Be not afraid of greatness

Be not afraid of greatness

For a guy who was hunched over a rickety old desk in a dim, candle-lit room with a quill pen, he sure produced some of the greatest and best loved writing. I’m talking about Shakespeare, of course, who left us with his literary works of art 400 years ago this week. The man is brilliant, what can I say? Strange how I speak of him in the present tense as if he were still alive.

I read two of his plays in my Literature class and I’ve been in love ever since. Of course, it helped that my teacher took such pains to delve into details and often even play-acted the scenes for us. The class was so fun and interesting I didn’t even mind having to memorize all those crazy many quotes.

The opening act of Twelfth Night starts out with some of my favorite lines. Here the lovesick Orsino is asking his musicians to give him an overdose of music to drown his pining for love.

If music be the food of love, play on

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

My favorite quote from Act  3 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar is where Caesar compares himself to the unwavering nature of the Northern Star, the one thing sailors of old could always count on to bring them home safely.

But I am constant as the Northern Star,

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament.

Back in the day, I was constantly quoting Shakespeare. I just couldn’t stop. I know, I probably sent some people of my dates spinning. But for me, the literary freak and hopeless romantic, Shakespeare was huge.

I don’t quote Shakespeare quite as often these days but I treasure my beautifully aged volume of the Complete Works of William ShakespeareComplete Works of William Shakespeare, a birthday surprise from someone who was obviously as spellbound by my Shakespearean quotes as I was with the  great writer himself LOL.

Be not afraid of greatness

I think you look handsome here, just like I always imagined you. 고맙습니다 (thank you) for inspiring the writer in me!

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…

cupcakes1

… 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.

cupcakes2

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.

how2bhappy

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?

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