’t being nasty, just matter of fact.

Reluctantly she scooped up her items and wandered away… and even as I watched, she cut straight into someone else in the next line. She’s a diehard, that one lol! People like her don’t need an excuse. They just assume it’s their inalienable right. The best part is the person she cut off didn’t object and let her through. Great way to embolden chronic line cutters like her!

Now here’s the joke. The man at the top of my checkout line heard me and shook his head casting me a look of disapproval. I notice many people don’t honk when someone cuts them off in traffic and the next thing, I see them doing it themselves. I can only conclude that this guy’s probably a line cutter himself since he sympathized with her (even when it was none of his business).

(3) That-Cashier’s-My-Friend-ers

One day, I was standing in the bank with my number slip in hand. There were several people ahead of me. Only two counters were open, my car was double-parked outside, and the wait was longer than I cared for. Guess what?

A couple walked in and went straight up to one of the counters right after the last person left and before the next number came up. Instantly there was a friendly exchange and the cashier went ahead with their transaction. I guess if your friend works there, that makes it okay to act like you own the place and ignore everyone else.

Lines and people who annoy me

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Seriously, line cutters are such a pain. Everyone’s busy. Everyone’s in a hurry. You’re not the only one. I want to get my stuff done fast so I can get the heck home, out of the traffic, out of the sun. Just as you do, So yeah! Have some respect for other people’s time, and get the heck in line.

I’m a reasonable person. If you come up to me with a good reason why you should be ahead of me when clearly I got there first, I’m all ears. If you have a genuine emergency or truly deserve it, I’d be more than happy to give you my spot. Otherwise please stop wasting my time AND the time of everyone else behind me who’ve been waiting endlessly. They too are busy. They too are in a hurry. Tsk!

Peace out!

Clairity/
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