Today’s Happy Thoughts: My Favorite Things

Today’s Happy Thoughts:  My Favorite Things

I saw someone was writing what 5 thing that make her happy on her blog.  I was inspired by her and here are 5 things make me happy at this moment, 10:56am on April 7th Tue (it changes slightly & often J)

The fact that my longtime friend Rika will be joining me in Kyoto this next week for 1.5 days.  I haven’t seen her since December 2008.  She is such a caring, kind, classy and beautiful (inside and out) person.  When I was younger, I always wonder why I didn’t grow up like her.  She has my highest regards.

Going to visit Kyoto in 1.5 days.  I am not completely excited yet but it makes me happy when I think about all these food I can eat (I will pig out when I am there!) and temples I visit just spend some time with myself.

Oh my god, I can’t believe I am writing about this.  This Japanese TV show called “Dr. Koto Shinryojo” is actually making me happy?  Yes it is.  Don’t judge.  It is a great human drama.  This one young genius surgeon arrived this small little farthest West island of Japan where takes 6-hour ferry ride just to get to the main land from the huge and prestigious hospital in Tokyo.  The island has a population of only 1,500 people and they have never had an established clinic with quality medical staff and services.  He struggles hard at first because people living on that island don’t trust him.  They are very resistant and not welcoming.  Because of his never-give-up personality, chill-ness and his talent, gradually he starts to earn everyone’s trust.  I did a Dr. Koto marathon this past weekend and watched 13 episodes in 2 days.  I feel like such a loser but what can I say?  Season 2 is waiting for me when I go home tonight (crap, I will have to pack for the trip!).  Again, please do not judge.

My Ginger.  Especially when she leans over in my bed and starts to snore.  She is almost 10 years old, stubborn and independent.  She loves corn kernels and white rice.  She also farts a lot.

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Archie.  My best friend, my person and partner in crime.

I lead a very happy life.

A Well Read Woman: and Well Traveled Women

A Well Read Woman: and Well Traveled Women

I love books so I read a lot.  I love traveling and I get out there a lot.

When I was about half of my current age, I was traveling through Thailand.  I was dirty, filthy and broke.  I was hungry.  At one point, a  well-dressed Caucasian couple threw a can of cat food at me when I was sitting street side in Bangkok starving. Two not-well-dressed-at-all kids took me to their home to feed me what they already DON’T have.  This couple seems they had enough money versus these kids’ family who don’t have enough of anything.  These kind of experience opened up my eyes and my heart.  Wide open.

Reading has the same effect on me.  I can be inside of a book and travel though the book.  I get to experience tons and my heart soars.

A well-read and traveled woman is very emotional, opinionated, strong, stubborn, protective of her own space and wants to be alone many times.

On contrary, she is kind-mannered and (most likely) has a fuzzy heart.  She is just afraid of showing that.

If you ever wish to lead an interesting and never-a-dull-moment kind of life, she would be a perfect companion.  I won’t say it is easy but you will never get bored, I promise.

Lesson Learned: from Ferris Bueller and Ginger the Chihuahua

Lesson Learned: from Ferris Bueller and Ginger the Chihuahua

Ferris Bueller is excellent.  Not only is he charming, he is quite insightful.

He said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  That is something.

It was about 50 degrees and sunny in Seattle yesterday.  I was sitting on the bench right next the “black hole sun” (remember the song of Sound Garden?) in Volunteer Park, facing west to the ocean.  One guy with guitar and a woman with cello played a series of music, basically they were having a free concert for people sitting in the park.  Archie and Ginger, my overweight Chihuahua took a walk somewhere in the park while I sat and wrote.  I am sure they enjoyed the moment as much as I enjoyed my alone time.

I think a lot.  Sometimes I overthink.  Actually all the time.  I over-analyze things.  It kills me.  I think about what’s going on in the world, my parents’ health or worst of all, what other people think about me.  I worry so much about it.  I compare myself to others A LOT, then I make myself inferior to others.  I allow myself to do that.  I create thing in my head even though those thoughts are not often true.  Lots of assumptions.  Not trusting others.  Most of all, I am not trusting myself.

I read this one article yesterday morning.  It was about human thoughts and was suggesting that you “check-in” when you are creating problems in your own head, being negative or are in a dark place.  Meaning, you should ask yourself if you actually have solutions for problems/issues that are percolating in your head.  The article assures that you don’t have any resolutions most of the time.

While I was taking a mental break and soaking up the sun, I was thinking, “the article was right.  I do not have any solutions for these problems that I am creating.”  I was worrying about my work stuff that hadn’t even started yet.  I dislike not being prepared, but what I was worrying about is NOT preparing.  I was just creating bad scenarios that might not even happen.

What I need to do is be more like Ferris Bueller or my dog.  Both Ferris and Ginger know how not to worry about the future you don’t have any control of.  They just enjoy theirs “asses off”.

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Savory & Manila: Clam Talk

Savory & Manila: Clam Talk

At U-district farmers market, this cheerful, personable and warm hearted lady working the Hama Hama stand and I were chatting about their excellent quality of oysters.  She recommended clams this week and they carried 2 kinds of clams, savory and manila. I bought both.

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It was BEAUTIFUL today.  It was around 50 degrees and sunny.  Yes, SUNNY in Seattle.  I am happy that I was able to have a relaxing Sunday.  So, what I need is an easy but delicious meal on this relaxed early Sunday evening.

Combination of savory and manila clams, about 2lb.

Half of mayor lemon, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

Little bit of white wine

I put the above in my favorite Staub cast iron pot and put a lid on and left alone for about 10 min over medium low heat.

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Sliced baguette (from Tall Grass Bakery) toasted in a Turk iron frying pan to accompany that.

There, all I need is to sit down and enjoy this simple and relaxed dish with Archie.  I even have a cherry pie from Janeli’s Alki Pie Company in the oven right now.

I can’t ask for a better Sunday night than this.  I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday.

Right vs. Wrong: Who Decides What Freedom is for people?

Right vs. Wrong:  Who Decides What Freedom is for people?

My heart has been aching for months with regards to what’s happening in Syria.  3 days ago, I could barely stand what just happened.  I nearly lost all hope for humankind.  I felt hopeless, fearful, sad and heartbroken.

Then, I am conflicted.  I am confident they are doing wrong things but what if they believe they are doing a right thing for freedom?

Freedom does not mean that you are “FREE” from responsibilities.  To me, freedom is to let go of things not meant for me (I am still working toward my own freedom) and be kind to others.  But who gets to decide THEIR freedom?  What if they really believe that they are working toward to their own freedom?  Do I get to decide they are completely wrong?

When I saw this photo this morning I thought that freedom also meant not giving up and speaking up.  Freedom requires responsibilities.  Freedom requires focus and believing in humankind.  I have to decide now and today I will not give up until the day freedom for everyone comes.  Humankind.  We call us humankind because we are able to be kind to each other, right?

I will never give up my right to be kind to others.

Here is what Rosa Parks said.

I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

We all struggle and this is remarkably hard to do but it is also nice to know there are people out there who don’t give up on humankind’s love and freedom.

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Chopping Therapy: Prep for Gyoza

Chopping Therapy:  Prep for Gyoza

It really helps me when I have a bad day or I am upset about something.  Chopping vegetables is one of my meditation methods.

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When I was a young child, helping my mother and grandma in the kitchen was mandatory.  My mom started to let me use “old person’s kitchen knife” when I was 4.  I always wanted to sound like them.  They make this passionate, happy and fun sound of their knives hitting wooden cutting board with 100 miles per hour speed.

When I have a rough day at work, I tend to choose a dish requires a lot of chopping.  Gyoza (dumpling) is one of them.  I have a fond memory of helping my mom to prepare and wrap gyoza.  You chop Chinese chives, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage and onion.  You chop them all as finely as you possibly can.  How fun does it sound?  I feel like I am getting high, just thinking about it.  I guess I am a creature who is easy to be pleased.

This is my amusement and is also delicious.  You have umami from soy sauce, pork and veggies and sweetness from pork and other ingredients.

1.  Mix REALLY well ground pork (or mix of ground pork and ground beef), chopped Chinese chives, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage, onion, soy sauce, salt (lots), pepper, potato starch (needs to be potato starch, not corn starch), sesame oil.  Use your hand.  It gets messy, but no utensils or tools, just your hand.

2.  Wrap 1 with very thin gyoza wrappers (you can buy them at Asian grocery stores).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2_p_ny4eTE

3.  Place them in oiled and heated skillet.

3a.  Cook over high heat for 1 minute or so

3b.  Reduce heat to medium and add little bit of water (not too much) and put the lid over skillet.  Leave it for 2-3 min

3d.  Remove the lid and increase heat to medium high and add oil.

4.  Enjoy

Only thing I would like to mention is that it is SUPER important not to move around gyozas in the skillet.  Just leave them as they are until they are done.  Oh, that smell while cooking!  This Japanese soul food’s glorious aroma takes me right back to where I grew up.  My mom teaching me how to wrap dumplings and my small hands trying to mimic what she does.

Now, pull out your well-sharpened knife and start chopping.  You will know exactly what I am talking about as soon as you finish chopping first clove of garlic.

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Sunday Happiness = Winter Vegetables in Staub 24cm

Sunday Happiness = Winter Vegetables in Staub 24cm

I used to dislike Sundays.  Lots of people don’t like Mondays but Sundays were loneliest and longest of the week to me.  However, since 2010, that has changed drastically.

I am cooking cauliflower today for lunch.  A whole cauliflower plus some other winter vegetables (more like left over veggies in the fridge), lotus root, Japanese sweet potatoes, carrots, carrots, brussels sprouts.  Here is what I did.

1.  Place all vegetables in cast iron pot

2.  Add white wine vinegar, water (50ml-ish? maybe), olive oil, sea salt, thyme, ground cumin seed

3. Put the lid on and cook about 25 minutes over low-medium heat.

4.  Bon appetit!

Accompaniments are La Parisienne’s demi-baguette www.laparisienneseattle.com/gallery.html and Loki Fish Co.’s smoked salmon spread http://www.lokifish.com/

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I get to do this kind of stuff every weekend.  Not only that, I get to share these dishes, joy, love and passion for food and cooking with my best friend.  Lonely Sundays?  I am so over it.