Leave out fall? Nah!

Leave out fall? Nah!

We’ve gone from hot and sunny to wintry cold, straight from summer to winter. Whatever happened to fall? I love fall. There’s a certain romance about the colorful backdrop, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the need to huddle together for warmth. Do you think Mother Nature would be so mean as to leave out fall altogether (heck, was that an ever so subtle pun right there? I do surprise myself sometimes)? Here’s proof she hasn’t forgotten!

fall15

I took this picture the other day. The colors of fall are awesome against a completely cloudless sky. You ponder what an amazing job Mother Nature does with her palette, taking her time to paint each and every leaf from the spirited scarlets, to the mellow maroons, to the awe-inspiring auburns, to the unyielding yellows, and all the shades in between. It’s sad these amazing colors won’t last long though before the trees became brown and bare ๐Ÿ™ .

But the best of fall cuisine and cooking is still here to enjoy. More on that later?

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!

Rain!

It’s raining!! Yup, you heard me! It’s freakin’ raining!! It hasn’t rained in California for ages so you can imagine how it’s been on the agricultural produce that California is famous for – the grapes, apricots, peaches, oranges, almonds, walnuts, … Our back lawn is parched, and our poor car, rarely washed, to conserve water, has been wearing an unfashionable coat of dirt and dust.

The rain is not heavy, just steady but it’ll do. I’m standing at the open window just breathing in that distinctly cool and nostalgic freshness. It takes me back to overcast college days of hoodie-clad me racing down tree-lined paths on my racer bike with the cool breeze whipping the rain lightly onto my faceย  It always made me feel light-hearted and so happy.

I love the distinct smell of the rain here. It’s so clean you just can’t help being greedy and taking it lungful after lungful of its cooling freshness. It’s certainly not the kind of rain that serves to come down in torrents to wash away the disgusting pong of trash left behind on the streets by the garbage truck, shall we say?

It’s still raining outside. I can hear it. I don’t have the pictures to show you, I’m assuming you know what rain looks like. But trust me, this rain is different, it’s so much more beautiful (for the memories it invokes in me).

Strange and stranger

The world is full of strange people, or to be more precise, people who strike me as strange. For instance, I’m enjoying a quiet coffee at the reception of a gym (not my regular gym) and minding my own business when a man comes up, stands over me and loudly asks if the person sitting across the coffee table from me is my mother. I didn’t answer him right away.

Instead I look up at him, giving him my signature once-over!! Granted he looks like your friendly neighborhood older person but still, how is it any business of his who that woman is? Not getting the response he expects, he repeats his question in the same demanding voice, to which I give him a do-I-know-you look and go, “Do you know her??!” I mean, so what if she is my mother? and so what if she isn’t?

Okay, maybe I’m just being difficult.

Not my fault, meeting a strange and nosy person first thing in the morning does this to me.

Unable to get a confirmation from me, he goes on to assume that she is (wrong!), and continues his line of questioning. So how old is she? Silence and a grin from me. So he starts guessing. Is she in her 60s? Silence and a grin. I wasn’t being rude or anything. I didn’t glare at him. I just didn’t say anything, and with people like that, it’s okay if you don’t answer, they won’t even notice, they’ll keep the questions coming from other angles and when they get tired of that, they go on to talk about themselves.

Actually more like brag. He tells me he’s 75, his wife is 73, and that they work out at this gym. Well, if he hadn’t annoyed me with that line of questioning, I might’ve jumped up enthusiastically and clapped, that’s great, I’m impressed! But he’d gotten me all sorta garlicky so I just nodded.

He goes on to lecture about what exercises he does. I couldn’t resist a big smile. I’m often amused listening to people like him. In my mind, I’m conjuring up images of him turning left and right, posing for selfies in his gym gear perched atop the gym equipment and posting them all over the internet LOL.

Pretty soon, I’m savvy to his weekly gym routine. Oh, I work out here for 1.5 hours 3-4 days a week, the other days of the week, I play golf, and my wife works out for 2 hours 5 days a week. We live across the road, it’s so convenient, we’re here every day. Oh man, as if I need to know all that! He laughs as he tells me, we have all the time in the world, we only eat and exercise… at which point, I’m LOL-ing real hard inside.

Yes, I know all about the eat-and-exercise syndrome. People here tell themselves it’s okay to pig out ’cause heck, they exercise – so no guilt, no worries, just eat. Then they go jump on the treadmill for 2-4 hours a day to ‘work off’ those calories they’ve just put on (you know, like filling up a wheelbarrow with rocks, then emptying it all out again) and they’re convinced it’s all good. Wokay, I get it LOL!

As it turned out, ten minutes was all it took me to know more about him than I do some of my relatives even. I really didn’t have to say much. He did all the talking. All I had to do was paste a big grin on my lips. Seriously though, now that I have all this information about this complete stranger, what do I do with it? ๐Ÿ˜

On being a bum

If it seems like I’ve given up on blogging, well, I haven’t. I’m still blogging, furiously, voraciously, in my head every day night. When my head hits the pillow, chances are that keyboard in my head will start hammering out a blog post. Since I’m not in the habit of sleeping with my gadgets, by sunrise, that post would either be lost in space, or relegated to my mental recycle bin. Oh well, so much for blogging!

As it is, life is pretty mundane. I’m more prone to staying home these days. Of late, most of our beloved restaurants have raised prices, reduced portions and watered down their fare. What could be worse than people who take their customers for fools, eh? So I’m down to a handful of restaurants that are just barely meeting our standards. If I were like the regular person who judges a restaurant by the number of diners rather than letting my own tastebuds decide, I might still have a list a mile and a half long. But that’s not me. Right now, I can honestly tell you, my list is looking rather sad.

Luckily for me, food isn’t everything. Shopping is, if you know me. That too, I’ve been doing too much of lately. Not retail therapy, mind you (I’m saving that for you, Cali!), but stuff I need for the house. Yeah, that kind of shopping is fun for a while but it gets to be a bit of a chore. Oh well, I’m done with that now so there’s precious little reason for me to be roaming the malls. I’m home a lot more than I used to, which isn’t necessarily all bad, since I get to stuff I rarely used to have time for, like afternoon naps (aaah!).

If you’re thinking, man, you’re boring, well, maybe I am, or maybe it’s this place, I don’t know, what do you think? Yeah, I should probably join a Facebook food group and spice up my social life with a bunch of strangers. Except I don’t do Facebook, and I’m not interested in saliva-sharing, and I don’t have the patience for people who are unapologetic about showing up late, and I’m not willing to drive out miles for food that everyone else swears is good but likely isn’t… and well, food, in general, isn’t that important to me anyways, so yeah! I can handle a small group of friends who know me and my quirks, and it’s fun when I’m out with my kids but it’s too much work for me to be out with a big, rowdy social group.

So that’s a bit of a random update. I’m trying to find a way to turn my nocturnal blogging into tangible posts because goodness knows how cyberspace must miss my writing by now ๐Ÿ˜. To be honest, I miss writing and maybe I’m tired of being a bum too. And I really do miss writing. Have I mentioned that already?

Sidenote: I’m suddenly reminded of a guy I used to work with who would read and reread my memos, emails and every bit of documentation I wrote. No, he didn’t have a crush on me, hell no! He says he just loves to read my writing and I’m like, but it’s business writing, and he goes, I still love the way you write. Hahaha, funny guy ๐Ÿ˜„!

Bug Story No. 103

Twas a quiet Saturday night just before Christmas. After a deliciously spicy Thai takeout dinner at home, we were each settling down to our own nightly routine… when a scream pierces the silence! My fingers froze on my keyboard, then…

“A BUG!”

No, this is not a scene from a horror movie and the bug is not the size of King Kong. But this is how bug stories go in our family.

Split second of silence, “There’s a BUG!”

Helter-skelter!!

“Where??!”

“HERE!! In the bathroom!”

“Where??!”

“On the towel! THERE!!! QUICK!!”

“Where??!!”

“THERE?!!”!

“Where??” (peers closely) “Is that even a bug?”

“IT IS! There, ThErE, THERE!”

“That’s not a bug.”

“IT IS! It is! It’s MOVING, omg, OMG!!”

We have a towel by the sink where we place our electric toothbrushes, and there, on the edge of the towel, was what looked like a small piece of oval-shaped cardboard. It was dark brown, flat and FUZZY!! I had no time to take a photo. Neither did I want a photo of this creature to be sitting in my phone *gag*. So you’re going to have to imagine what it looked like. Not pretty, I swear!

I didn’t see it move, well, until it moved, at which point, I jumped back and SCREAMED. Okay, that wasn’t very dignified of me but when you’re in the same room with an unidentified bug the size of half your fingernail, your instinct takes control! When I regained my senses, I heard myself barking orders in rapid fire succession to Hip2bDaughters who had since fled the scene.

“GET ME A PLASTIC BAG! QUICK, ANY PLASTIC BAG! COME ON, HURRY UP, IT’S ON THE MOVE!! GIVE IT TO ME, QUICK! AAAA-AAH!”

At this point, you’re probably thinking, why don’t you just smash the bug and be done with it??!!! Read on, I’ll get to that in a minute.

I threw the open plastic bag over the bug and attempted to grab it with my fingers. I have no idea what kind of bug this was (because I’ve never seen any bug that looks this gross) but it was so flat I couldn’t get a grip.

After several failed attempts, I heard myself rapid-firing another round of orders.

“GET ME A PIECE OF PAPER! YOU HOLD THE PLASTIC BAG! I’LL FISH IT UP AND PUT IT IN THE PLASTIC BAG AND YOU CLOSE IT TIGHT, OK? SOMEONE OPEN THE FRONT DOOR SO I CAN RUN OUT AND TOSS IT OUTSIDE!”

And that’s exactly what we did. It was freezin’ cold outside but I didn’t care. I didn’t even stop to put a jacket on. Plastic bag containing bug in hand, I did the Usain Bolt pastย Hip2bDaughters and straight out the front door to our neighbor’s bush where I unceremoniously flung said plastic bag. You can probably tell by now that I wasn’t really thinking. All I cared about was getting that freakin’ bug out of our house!!

It was only much later when things had calmed down that it struck me. Omg, what have I done? What will our neighbors think? Oh well, better in their bush than ours, for sure! The next morning, I tippy-toed out there armed with a pair of kitchen thongs and a bigger plastic bag to transfer that plastic bag AND its contents to right into the garbage bin.

Okay, back to your question – why didn’t I just smash the bug? Sure it would’ve been easier to do just that but that’s not how I roll. In our household, we try to preserve life, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant. We try. We don’t always succeed but we do try.

As you can well imagine, we have enough bug stories to fill a book half a foot thick. The episodes are usually pretty darned scary in the moment but they’re hysterical when we look back at all the times we’ve let a teeny tiny creature turn our house upside down ๐Ÿ˜† .

Are you freaked out by bugs, or are you someone who takes them by their horns feelers and wrestles them to the ground? I’d love to hear your bug stories, feel free to share.

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

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!

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