Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fusion BBQ brought to you by the FC Housewives Club!

I shall not claim credit as I only brought my trusted fried bee hoon to the table, like I always do at potlucks and gatherings. For tonight's BBQ spread, Jo the grand chef marinated the tastiest chicken wings ever (secret recipe below!) and grilled everything from asparagus to pork ribs to finger-licking perfection. Wendy the mama made yummy, yummy chicken curry (with real coconut milk)! April brought lotsa Cantonese chow mein that goes really well with the gravy, and Winifred baked chocolate cookies for dessert! I forgot what Jasmine and Adeline brought (oops!) but it's OK cos I really enjoyed everyone's company.

And I realised I just typed everything in one long paragraph.

I really need to calm down after getting all hyped up this evening. I tend to talk A LOT, especially with people I know. And when I talk, I talk fast and furious and get all animated so I am so out of energy now.

But it's fun. When you are overseas, having a group of people whom you can hang out with makes a lot of difference.

Thank God for the tiny, homey community here!

Chit-chatting over food. We have Asian + Western combined!

Joel and Jasmine, the 'newly-weds' of 4 years. ^ ^

Jo, the master chef, at work with Vic, her sous-chef.
Jo's chicken wings recipe!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2nd month promotion

Into the second month of my so-called business, so am doing a little promotion.

From my Etsy shop:

"PROMO: From now till 31 Oct, receive free domestic shipping in US when you favourite our shop or any of our items (to avoid spamming, coupon code will ONLY be sent when you alert me via Etsy conversation)! To thank you for your purchase, we will also give a $2 off thank you code to be used for your next purchase (thank you code expires on 31 Dec). 

Have fun shopping!"

Comfort food that spells 'home'

There's nothing like home-cooked food. Especially food that's from your home country!

Was invited to Wendy's place to have claypot rice and bak kut teh today. They are easily two of my favourite dishes because I love hot soupy stuff and I love rice. Add Chinese sausage and mushroom to steaming hot rice and tau pok to soak up the peppery soup... I felt like I was in food heaven.

The two lovelies with whom I hang out in FC
Claypot rice is best with Chinese sausage. Oh-so-fragrant!
Get good pork ribs for the soup. And tau pok to soak it up!

Wendy said she used the recipe from noobcook for the claypot dish (by the way noobcook is highly recommended for Asian cooking). I'm tempted to buy a claypot too but I'm not sure if I'd use it often enough - it's just Panda and me most of the time.

Plus, I read that you need to prep the claypot first and then clean it with extra care. Use lemon or vinegar to clean it as the porous material might absorb the soap detergent. Hmmm... Sounds like a lot of effort?

On a separate note, we hit the gym before going over to Wendy's and I didn't have time to wash my hair. So I used dried shampoo to clean and puff it up, backcomb the pony tail before looping a top bun. (The new comb is good for backcombing!)

I finally master that messy bun without using a hair sponge after all these years. I'm such a late adopter/learner... but I must say it's the best thing ever for bad hair or dirty hair days. Yay!

All bundled up!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reversed French manicure

It's meant to be a reversed French manicure i.e. dark tip on a nude colour. But I should have known (never can draw proper lines without a ruler!) Two hours later, I ended up with this... stripe-y pointy looking tip?

Oops. I shall try harder next time.

Still hoping that it'll look nice despite the failed lines

On a related note, am getting a little bored with the colour range for gelish. I've had glittery nails before but the brands at Target only carry block colours for gelish. I'm thinking of heading over to Michaels or Jo-Ann to buy glitter and sprinkle it on next time.

Speaking of Target, I've finally earned enough 'kicks' to redeem a $10 gift card (yay!!!) Panda downloaded this awesome App for me eons ago but I always thought it's a waste of time, until he redeemed $5, then $25, and then another $25 from this App. Part of our new vacuum cleaner was paid with this!

Hunt for the said item and scan it!

Panda said I finally learn to appreciate his enthusiasm over Apps like that. The other one is where you earn a few cents for every survey you do, and once you accumulate enough you can cash it. We have yet to earn the minimum amount, but let's see how it goes!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dim Sum: Trays of nostalgia

I feel extremely blessed to stay in a part of California where dim sum is readily available. There's no greater comfort than watching steamy little trays of goodness being pushed around in metal carts. I think I'd have died if there are no dim sum restaurants around.
My favourite is actually Hong Kong Flower Lounge (at Millbrae) but the queue is always unbelievably long, so we go to this hidden gem called China Village Seafood Restaurant (at Belmont) to get our dim sum fix. ABC Seafood Restaurant (in Foster City) is my nearest hospital if I go cold turkey.
马拉糕 is my all-time favourite! Love this sponge cake.
Also tried Koi Palace (in Daly City), which has a more 'atas' aka premium selection like scallop dumplings, but you will have to be early to beat the crowd. Zen Peninsula (in Millbrae) is sort of OK if not for the queue.
I actually owe my appreciation of dim sum to Grandpa. I stayed with him when I was young. Every morning, he would bring us to a cha lao (tea place) a few blocks away from his house to yum cha (drink tea). When we say yum cha, we really mean eating loads of dim sum. 
We'd drink tea, of course. He prefers the thicker 普洱 (Pu'erh) with his dim sum while I like lighter ones like 香片 (Jasmine) or 铁观音 (Iron Goddess of Mercy). Till this day, I'm quite glad I can still tell the server what kind of tea I like. I know friends who give a total blank face before saying 菊花 (Chrysanthemum).
Nothing wrong with Chrysanthemum... except that it's not really a dim sum tea? I don't know... there are no tea leaves inside and it's sweet!
Anyway, over the phone a while ago, I told Grandpa that I will go yum cha with him when I'm back in December. It has sort of become a ritual whenever Sis and I head back. It's more than just eating har gows and char siu baus together; it's a sign of respect.  
If I ever have children, one thing I'll always nag about is: "Remember to go yum cha with your grandparents!"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Changing seasons, changing moods

I feel absolutely lazy today. The weather has been a little off lately (we are going into fall!) and the temperature at Bay Area has been going up and down like a swing. We had warm, cool, warm, then cool weather again today.

According to The Weather Channel, we are gonna have some showers tomorrow too.

No complaints because I love all seasons. While summer was a time for tanks and shorts, fall is the time for light scarves and boot boot! The only thing is that I have to remind myself to be diligent in putting moisturiser after shower. I could get away with that in summer. Fall and winter is a totally different story.

And in line with the changing seasons, I made another hair clip yesterday. Mustard yellow for fall. Jo said it's like a blueberry tart, so I have named it Blueberry Dreams. Yummy, yummy!

So back to my lazy mood, I am supposed to be preparing for the coming Sunday School lesson (I've started teaching Kinder/1st Graders with a sweet young lady!) But as the gloomy weather would have it, it's a slow, slow day.

Case in point, it's 4pm and I'm still too lazy to make my lunch.

And perhaps I'm still recovering from the all-nighter I pulled for an online assignment I took up. Check out the page if you can read Cantonese. It's actually quite fun and it gets my rusty old brain going again. But I was knocked out at the end of it, at 6.30am.

Old age + lack of sleep + changing seasons = one dishevelled looking woman at home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New York City: Love it or hate it?

Nakedness is in at Times Square
We were conned into paying Spiderman $20 on our first night in New York. He who requested to take a photo with us AND THEN asked us to give him tips. Seriously!

Well the incident didn't leave a bad impression on us... it's only realistic to assume that tourists are the easiest prey, New York City or elsewhere. Back at Time Square, I was excited by the dazzling lights because it's been such a long time since I'm out in a city. A REAL city!!!

It's the second time I visited NYC. The first was with my parents in 2000, a year before 911. The 911 memorial site brought back memories of Sis and I, taking a photo at a photo booth atop one of the twin towers, and of us standing at the plaza between the towers. I still recalled the sculpture where we took a photo. Everything was gone a year later. The twin reflecting pools are painful reminders of what once stood, and how we take peace for granted everyday.

The Statue of Liberty. How would you define freedom?

Since I've been to most places and Panda was super laid back, we didn't do the overpriced tourist tours. We opted for the free Staten Island Ferry ride to see the Status of Liberty (Thanks Sixian for the tip!), and took 10 albums worth of photos outside significant buildings like Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden (not interesting since I'm not a basketball fan. Haha!), Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Terminal.

I really wanted to check out the American Museum of Natural History because I love Night at the Museum! (Where's my gum gum dum dum. Heh!) But we didn't have time so I settled for Roosevelt and the dinosaur bones at the main lobby.

I also like to cover local places when I travel so I was thrilled to visit Little Italy and Chinatown. We had a fabulous dinner with Panda's boss at Little Italy. Sixian also brought us to Nom Wah, the first dim sum parlour in NYC, to have brunch. Panda had his first proper haircut for $8 too!

For all the fun I've had in NYC, my feelings towards the city is still... undecided. You know when you see a pretty boy, and even after interacting with him, you feel that he is too easy, too suave to be trusted?

It may seem a little judgemental. But well, that's NYC to me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Toronto sparkles because of you!

At Clifton Hill, the Street of Fun by the Falls.

What's there to do in Toronto? Panda asked me when we were planning to visit Uncle Chris and family. My last trip to Toronto was with my family way back in secondary school (15 years ago?) and I only remembered Niagara Falls and CN Tower.

C'est tout.

So our plan was to stay 6 nights in Toronto, take it slow, do our research on New York City where we are heading next, eat, sleep. We envisioned it to be extremely relaxed and laid back.

But it turned out to be so much more than what we had planned, thanks to Kevin and Agnes! We had a full sightseeing tour near Niagara Falls (Peller Estates Winery, Clifton Hill) before taking the Maid of the Mist (almost) into the Falls. We also ate poutine, a Canadian speciality. I love fries so it's perfect for me.

Drenched if not for the little blue ponchos! 
Uncle Chris and Auntie Jessie also pampered us so much with home-cooked food. Steamed garlic lobsters, smoked salmon, Canadian BBQ at home! We miss it so much now that we are back.

BBQ in the backyard

We spent the rest of the days checking out Chinese malls around Markham (Pacific Mall and Market Village are so Hong Kong-y!) and taking the TTC downtown to visit the places of interest. We decided that the CN Tower was not worth the money so we went on to other places. I heart the shopping strip near Yonge-Dundas Square, and St Lawrence Market.

Shopping street at downtown Toronto
The many shops inside St Lawrence Market

We also wanted to check out the cornfield maze; we heard that they can grow taller than a person and you can lose yourself in it! Unfortunately, the weather was gloomy most of the time and we couldn't go. Something to look forward to next time.

A shout out to Uncle Chris, Auntie Jessie, Agnes and Kevin here... thank you for taking such good care of us in Toronto!