Carrot at the end of the yawn

Carrot at the end of the yawn
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I’ll be honest. Grocery runs are getting to be a big old yawn. Things seem to be the same old, same old at the grocery store every week. I can think of grocery stores where each season brings new and exciting fruits, vegetables and products and where there’s always a yummy surprise waiting around the corner. Just a mirage, I tell myself, just a mirage, ain’t happenin’ here, just keep movin’, let’s get this over with.

The only bright spark in my grocery runs these days is lunch. Yeah, that’s right, at the very least, if nothing else, there’s that delicious carrot dangling in front of me as I run into the same old grocery dead ends. The thought of lunch inspires me to get my shopping done faster and if there’s self-checkout, you can bet I’ll be rushing over there versus the regular lines.

Once out the door, me and my shopping cart will be racing in the direction of food. Okay, so it’s obvious that a picky eater doesn’t have a whole lot of choices. What to eat, what to eat? Most times, to make life simple, I just go for the same thing. No point taxing my brains too much. I just wanna plant myself at a cool spot and chow down, know what I mean?

After eliminating a whole bunch of the things I don’t or won’t eat, there’s not much left really. But on occasion, I do get lucky and manage to assemble a small feast such as this. Freshly-made spring rolls, ondeh-ondeh (desiccated coconut-coated balls with brown sugar filling) and sushi, that’s a meal right there.

Carrot at the end of the yawn

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of this. I couldn’t if I tried nor would I want to try. Years of lunching with the Folks from Finance have taught me to do the math. If it works out cheaper in ‘bulk’, go for the ‘bulk’. This worked out even better because everything came in boxes that I can just chuck the leftovers into my ecobag and be on my way.

Though everything here was passable, I wish the spring rolls were less sweet and the ondeh-ondeh much less diabetic. As for the sushi, I’m not usually a big fan but these ones are okay because of the ratio of rice versus filling.

Carrot at the end of the yawn

These sushis are scarce, almost non-existent on wasabi, hence BYO handy-dandy wasabi! Sure, they do sell little wasabi packets at checkout but the portions are tiny and they somehow look stale and unappetizing to me. And that’s all, folks, as far as lunch is concerned. till it’s time for the next big ya-aawn!

Humanity at its best

Humanity at its best
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As I watched the events around the Tham Luang cave rescue of the Thai soccer team and coach unfold, I began to realize that this was more than a miracle, that there was something mystical, maybe even spiritual about this whole thing (one of which was the fact that the water pumps only failed after the last person had been rescued and the remaining rescue crew were able to get out in the nick of time).

I also began noticing some pretty amazing things happening on many levels, things we see too little of these days. My observations are based on what I’ve culled from the news, of course and these are merely some of my thoughts.

Humanity at its best

It’s interesting to see how the kids and their soccer coach were a team from start to end. I’m inclined to believe they survived because they worked and stayed together as a solid team, leaning on each other through the entire ordeal. From all accounts, it was the coach who was instrumental in keeping everyone together but it also helped that the boys listened to him and followed his lead.

To me, it seems like they’re a family. We may not normally think of a family as a team but in actual fact, it is. Very much so. So why are there families pulling away from each other, showing little compassion or empathy towards each other and sidelining each other? Food for thought, eh?

Then there were the expressions of gratitude all round. In the first video of the team being found, you can hear the kids saying ‘thank you’ to the British divers without being prompted by anyone. In handwritten letters, parents thanked the coach for taking care of their kids, and the coach apologized to the parents. In hospital videos and the press conference, the kids thanked their rescuers and parents over and over.

What’s more amazing is that the rescuers in turn thanked the survivors for trusting them to pull off a successful rescue. I mean, getting a regular thank you from people is hard enough these days. What more for someone who’s saved your life to thank you for putting your trust and your life in their hands? And to dismiss their heroics as merely ‘putting their skills to use’ – wow, that humility! Man, this is so beautiful *cries*!

Then there were the thousands of random strangers who dropped what they were doing and came running from all over the world to help in any which way they could and I’m just going, wow, just wow. It didn’t matter what they could offer, they just rolled up their sleeves and figured a way to dive in (literally and figuratively) somehow, even risking their own life and limb. I really salute these people.

Those who couldn’t help directly in the rescue found other ways they could jump in. One lady collected the rescuers’ soiled clothing from the cave every evening and stayed up all night doing their laundry which she returned before the dawn of each new day of rescue operations. One man spent his days offering free rides to and from the cave site on his motorbike. Farmers allowed their crops to be ruined by water drained from the cave. So many unsung heroes who made sacrifices for a bunch of kids they likely don’t even know!

So yeah, I think these past weeks have shown us humanity at its best. Most days I don’t bother reading the news because it just gets too depressing and ridiculous sometimes. It’s been refreshing to look away from our daily fixation on food and material life for just a bit and redirect that energy instead to cheering for the efforts of our fellow human beings and praying for a positive outcome to this crisis. My faith in humankind has somehow been restored.

The (almost) perfect wantan noodle soup

The (almost) perfect wantan noodle soup
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I’m a picky eater. That’s long been established. There are some eateries I go to once and never go back and yet there are some that I just can’t resist going back to again and again. Recently I found a place that serves an almost perfect wantan (little dumplings) noodle soup. Great but what exactly is so good about it to a picky eater like me?

The real test of great wantan noodles is in how rich and flavorful the soup is. To that end, it must have a natural sweetness without being insanely salty (as is often the case) or so watered down it’s plain salt water. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been disappointed by soups like that.

To me, the soup is what counts, everything else is a bonus if it tastes good. If I’m ordering at an unfamiliar eatery, the dry version is the one I go for. It comes with a small bowl of soup which makes the perfect test sample to help me decide if I should order the full-blown soup version the next time.

The (almost) perfect wantan noodle soup

So that’s what I did when I first tried out a certain ‘new’ eatery stashed away at the top of a mall. Surprise, surprise! Their soup is pretty darned good, even by the standards of my picky palette. It’s richer than most and flavorful without tasting like it came from the Dead Sea lol.

The (almost) perfect wantan noodle soup

Veggie-wise, there’s definitely more than the usual 2 or 3 sad-looking green slivers you find floating in most soups. These are actual bokchoy stems in their own right.

Their wantans are not the usual pathetic skins with nothing more than a comma of meat inside, so small they instantly get lodged in your teeth. These are stuffed with abundant minced pork and like a whole shrimp? wow! and plump to the point of obesity that you have to eat them in two bites. So good!!

The (almost) perfect wantan noodle soup

Their charsiew (or barbecued pork) is unattractive and boring but I don’t mind that they lack the gleaming glamor of their caramelized melt-in-the-mouth cousins which would usually render them overly-charred and blackened and quite unpalatable to me.

So then, this, to me, is as close to a perfect bowl of wantan noodle soup as it gets. Good soup, plump meaty wantans, real veggies and unglamorous charsiew. This picky eater is laughing and has gone back several times since.

Between a cuppa and a sippa

Between a cuppa and a sippa
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So one exceptionally fine morning on the dawn of a new day maybe, I found myself sitting in some corner cafe having ordered myself an early lunch. When it came, I noticed the portion was rather yuge. My lunches aren’t usually this heavy but I had a growling tummy to appease so what the heck!

Between a cuppa and a sippa

Not only did I dig in shamelessly, I licked the platter clean! If I’m hungry, I eat. I don’t care if it’s the right or wrong time to be eating like a pauper or a king, or how many “guilt trips” I’m supposed to run round the park afterwards. Bunch of bologna! Our grandparents did just fine before all this nonsense started circulating. So yeah, just do what your body tells ya and you’ll be fine!

Oh yes, and I even ordered a drink!

Which I’m so not in the habit of doing. Instead I’m used to getting the slanted eye for refusing to order a drink. Oooh, I’m so shivering in my shoes! But like it or not, it’s a habit of mine cultivated from when I was that new kid on the office block. A group of us would frequent the cafes and eateries near the office daily.

When most everyone else would order a drink, I would almost inadvertently say no. My logic is really quite simple. Why order a drink when the office is 5 minutes away and all the drinks I could ever want are right there in that pantry? It doesn’t make sense!

But if I’m feeling happy and relaxed or craving a certain kind of drink, I’d certainly pamper myself with one. Like on this particular day when I really wanted something to sip on while settling in to read a book.

Between a cuppa and a sippa

A book, you say?! Yeah, this is probably the first book I’m reading in something like 20 years but I’m not ashamed to admit it. Hey, I’ve been busy devoting all of my energy on being the best mom I could be and somehow in the midst of all that rushing around, never found the patience nor the inclination to sit through a book.

What good fortune that I should suddenly find a book in my hand and the time to read it at leisure over a glass of coffee and tea! And that’s got to be a good thing, right? *lifts up glass* Cheers!

Days like this

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Okay, so it’s a sizzlin’ 106 degrees outside. It’s been hovering steady at these temps all week. That’s the heatwave for ya, all up and down the west coast of California and the southwest in general. Good thing we’re back from our road trip to Arizona (it’s even hotter there, ouch!) or you’d hear me swearing from way out there (not that I swear. that much!)

Inside the house, however, it’s a different story. We haven’t set foot outside today. Not one step. Yup, best to stay cool even if it may be a little stuffy at times with the windows shut tight to keep out the hot air. Thankfully the air-conditioning is behaving.

So here we are, on this sizzler of a day. The first phone alarm goes off at 5:30 this morning. I stumble across the room in true zombie fashion to swipe the freakin’ thing off and jump back into bed. Mid-dream, someone else’s phone alarm goes off. Who the heck sets the alarm to 6:02 anyways? Okay, okay, it was ME!

I transport said phone to my bedside table knowing it’ll ring again soon and I’m certainly not going to go tripping across the room for the third time. The next time it rings, my arm swings out and I blindly and furiously tap my screen till the music stops. Note to self: I really shouldn’t use a song I like as an alarm. Now I kinda hate that song.

Okay, okay, I’m up, I’m up! If I sound like I really don’t want to get up, I’m lying! Thoughts of that delicious cup of morning coffee sends me off like an arrow, headed straight to ye ol’ electric kettle to turn it on. And that jingle is playing in my head, the same one I learned from the TV commercial during my college days – the best part of waking up is Folgers in my cup!

I take, oh maybe, a half hour over my bowl of oats and coffee, savoring the still and quiet of the morning as I potter around the house and the internet before anyone else is awake. That, for me, is the best part of waking up with the sun.

Soon the house is awake with sounds of Hip2bDaughter2 concocting her potato soup from scratch in the kitchen. By this time, I’m hungry. Again. I need to eat. But with lunch time technically 3 hours away, what am I supposed to do to assuage a growling tummy?

Thank goodness for leftovers. But is the single serving of rice and braised pork ribs from last night enough for us? Clearly not! So should we have the potato soup now? The answer is, why not?! Potato soup and crackers it is! That’s how we end up finishing lunch at 9:30am.

And needless to say, by the time the real lunch time rolls around, we’re famished. Poking my head into the refrigerator, I find the last bit of banana cake we baked last week for our Arizona road trip. Whew! I’m glad someone thought to defrost it.

By mid-afternoon, the naughty knotty tummies are a-calling yet again and this time, it’s some sun chips, dates and a half grapefruit each. By dinner time, it’s really beginning to feel like we haven’t stopped eating since breakfast, which is technically true.

Still, dinner is certainly not to be missed. Soon ’em chicken wings be in the oven (on such a hot day?! you better believe it!) and a whole pound of ’em asparagus (which is in season at $1.99 per lb so it’s been asparagus 3 nights in a row!) be saute-in’ in the skillet.

Man, I love me days like this, just hanging out at home chillin’ and drinkin’ (lots of water!), with no place to go and nothing much to do and piles of unwashed dishes in the sink, that make life in the hometown so cool. Did I just say cool?!

 

Long days and the deception of work

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When my morning alarm goes off, I jump up with a start thinking that I’ve overslept because the sun’s shining so bright it’s like high noon outside. I stumble across to my cell phone at the other side of the room and whew, it’s only 6-ish. To those of us who’re constantly complaining that we don’t have enough hours in a day to get everything done, these unseasonably, incredibly long summer spring days are a dream come true.

Getting an early start knowing you have a full 15 hours of daylight ahead of you is a great feeling. While it’s technically not quite summer yet, Summer seems intent on elbowing Spring swiftly out of the way. And if our air-conditioning weren’t acting up so often, that great feeling might easily be a superlative. Except the darned thing keeps blowing hot air instead of cold.

So between toasty temperatures and cranky AC, we figured we really must do something about it. We did the next best thing: jump in the car and drive to San Francisco to escape the heat. Well, okay, the heat was one thing but our real excuse was the Memorial Day sales. Now if you’re a serious shopaholic, you don’t just stand there doing nothing when it’s raining discounts and promos out there.

Two productive days of retail therapy later, I’m happy to report we have a few, not many bagfuls of spoils to show for our hard work. Shopping is work? You’d better believe it! Do you know how many pairs of jeans I had to try on before I found my one true love? And don’t even get me started on the shoes. Sifting through rack after rack, shelf after shelf, hunting down your size, waiting in line for the fitting room clutching armfuls of clothes, yeah!

But it’s only when you get into the fitting room that’s when the real work (or workout, depending on how you look at it) begins. You’re doing countless squats trying on a pile of jeans and your ankle socks keep coming off with your jeans and you’re doing countless bends to get them back on. At some point, I hear someone saying, to heck with these socks, I’m leaving them off. But not me, I hate stepping on the cold, sandy floor and getting my bare feet dirty… so I keep on keeping on with the battle of the socks!

So yeah, it would seem, and I’m not even going to fault you for thinking, that it’s been all play and no work around here lol. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know that around here, the term ‘work’ often takes on meanings that are worlds away from how others may view it.

Peace out… uttered with tongue in cheek.

Music uncringed, maybe

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I’m watching a miniseries where a guy walks into a night club grimacing at the cringe-worthy music that’s blasting away. It seems the regular DJ is away so he decides to jump in and set things right.

He figures this DJing thing can’t be that hard even though he hasn’t the faintest idea what a epiphone les paul studio at guitarcenter.com even means. Next thing you know, he starts fiddling with the buttons and gadgets driving everyone and their eardrums into a frenzy.

What happens next? I don’t know, guess imma keep watching to find out!

A weekend of baking

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I was baking some bread in the kitchen when I heard thunder. What? Thunder? It’s been weeks since we had rain over here so naturally I was surprised. The rain usually comes in quiet until you hear it pattering against windows. I rushed over to the window to see for myself. And there it was! Huge raindrops starting to form on the pavement!

While waiting for my homemade bread to rise, I watched a bunch of Youtube videos on Mediterranean cooking on my phone and received a text from my friend about Musicians Friend ultimate support. My timer went off and I went to check on the bread. Needless to say, it was beautiful! Even more so when it was out of the oven!

I just couldn’t help but make two more loaves of bread the next day. It was just too delicious and the weather was perfect!

People on planes

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After weeks of rain and cold winds, it’s nice to step outside and find that the sun is out and shining brightly! I like that the weather is getting warmer so I don’t have to think about struggling with big coats and layering.

It seemed like a pleasant day to call up my good old friend and ask her how she was doing after her recent trip to Australia. She said she met a guy on the plane back home who wouldn’t stop talking about how he bought
bose soundtrue around ear at Guitar Center for his two nephews. The only time he stopped talking, she told me, was to get a cup of noodles. Then he was back to talking again. I can’t imagine how that must’ve been like for her!

The little musician

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We were having dinner one night with a friend and her family. It was my first time meeting her little girl who is quite the all-rounder. Although her days are packed with school activities, she somehow manages to fit in dancing and music lessons.

In the midst of telling us about her music lessons, her mom invited us to her very first concert next month. There’ll be various other performances featuring even a QSC touchmix pro. Sounds pretty interesting!

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