Why I love paper bags

My regular grocery store makes us pack our own groceries and passes on those savings to us in the form of lower prices. What a wonderful thing, right? Oh wait, there’s more!

At the end of the checkout line, there’s also a choice of plastic or paper bags to use. No prizes for guessing which one is my number one choice. The paper bags, of course! It’s one of those times I get to feel good about doing my teeny tiny part for the environment.

Not to mention that carrying my groceries in a paper bag is pure nostalgia. In my college days, I’d be hugging two paper bags stuffed to the brim with the week’s groceries. I swear they were so heavy I almost felt I would lose my grip and drop everything.

I recycle all my paper bags and use them for trash. That makes me feel much better than tossing out plastic bags which I know are going to that landfill to choke up the environment for a million years. And that’s not funny! at all!! Go hug a paper bag instead!

Reflecting on 2015

Here we are, on a freezing cold last day of the year. Yeah, it has been unseasonably cold this winter. Still that’s not going to dampen my mood. It’s bright and sunny out. I don’t see why this last post of the year can’t be exactly that! Let me see… so what piqued my interest in 2015.

Cooking firsts

This has been a year of cooking up a storm of new recipes and ending up loving all of them. Seriously I don’t think there’s anything we didn’t like and that includes my homemade cranberry sauce and vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing. As for my Asian cooking, which isn’t my forte, I’m laughing that I managed to cook these.

  • out of this world radish soup
  • steamed egg with homemade salted egg – a little watery from the condensation but still good
  • glutinous black rice soup
  • gajinamul (eggplant Korean sidedish)
  • ginger and spring onion tilapia fillets (always loved this at Chinese restaurants but didn’t think I could wing it at home without a recipe)
  • charsiew (barbecue) pork steak – omg, totally awesome!

New loves

  • Beef stew noodles, where have you been all my life? Omg, I can’t even begin to describe the intensity of this rich beefy soup made with 9 herbs and spices that our favorite Chinese restaurant chef says he brings in from San Francisco. Confession, I’ve never eaten tripe and never thought I’d like it so much!
  • Shrimp tempura in a box? C’mon, no way!! But yes, finally we don’t have to look sadly at those one or two pitiful shrimp tempura peeking out of a sparsely populated bento box. Now we can eat plump crispy shrimp tempura till we bounce up and down like helium balloons.
  • Tin roof sundae, bartlett pears, apple pears, grapefruit – what’s not to love?
  • Sampling food at Costco where they give out portions you can actually taste instead of those measly microscopic bits that do nothing more than get stuck in your teeth.
  • Going to basketball games and cheering like a crazy LOL.

Learning experiences

  • People can promise you the world but it doesn’t mean they will deliver. Lots of those around.
  • Bring cupcakes to a potluck. Everyone loves ’em.
  • Don’t waste your time on b*tches, witches and ditchers.
  • Don’t settle for lukewarm Vietnamese noodle soup. It tastes better piping hot.
  • When in drought, go to a car wash. It’s fun watching the soap bubbles dribble down the windows and it’s even more fun vacuuming the car yourself.

Okay, and I’m off to bake an orange cake. Have a safe and amazing 2016. Happy New Year!

One, two, three cupcakes

One, two, three cupcakes

I ate one cupcake.

Then another.

Then another.

That’s kind of a big deal for me. I rarely eat cake and even when I do, I hardly ever finish a whole slice on my own. I’m what you might call a cake nibbler.

These were part of the 30+ batch we baked for a holiday party potluck, and to give away to profs and friends. We only managed to fit 15 cupcakes into this box…

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… which means we got to keep the rest for ourselves. That’s how I ended up eating 3 cupcakes after dinner one night.

I’m notorious for not icing my cakes, not a fan but since we were giving these away, I was obliged to get up early to top a few with berry icing… which, even I have to admit, was a really nice change from the usual.

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So that was one sweet afternoon spent baking. By the time we were done, the whole house was nice and warm, and we had some rare tea time treats to enjoy!

Monday morning ramblings

I’m in a rambling mood today, sorta so just ignore me while I ramble away…

So here’s the story about last weekend at the grocery store. A staff was loading up the shelves. He had boxes and a cart along one side of the aisle. I was walking past to get to the other end of the aisle when two bottles of sauce (looked like mayo) fell off his cart, crashed onto the floor and some of it splattered onto my clothes, face and hair. I got a new look instantly. A mayo makeover, if you will…

… and last night, did anyone see the super moon? We got pretty excited about it earlier in the evening but when 7:00pm rolled around, we were getting ready to sit down for dinner, so we figured, forget it, growling tummies get first priority, we can always catch the super moon on live feed later. Well, it wouldn’t be live any more but …

… yeah, so scientists found water on Mars, liquid water that flows on the surface of the planet in spring and summer, a sure sign of life, but then they determined that water to be too cold for anything on Earth to survive in. Agreed, Earthlings may not be able to survive on Mars, but that doesn’t mean no other life forms can. For the most part, humans are so self-centered they think they’re the only ones inhabiting the universe. I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of aliens checking us out too *waves back*. There IS definitely life on other planets, the Buddha said so 2,600 years ago, and I believe that. Just because we can’t see them in the pictures that space probes beam back doesn’t mean that they don’t exist…

… and in other news, I have just eaten half a grapefruit the size of a personal watermelon, and it was the juiciest thing ever, a far cry from the slightly bigger than an orange-sized ones that I have to squeeze to death for every last drop of juice that it’s worth. I guess it helps to have the world’s orchards in your backyard, eh! I’ve got a 10lb bag of these delicious babies in the fridge, gonna take my time to work through them.

Okay, that’s all the rambling from me today. Have a great one, folks!

My Grandma’s mantra

Okay, so my daughters are volunteering at a food pantry packing and handing out food to the needy (which officially makes me a proud mama 😉 ). One of my daughters is doing it for class credit, and the other is helping out of her own free will. Neither is complaining even though this means giving up their beauty sleep to be out there in the early morning hours. I tagged along one week and found myself busy working the back benches, and yes, I loved it! planning to go again.

Every week, there are long lines of people who can’t afford to feed themselves and their families coming through the door. It breaks my heart to see the kids who come along with their parents to collect food. Yeah, it makes me wonder why people waste food when there are so many people who can’t even afford to put food on their tables. I don’t get it.

Recently, my daughters were stunned when they overheard a student at the cafeteria telling her friends how she loves to pile her plate high with food which she never finishes it and ends up throwing all away. Question is why take so much food when you know there’s no way you can eat it all? Apparently she just loves seeing all that food on her plate, she explained to her friends. Huh?

I know someone who, when her husband calls to say he’d be home late from work, would instruct her maid to throw away all the food that’s been saved for him. Every time I heard her say that, it made me wince. She declares that excess food from all her meals go right down the drain, they never eat leftovers. What a waste! Some leftovers are even more flavorful the next day, and there are so many ways to get creative with them you’ll never guess they were last night’s dinner.

And apparently she’s not alone. My cousins would allow their then below 10-year-old kids to order adult portions of whatever they wanted. In many cases, it’s obvious (to me, at least) that the portions are way too big for kids that age but she would tell them, “If you can’t finish, just leave it”. Question is, why not just share or get the kiddy meals in the first place? Nothing wrong with sharing, if you ask me.

When my kids were younger, they would always share. I can see where sharing can be a problem sometimes for kids with preferences. I’m lucky my kids have always been agreeable and never fought over food. Even now, we often share our orders. If it’s not enough to go round or we want more, we can always order again. That way, we don’t end up wasting food or stuffing ourselves silly. Make sense, right?

When I was growing up, my Grandma would tell me, “Don’t waste food, think of all the starving people, be grateful you get to eat all this good food”. It was her mantra which I have passed on to my kids and hopefully they will do the same. From young, my kids have been trained to lick their platters clean and not to take more than they can finish. My youngest daughter is so cute. On the rare occasion when she had food left on her plate, she would say softly, “Sorry, food, I can’t eat any more and you have to go to waste”. This kinda sums up how we feel about wasting food.

How about you? What are your views on food wastage?

How to be #happy

How to be #happy

Hey everyone, guess what? Today is National I Want You To Be Happy Day. Honestly I had no idea there is such a day but I’m happy that there is because I’ve been wanting to share with you my tips for happiness. I’m assuming everyone wants to be happy, or happier, right? But it’s important to understand up front that life comes with its ups and downs and no matter what anyone tells you, no one can be happy ALL the time. Not even those we think have all the money, fame and creature comforts we can only dream of.

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We can’t all have everything but if you think about how lucky you are to have what you have, to be where you are, to have the love of your family, your kids, you have reason to smile and be happy. It’s a waste of time running after the things someone else has, thinking that those are what you need to be happy. There’s no one universal thing that makes everyone happy. Everyone is different and different things make people happy and frankly, they could be just the simplest of things like your kids giving you a peck on the cheek, or offering to pay for your gym membership from his campus job.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Comparing the size of your house, your car, your bank account, etc with someone whom you think is better off than you will only make you negate everything you’ve done thus far to be where you’re at. It’ll make you feel resentful, unaccomplished and unhappy about your situation. To be honest, the other person may seem better off from outward appearances but who is to say they don’t have a whole ‘nother set of problems and they may looking at you wishing they could be you, heh? So I wouldn’t waste my time wishing for or chasing after what someone else has. Instead be content with what you have and make the most of it.

Do what you like and do it your way. I, for one, have never subscribed to the herd mentality. I honestly could care two hoots if everyone is driving a new car every year, or splurging on vacations 5 times a year. But believe me, there will be people out there who make it their business to make you look or feel bad. And if you let them get to you, you’ll be unhappy. So why let them? I say, just ignore these people and do what makes you happy. Wear what you like, do what you enjoy, inhale the goodness around you, try something completely crazy and different, and most important, be who you are, not someone else and you’ll be a whole lot happier.

So here’s sending you huge hugs and wishing you Happy I Want You To Be Happy Day! And if you’re so inclined, share your tips for happiness and what brings happiness to your life?

Is there a more bizarre way of encouraging independence in your kids?

Is there a more bizarre way of encouraging independence in your kids?

As parents, we all want to encourage independence in our kids. I’m pretty sure of that. In fact, some of us get pretty creative in our efforts to make our kids learn to do things for themselves and stand on their own two feet.

But one woman has taken it to a whole new level. In her effort to encourage independence in her young daughter, she made up a horrific lie to convince the girl that she wasn’t her real mother and kept up the lie for over an entire decade.

A woman surnamed Shen, a resident of China’s Shenyang city, married a wealthy man and had a young daughter named Cheng Cheng. Their family was well-off, and about 13 years ago, Shen began to fear her daughter was becoming spoiled and arrogant. To stop this behaviour and force her child to be independent, Shen adopted a particularly unorthodox parenting tactic.

“Your real mother died a long time ago,” Shen told Cheng Cheng, who was about to enter fourth grade at the time. “I’m not your real mother. I’m just providing for your education up until you finish university. After that, don’t count on my help anymore.”

Cheng Cheng did not believe her mother’s words at first, but after Shen remained adamant in her claims, the young girl became shocked and confused.

This confusion was only temporary. Soon after learning her “real mother” had died and Shen would not be around to provide for her forever, Cheng Cheng began studying harder, and her academic performance improved. Her arrogant traits also began to disappear, and the girl became “sensible and obedient,” the Shenyang Evening News reported.

I am stumped, speechless. At a time when a child needs the love of a mother most, this woman chooses to push her child away in the most cruel fashion. Imagine the shock for the poor child to find out that the person she’s loved and trusted all this time suddenly isn’t who she thought and that her happy life of being loved by her mom has just ended… poof! just like that! How does a young child deal with this?

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I mean, there are any number of ways to teach a kid to be independent and this sounds like just about the most cruel and unacceptable way to go about it. First off, I’ve never believed in lying to a child to get them to behave or obey. What kind of message would we be sending the child? That it’s okay to lie? That it’s okay to trick someone into doing something we want them to do?

I can only speak for myself and some will disagree, but this whole making up stories and lying to a child and threatening that evil will befall them if they don’t obey is not going to benefit the child. At age 9 or 10, as this child was, kids are able to understand reasoning and logic. They’re playful, sure, they may need more pep talks than we have patience for and countless reminders to drill in the idea, but isn’t that why we call them kids?

Eventually most can be taught and will learn. There’s no need to go into this sort of elaborate scheme to turn a child’s life upside down. What does this achieve? In the long run, I think keeping the communication channel open is a far better way for parents to come out on top and to win their children’s trust and respect. That’s how I do it anyways.

What’s more, childhood trauma has a way of carrying over into adulthood leaving emotional scars that can be hard to erase. Later in the article, the mother is triumphant that she has raised a daughter who is successful in every way – super achiever, high-flying job, good husband, happy ending? I’m no psychologist but I can almost bet that deep down inside, this young woman harbors deep emotional scars and who can say she won’t perpetuate her own negative experiences on her own children later?

Right, I think I’ve said enough. Read the full text here if you’re interested and tell us: what do you think of the woman’s parenting style? how do you teach your kids independence?

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