The receptionist and the food seller

The receptionist and the food seller

And so when Wesak Day (the Buddha’s birthday) rolled around, I signed up to be a volunteer. I mean, why not? It sounded like the perfect excuse to get out of the house, meet new people and do some good. I was all gungho and excited and signed up for not one but two ‘jobs’. I had no idea if I was being over-enthusiastic but decided that I’d go with Nike and “just do it”!

For two days, I played receptionist at an art exhibition that was being held in conjunction with Wesak Day. Never having been a receptionist before, it was good fun pretending to be one (lol) welcoming visitors, having them sign in the visitors’ log and handing out guide books, all while baring my teeth flashing a toothy smile!!

On Wesak Day itself, I took on my other job, one that involved, you guessed it – food, lots of food, so much food – only this time, I got to be on the other side of the counter. I started my food selling stint with a partner who pretty soon was called to help out at another counter. A manpower womanpower shortage apparently!

So off she went and I was left manning the entire counter all by my lonesome. At this point, I should mention that my only other bit of volunteering experience was at a food pantry in California handing out bags of groceries to the underprivileged. Which doesn’t really count for relevant experience, if you ask me, but I guess it’s close enough.

So there, I found myself fearlessly going the whole 9 yards from promoting and bagging to collecting payment and replenishing stock, all while baring my teeth flashing a toothy smile!!

Yup, I sure did a lot of smiling. I mean, heck, it was such a lot of fun who could resist smiling to themselves? Not me. And you know what else, half the fun and amusement was seeing this whole new side of myself that I’ve not seen before lol.

To sum up this whole experience in a hashtag: stuff you never got to do when you were running mom’s taxi. So worth it!

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 ν–ˆμ–΄ (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!

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

We jumped for joy the day it rained movie tickets. I mean, what are the chances of scoring not one but two free movies? Hoobaheck, if it weren’t for free movies, we wouldn’t even be going to the movies.

Thrilled, we made our way early to Finding Dory. As in almost 3 hours early so that we could have dinner at 5pm. Ridiculous, I know, but it probably had to do with the sheer excitement of watching a movie with the brood again. Just like old times and definitely a far cry from that epic fail of a movie date.

Dinner was one of the best we’ve had in recent days, according to the picky eater opinion vote. While our last experience with this restaurant was bittersweet, it was quite the opposite this time.

Just when we’d lost hope of ever paying less for a bigger portion with no drop in food quality, surprise, surprise! for the first time in our history of eating out, this restaurant gets *drumrolls please* added back into PEARL (our Picky Eater’s Approved Restaurant ListΒ©).

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

Customer service aside, the fried chicken was everything we’d hoped for. Even I, notoriously known for refusing to eat with my hands, ended up licking my fingers unashamedly in public lol. That was how good this crispy double-fried chicken was (or should I say, is, since we can’t seem to stop going back for more?).

After dinner, we skipped off merrily to the cinema only to be greeted with more mouthwatering news. Free popcorn and soda each! Woah, as if Finding Dory wasn’t sweet enough on its own… with bite-sized lessons about friendships and family for savvy parents to initiate teaching points with their little kids πŸ‘.

Now You See Me 2, on the other hand, left a bit of a sour aftertaste 😐. We’d planned to watch the 1pm but decided on the 10:15 instead even though we were a half hour late. Turned out we didn’t miss anything. I know everything else starts late in these here parts but movies too? C’mon!

As for the movie itself, we didn’t know what to expect. That’s what happens when you close your eyes and just pick one off the sad list. All it was, to me, was a bunch of magicians running around. And the dialog, well, it was kinda stilted, like they were reading off a script.

The redeeming factor was, of course, the air-conditioning inside the cinema. It was delicious given that the air-conditioning in the rest of the mall is non-existent these days. But yeah, all in all, it’s happy days!

Tigers in the woods

Tigers in the woods

This is one of those weekends that Hip2Dad isn’t playing the El Nino Open. I say, what a great decision! Better to be enjoying a day in the comfort of home than chasing golf balls all day in this oppressive heatwave.

That said, I have to admit that at one point in my working life, I too had a golf club standing in my office. Scattered across that corner of my room were golf balls, each bearing the initials of my beloved boss, carefully carved out in permanent marker.

At random times of the work day, you could find me behind closed doors whacking the living daylights out of said golf balls✌. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in violence any more than I believe them initials should be allowed to run amok in the workplace. But there were times when 5:00 pm was just too far away and I needed to de-stress pronto.

Speaking of which, I wonder why ‘coming home from the office to your kids’ isn’t listed anywhere as a stress reliever. For me, it wasn’t meditation or a vacation away from it all. It was my kids who kept me sane when work was a beech (oops, I’ve done it again, haven’t I? and this ain’t no Britney Spears song either!).

Back then, I did consider taking up golf. That was when Hip2bDad began telling me to stop calling golf clubs ‘golf sticks’. He introduced me to each golf club by name. Meet Dasher, Dancer and Prancer Putter, Driver and Iron! But that didn’t stop me from using a driver to putt. Duh!

And he showed me how to swing a golf club without killing anyone in the process. Good thing we never got to the real game where I had to drive the ball across the grass, I mean, green. Apparently someone drove a ball right smack into our K-friend’s head and he promptly fainted. See, it could happen even to experienced golfers. So don’t even try to imagine what I would’ve done!

Tigers in the woods

At some point, Hip2bDad began to think he saw potential Tigers in our three pre-teens. In fact, he was so sure he signed them all up for golf lessons. So began our suntanning sessions as I played doting golf mom! Soon we all began to look like roasted potatoes even as our sunblock investments went shooting through the roof.

Golf fashion quickly dominated our weekend lives. “Hey, why are you wearing that? Where’s your polo shirt?” our resident golf fashion police could be heard hollering up the stairs. “Belts please! Hey, hey, don’t forget to tuck in your shirt!” No offense but who even wears belts any more unless they’ve been living in the woods since World War 2?! You have no idea how much it pained me to see my poor kids dressed up like fusty old men with golf sticks!!

Never could understand golf fashion. Which is why it’s probably a good thing I never signed up for lessons myself. One look at Mrs K-friend in long-sleeved polo shirts and covering herself 머리뢀터 λ°œλκΉŒμ§€ (from head to toe) in sun-protective garb and I was like, no no no, I ain’t wearing no hasmat suit!! There’s just no way!

To top it off, they even have golf fashion police patrolling the course in case you decide to get all New York Fashion Week-like. My kids got told off a few times but they just shrugged and carried on. Go kids!! Honestly, who the heck cares? It’s only a game! Or a work stress reliever, if you’re like me?

To the movies, 21st century style

To the movies, 21st century style

So I received a text message from a stranger: 였늘 밀에 μ˜ν™”λ₯Ό λ³ΌκΉŒμš” 우리? (Shall we go for a movie tonight?)

I was almost expecting a chime of excited voices and a whole lot of high five-ing at the mention of the word ‘movie’. “What movie? We wanna go, we wanna go!” followed by the hustle and bustle of getting dressed, the mad dash for the bathroom, and everyone eventually piling into my minivan.

As a mom, my life has revolved endlessly around my three kids. The daily taxi runs, sometimes up to 15 times a day. The meal planning and cooking. The grocery runs. The home-baked birthday cakes. The home haircuts. I insisted on doing everything myself, diehard hands-on mom that I am.

To me, mommy ‘me’ time is for the birds. I never hankered for it and I didn’t need any of it. I was enjoying my kids too much as they were growing up. I was too busy creating memories with them. Hip2bDad had all but given up trying to date me.

But now, here I was reading this unlikely text on my phone and I’m like: μ •λ§μš”? 데이트? (Really? A date?) It took a whole 22 and a quarter nanoseconds for it to sink in. Well, now that all this ‘me’ time has fallen on my lap, I guess I should start dating Hip2bDad again, so: πŸ‘Œ ν•˜μž. (Okay, let’s.)

Trust us to pick a Saturday night. The mall was a jungle and like vultures, we circled, hovered, then circled the parking lot again till we found a spot. Of course, it had to be at the farthest end of the mall from the cinema.

No worries though. We make it a point to be early getting anywhere. Hip2bDad has a very low tolerance for tardiness. The movie wasn’t till an hour and a half later. We still had plenty of time. Oh, look, there’s barely even a line at the ticket counter. We’re in luck!

Or so we thought. One glance at the cinema seating chart sent us reeling back. There were only 4 seats left AND all of them were singles. Oh, great, things sure are looking up for us! Okay, so do we forget the whole thing now and go home? Or do we bite the bullet and go ahead even if we have to sit apart?

To the movies, 21st century style

It wouldn’t make sense to go to a movie together and sit miles apart. It wouldn’t make sense either to go home after that hassle of finding a parking spot. So like any other couple on our first date (in probably 15 years), we decided nothing was going to get in our way..

The ticketing guy stared at us like we’d gone nuts. “Are you sure?” he asked several times with eyeballs the size of footballs. I don’t blame him. I swear he was thinking, what the heck! But ya! I’m a big girl. I can handle watching a movie alone!

Hip2bDad walked me to my seat at A3. Ever the gentleman, he said, “You take this. This seat is wider and more comfortable”. And then I watched him ride off into the sunset. To his seat at L20! Wa-aay down and across the hall. I craned my neck hoping to catch a glimpse of him but the lights went out at that very instant.

Alone in the darkness, there was nothing left to do but text each other. Welcome to 21st century dating!

How I like my apple pie

How I like my apple pie

Pie has been a topic of much debate since Thanksgiving when Costco was selling their scrumptious pumpkin pie like hot cakes. Everyone had at least one pumpkin pie in their shopping cart. Some folks had ten?!! Or more?!

We sampled the pie and it was delicious. One lady said it’s the best tasting pie next to homemade. But looking at the size of that pie, it would take us till next Thanksgiving (at least!) to finish eating.

We decided to bake our own pie instead. Pies are easy-peasy to make. Fine, homemade may not be as pretty as commercial. But looks aren’t everything. If an ugly pie is healthier and tastes just as good, I say – go for it!applecrumpie

Two Granny Smiths and 3 Golden Delicious later, we had an apple crumble pie coming out of the oven that we couldn’t wait to sink our teeth into. This is my first time making a crumble pie and it turned out to be every bit as delicious as we had hoped.


The nice thing about homemade pie is that you can cram it to the max with filling and tailor it any way you like. Smooth and gooey with apple chunks that I can bite into, that’s how I like my apple filling and that’s exactly how I cooked mine.

The filling turned out at the perfect sweetness level too. Surprisingly the Granny Smiths weren’t as tart as I thought. I didn’t even add much sugar but instead got to enjoy the full-blown natural sweetness of 5 apples! Joy!

Reflecting on 2014


Here we are, on the last day of yet another year. For me, 2014 has been a little surreal in more ways than one. I woke up on New Year’s Day 2014 in Vancouver, Canada and we’re counting down to 2015 here in California. Sometimes, I wake up and I have to take a minute to check my mental GPS.

Looking back, it’s been sort of interesting…

Cooking firsts

This has been a year of cooking firsts for me. In these past years of cooking for my kids, I’ve always been the chief of pastas, salads, and roasts. This year, well, we seem to be going through a small Asian food revolution here. My kids have started warming up to Asian food which they never quite appreciated before. Thing is I’m not much of an Asian chef. But being the mom that I am, I’ve always catered to my picky eaters’ whims and fancies, or at least, I’ve tried. So that set me off dishing out an eggplant stirfry here, a sophisticated steamed tofu there and glam rice congee on a cold day. There’s nothing I can’t cook with my kids cheering me on πŸ˜‰ !

New loves

This has got to be the year of new loves.

  • Fruits, fruits, fruits – all locally grown (read: no worries about their country of origin!).
  • Boots – bought my first pair, so wearing them every day, I’m in love!
  • Mrs Dishwasher, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. That you’re making sweet music with my dishes and pots while I’m sitting here at my computer, and when you’re done, everything comes out squeaky clean.
  • Toilet tablets – truly a gift to someone who hates cleaning the toilet bowl.
  • Ready-peeled shrimps, ready-peeled garlic, pre-washed veggies, you get the idea.
  • A car with a reverse camera – not that I can’t do without one but it sure as heck is a cool thing to have.
  • Self-cleaning oven… and if I were ever to have pet fish, they would live a life of luxury in a self-cleaning fish tank.
  • A whirlwind romance with Korean food, thanks to the K-friend who dragged us around town in search of.

Learning experiences

This year has been fraught with new learning experiences, among them:

  • Don’t park the car under a tree unless you want it to be decorated with bird droppings.
  • Volunteering at a community service center was a first and very rewarding experience for me.
  • I spoke Korean to our Korean mart lady so I guess that officially makes me Korean, huh?
  • Diving into a ‘shark’ tank was eye-opening *shudders* and we might even have befriended a semi-friendly shark name of Roger.

I swear there’s a ton more stuff I’d blogged inside my head for days before this but right now, this is about all I can come up with. I’ve got Korean BBQ chicken wing dings fresh out of the oven, scallops and Shiitake mushrooms and a bowl of kimchi sitting on the dining table.

To all my readers and fellow bloggers, have a safe and amazing 2015. Happy New Year!

Christmas at home


Hello Christmas morning! I’m up at 7:30 in the morning and it’s 39* out. The sun is stirring from his slumber. I can see him through the bare trees. And I’m standing in the hallway shivering in my jammies. Bah humbug! Time to turn on the heater.

Just two days ago, on the eve of Christmas eve, to be exact, I had rejoiced in shrugging off my hoodie at the Target parking lot in the 77* sunshine. That’s 77 on the second day of winter! Unbelieveable. Yesterday was a sunny 66 and today, whoa, we’re down to 56!

But enough about the weather. We were full of plans last night. We had planned to drive out to Christmas Tree Lane to see the lights after dinner. Christmas here is more about family and celebrating at home with loved ones. A far (literally!) cry from the commercialized Christmases we’re used to seeing in the city. Happy we don’t have to contend with the crazy crowds, and ripoff restaurant prices.

Anyhoo, by the time darkness fell at 5pm, we had changed our minds about Christmas Tree Lane and decided to stay home instead, declaring we would stay up late to usher in Christmas day, not that we had to but we thought it might be fun… and we almost made it too. With only a half hour till the stroke of midnight, the sleeping beauties were, well, fast asleep. So much for Christmasy plans!

So here we are chilling on Christmas day after spending 2 hours in the kitchen making lunch, and washing the car together. How’s that for family time? I bet our car is even happier now that it’s all shiny and spanking new again. πŸ˜€

Happy Holidays 2014!

Happy Holidays 2014!

Here we are on Christmas Eve having spent the past few days running around as if we were celebrating which we don’t, not in the religious sense anyways but I’ve always loved the holiday spirit. We’re just excited to join in the shopping frenzy even though we have nothing much to buy. Well, that’s not true. Packages from our Black Friday and after-party escapades are still arriving at our door every other day.

Oh, and after that Thanksgiving turkey fest, and eating turkey leftovers for days after, I’ve decided to hang up the pots and pans, and eat out instead. Let’s see…

Yesterday, on the eve of Christmas eve, while running some last-minute errands, we were contemplating lunch at Denny’s, Carl’s Jr or Subway but ended up splurging on a Korean buffet lunch instead. After all, it’s Christmas, right? What the heck? Let’s pig out and be jolly.

Korean buffet lunch

The day before that, we were rejoicing that gas prices had plummeted so we treated ourselves to a road trip, driving two hours to the factory outlets for some retail therapy. It was a cool day, really nice for a long drive, and for walking around from store to store. We even took some time to enjoy an outdoor lunch.


We got back late and decided to stop for Thai. We ate in, the servings are huge and we were stuffed but still had enough red curry chicken and eggplant with black bean sauce leftovers for another meal.

Thai dinner

Looks like for us, the holidays have already begun. I hope you have a jolly good time of being surrounded by loved ones, pigging out, and giving and receiving. Remember to spare a thought for the less fortunate. And with that, I’d like to wish all of you, my darling readers, a safe and blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays πŸ˜€ !!

Turkey days

Turkey days

Woah, is the long weekend over already? Is it December already? And on the first day of December, we have loads of sunshine!! Yup, that’s California for you. It’s 70* outside, sunny but cool as we head into winter. Amazing as is the fall foliage. I have to put up some pictures of the fall colors.

So how was our Thanksgiving? Our roast turkey turned out fabulous, crispy skin and all. We’re thankful we didn’t have to go hunting for a turkey like we’ve been doing the past few years. This was the feast we prepared for the 10 of us. I’m kidding, of course, there’s just the 3 of us.


We stayed in all day Thanksgiving (since most stores were closed anyways) fussing over our turkey and preparing the sides which included stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, brown gravy and cranberry sauce. We’ve been eating turkey leftovers ever since, hahaha… a-and I still have a whole leg of turkey ham sitting in my fridge so I foresee there’ll be more turkey days on the horizon for us.


We were excited about the Black Friday sales and we’d had a shopping list going days ahead. Dare we go out shopping? Well, the answer is no. Too much of a hassle piling on layers of clothes to get out there with the crowd since we really didn’t have much to buy.

Didn’t have much to buy? That list had been growing steadily but these shopaholics were definitely staying home to shop. In their pajamas. And that’s exactly what we did. So yes, we have been busy… with the holidays and a million other things, not even kidding. Hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving and long weekend.

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