Thursday, 30 September 2010

Rainy Week!

Rainy Week Agenda: 
-Taking my morning walk in heavy downpour. 
(Yellow Umbrella and Soaked Sneakers included. ) 
-Epsom Salt Bath of Wonderfulness. 
(My rhomboids thank me. I thank them. Relax. Take it easy, kids.)
-Chamber Music Concert on Tuesday Night.
(Courtesy of Friendly Neighbours. Also, Asian Networking occurs with the only other Asian woman. She wants me to e-mail her. ....) 
-Wednesday Nannying.
(...During which I braved an epic pre-bedtime tantrum. I also experienced night driving during a tropical storm. Fear and Trembling. And maybe some Tchaikovsky.)  
-Post Card Making/Letter Writing
-E. Tries To Learn How To Cook
(I can bake decent cakes. But cooking? Oh dear. Right now the kitchen smells of burnt soy sauce and honey. Yeah. I'm cooking. Oh well. 6 chicken legs at a time, right?)
-E. Buys Frozen Soybeans from TJ's and Includes Them in Every Dish She Makes. This too shall pass.
(Ma, I never thought the day would come when I would WILLINGLY put vegetables in my macaroni and cheese. In fact, I ate all the soybeans and picked around the noodles. Um. I'm still a picky eater, but we're making some progress. This house goes on a legume kick whenever I'm too lazy to cook meat and my body says "MUST EAT PROTEIN'. Plus, soybeans look fabulous when shelled and flecked over white rice.)

-Rainy Day Reading
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Too Many Cooks (by Emily Franklin), and perhaps some Hopkins?) 
House-y Things
(Dishes, laundry, planning my 3 hour drive tomorrow to visit a Chin Rest Maker in the D.C. Area.)  
And La Photo Cabine with Little Bear:
A Very Cheery Thursday to you! 

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday Musings

Dear California,

You may take our 100 degree weather. Forever. We're glad to send it your way now. But we'll also try to send some rain, too, as a consolation prize. It was an awful week of hot and muggy, and I'm sorry you have to experience our discomfort now. But this too shall pass.

Yep, it's raining today! Even though the weather outside is still warm and muggy, the air conditioned house allows me to wrap myself in a fleecy robe and pretend that it's Fall. H. even made Spiced Apple Cake yesterday! Perhaps I'll try some after lunch. Lovely, lovely day.

When I moved to Virginia in hopes of finding rest and healing, I think I expected immediate relief. Sort of like in cartoons when a harp strums and a character's back is suddenly realigned. But I'm  discovering that healing is a long term process, and many of my bodily ailments are related to my, er, dare I say "misaligned soul". 

For example, my neck pain and back spasms (owowow) directly result from my neurotic drive to be a perfect music student. "Perfect Music Student" became my ultimate end, and since my definition of perfection only involved technical skill, I stopped caring for my physical and emotional well being. Luckily, this lifestyle eventually lead to (a rather gentle) crash 'n burn, and after a "great awakening" with the help of Pa, I am on the road to a more grace-filled life.

I'm giving myself the grace to get lost while driving, read books that I want to read, not finish books I would rather not finish, start projects, not finish projects right away, buy almond butter even though it's more expensive than peanut butter, not beat myself up if I don't walk every day, and even leave the kitchen messy for a whole day. (Yeah, A., unbelievable, isn't it?) 

I'm learning how to feel again, too. I've stopped trying to avoid strong emotions by rationalizing them. Sometimes I'm like my little nanny-ing girls who tell me they just feel SO frustrated, grumpy, disappointed, upset, angry, or sad. No, I won't start having tantrums in the middle of stores. But I will work on not bottling, since bottled emotions, unlike wine, don't really taste better with age.

Well, that's just a rambly blip of all the "non-academic" things I've been learning here. 
 I'm off to be a good student and work on Assignment 1. Baths really are heavenly.
I'll leave you with this Cheery Owl-y Video:

They are my favourite! :)Especially the one in the middle. Ahem. 


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Lesson From Living 101

Section 1: On Surviving and Thriving
Subsection A: Managing Stress, Anxiety, Grumpy Bugs, an Upset Stomach and an Aching Back

Take a Bubble Bath
(Cooking/Food Magazines are suggested, but not required.)

For severe cases,
Take an even longer Bubble Bath.

Assignment 1: Follow the above instructions.

Student: E.O.
Grade: A

Monday, 20 September 2010

H&M Visit NYC(!!): Part IV--The Final Instalment

H. and I spent Monday morning exploring Central Park. 
(We ate another cupcake for breakfast. Actually, it was breakfast's dessert since we brought sandwiches, too.) 

 More green..
Lovely, lovely!

A tour of our hostel:

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

H&M Visit NYC (!!): Part III

Even though H. and I took advantage of NYC's dessert opportunities, our main reason for visiting was this event:




We made quite a fuss over what we would wear for this event, and my room was covered in clothes the week before our trip. (Oh, maybe it was also covered in clothes because I had just moved in. Yeah, that, too. You could say that it's just because we're girls. But the Jazz Party proved to me that Mister-Fellows enjoy dressing up just as much as the Lady Folk do. More on that later.)

I'm rather proud of how my hair turned out that day. Not that the style was authentically 1920's, but it was sufficiently curled, pinned, and tucked under a hat. I felt like Miss de Vine from Gaudy Night since my pins kept falling out all day!


 As the pins began to fall...

We did H.'s hair in two braids pinned up and also tucked underneath her hat. I thought she looked absolutely charming.

If you look closely, you can see the braids peeking out from beneath her cloche. Isn't her dress fabulous?

I purchased a pair of perfectly round spectacles,
And they make me look perfectly silly.
But I'm determined to wear them if I ever have to write some sort of thesis. Or maybe just for term papers. Or if I'm ever feeling silly.
And we toured the cars.

We also picknicked on bread, hummus, cheese, and champagne sorbet. (No picture, but our meal was delicious.)


We danced, 
We watched a vintage bathing suit contest,
We listened to the masses of costume-clad people talk high society, 
 And we and managed to stay cool despite the 100 degree weather. 


We also decided that all men ought to wear suspenders.

Part IV will be about Central Park and our Hostel tour.

Bear with me, please.

I apologize if the new layout gives you a headache. I'm currently playing dress up with my blog, and even though I'm not perfectly satisfied, I have to leave it dressed in something.

So it's dressed in green.

But I'll work on it, and I promise to send you pain killer if it really is that bad.


Saturday, 11 September 2010

H&M Visit NYC(!!): Part II

Here's my confession to preface this post: I like cupcakes. A lot. But when the cupcake craze first swept through California, I refused to succumb to "the trend" and visit any popular shops. This was a silly vow, and it only lasted a few months. When the Perfect Circle Cupcakery opened a few miles away from my house, I give in to curiosity. Can you blame me? They advertised chocolate and buttercream! What more could I ask for? Well, I guess I could be more specific and ask for a deliciously moist chocolate cupcake topped with homemade buttercream. And this is what The Perfect Circle gave to me on that chilly October afternoon. It tasted homemade, and I was satisfied.

Okay, you're probably thinking: "WAIT WAIT WAIT. It tasted homemade?? Why would you buy a cupcake that you could make yourself at home?!?! You could have a dozen little cakes for half the price!"

(Well, that's what I said to myself at first.)

And this is how I responded to myself:

1) I don't want a dozen little cakes. There aren't always enough hungry cupcake-lovin' people in my house to eat the other eleven, and I really ought not eat all twelve. So in a way, I'm wasting less food by purchasing one cupcake for myself than by baking twelve and only eating one.

2) Sure, I'm paying for labor, service, supplies, ambiance, and the cuteness factor of the-little-white-box-and-brand name. But sometimes I'm willing to pay the price when I don't have time to bake and I want to eat a cupcake.

3) I would rather my cupcake taste homemade if homemade means delicious. (I'm sure you could debate over the definition of delicious and proper taste and what not, but perhaps you should do so over some coffee and cupcakes.) I've always preferred the taste of a cupcake made from scratch over a cake mix cupcake. Not as springy, but with a tender crumb and melt in your mouth moist. ...Ahhhh. 

4) Context? I don't eat cupcakes every day. Rather, they're saved for celebratory occasions like birthdays or surviving finals, etc.

Of course, not every cupcake shop experience has been wonderful. There are dry crumb days, and overly sweet frosting days, and even service-is-really-horrid-I-wonder-if-those-girls-eat-lemons-for-breakfast-days. But I think I'd rather try a bakery first before I deny the possibility of good cupcake shop experiences.  
That being said, you can guess what H. and I did in New York.
 I was very, very happy to have a Partner in Dessert (A PID?).

And although I'm still a bit sheepish to admit it, I was wildly excited that we bought cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery.

Banana Cake with Caramel Buttercream, Devil's Food with Mocha Buttercream,
and Chocolate with Traditional Buttercream.
(We could only finish the Banana and Devil's Food that evening. 
Chocolate was saved for breakfast the next morning.)

H. and I also stopped by Sweet Revenge, where we enjoyed their Pure Vanilla cupcake with a glass of milk. (I'm still not telling how much I paid for that glass of milk. But it was worth it.) We didn't bother to photograph anything since the room was very dark and the shop was closing.
Many thanks to H. for joining me with much enthusiasm on my cupcake search!
We win!

H. and I also enjoyed non-cupcake delectables during our trip:

Gelato on a stick from PopBar?
H. chose Almond dipped in Dark Chocolate. 
(There's your Asian tourist picture for the day.)
H. very graciously allowed me to drag her to one of my very favourite places: Le Pain Quotidien.
This restaurant will always remind me of my Dad, since he was the one who first took me here. It also reminds me of Sam, since we often stop in the bakery to pick up a muffin or cookie. And now the cafĂ© will remind me of New York, too. 
(Please pardon the terrible image quality!) 

H. tried the Tuna Tartine and I tried the Quiche Lorraine.

We also shared a bowl of Fresh Tomato Soup,

And we had a very fine supper!
(I suppose it makes up for all of the cupcakes. Or maybe not.)


Next: Part III--Parks, Parties, and a Tour of the Hostel

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Blargady Blarg: A Rambly Post

Well, so much for NYC Trip (!!) Part Two. It exists. At least the idea for the post exists. I just haven't found the will to actually write it. Plus, Blogger's new Photo-Upload system confuses me. I promise I'll do my best to have it up by this weekend so all my dear family can see pictures of New York and Delicious Things to Eat. (For all of you facebook folks, go look at H.'s facebook album. Mmmm. Cupcakes!)

So to answer the much asked question, "What have you been doing with all of your time?" (with different people emphasizing different words), here's a sample:

-I've been watching episodes of Pushing Daisies! I know it might sound like mindless activity, but it's actually quite hard for me to sit through an entire TV episode or movie. Perhaps this stems from my short attention span. Pushing Daisies is a fun and not too emotionally taxing way to practice focusing my attention on one thing at a time. I don't sew, cook, eat, or clean while I watch. But I do relax. And I occasionally burrow myself under the brown blanket whenever there appears anything too intensive (oh, like CRASH DUMMIES in Dandelion Cars). Admittedly, I have an embarrassingly low tolerance for stressful situations, even when depicted through film. But come on, crash dummies are frightening. ...

-It is also horrifying to realize you've just watered two baby squirrels with your hose. Which leads to Thing-I've-Been-Doing #2: Watering for B.D. Neighbour B.D. hired me to water the lawn in preparation for aerating and seed planting. I love this job since it forces me to wake up early and gives me a chance to use my yellow umbrella. (Yes, I accidentally sprayed two blind baby squirrels that had fallen out of their nest. I took the Beatles' advice and let it be. Or let them be. The squirrels were gone when I went back to look this evening.)

-Chicken Curry for Supper, and Chocolate Pudding and Whipped Cream for Dessert. Enough said. Tonight is Lasagna Night.

-Walks through the Neighbourhood, Shrimpy Prawn, Pretend Yoga and Ballet, And Anything That Might Make My Neck Vertebrae Return To A Proper Place.

-Work. I'm nannying for two little girls four days every other week, plus Wednesday on every other week. (It's not as complicated as it sounds. At least the schedule is not complicated. Little girls, on the other hand...) How much I am learning about my own childhood by working with little girls!  Strong displays of emotion always frightened me when I was younger, but I must now learn to handle the unarticulated feelings of four and five year olds. For instance, I've learned that child M. needs help to identify her growling and grrr-ing as "FRUSTRATION" over not being able to color in the lines. Isn't it still frustrating to grown ups when they realize they're not perfect? I could relate with M. and her poor coloring book trials. And I could also relate with her sister, M.R., during her meltdown after school. But I can only empathize and sympathize to an extent. Then I must be firm (gaaaahhh) and somehow gently exercise my authority as the "guardian in the house" to ensure that homework is completed. I don't like this part since it means conflict, and conflict is still difficult for me even when it involves a five year old.

Ma, I am learning so very much about not stressing. And I think you and Pa are saints for raising two daughters.

Martyrdom of Nannyhood? Sounds dramatic, but I'm realizing that any vocation, particularly the ones involving the care of children, require learning how to love and accept grace.

And sometimes grace comes in the form of your housemate making you dinner.


Oh, and when I feel like I have no purpose in life, I sew dinosaurs. (Or at least I try to come up with dinosaur patterns.)

Poor Dinosaur/Nessie/Dragon/Creature. I shall work more on the pattern later.

H. really took a liking to him. (I think it's a him, right?)

He's good for stress-relief-squeezes.


And H. and I have random dance parties.
I am very happy.

Friday, 3 September 2010

H&M Visit NYC(!!): Part 1

      Two weeks ago, I would have considered a nine hour car ride terribly long and arduous. That was two weeks ago. Now, anything less than 40+ hours seems manageable. I guess driving across the country helps build an immunity to day trips in the car.

On Friday morning, H. and I miraculously woke up at 5:30 AM, cooked a hot breakfast of scrambles and toaster waffles, and started driving by 6:15. (I say "miraculous" because I was still running on California time and I didn't go to bed until 1 AM the night before.) 
We reached Baltimore, Maryland by early afternoon. 
Too late, said H., to say GOOD MORNING.
And "goodearlyafternoonBaltimore" just doesn't flow.
We drove by bridges,
And through tunnels that were truly a bore. At least for Number 4. 

H. and I went to look for America.

 We tried to count the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike...


And we drove and drove and drove some more,
Releasing all of our pent up Hoorah's and EEEEEK's and giddy squeals,
Since we soon had to don our Bored Faces for the New York Subway.

In this video, it's hard to tell who is saying what since H. and I have similar sounding camera voices. But this is a sample of what went on in the car. We decided to spare you the torture of our Beatles sing along.

(H. did a much better job than I at this. I often had to bury my face in my bag to hide my excitement. Or I pretended to sneeze. Or my upper lip twitched to no end. Or I looked worried since it's been years since I rode the Subway. Let's just say that I failed at assuming a jaded countenance in New York. But we had a jolly good time.)

Next up: Trains and Subways and Lots of Buttery and Sugary Things To Eat.