Monday, November 12, 2012


Oh my gosh....has it really been SIX WEEKS since I've posted anything?  Sorry it's taken so long, but I promise to post more adventures soon.  October was insanely busy, but expect something soon!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Foodie Love from Boston

This month, my Foodie Penpal came from Boston.  Her name is Tegan, and she sent a package with some things that make me think that we'd get along pretty well in real life.  

Her letter mentioned that she wished she could send me something from a local farmer's market that she worked at over the summer, which sounds heavenly especially because I've worked one around here.

The package included these cute little bottles of infused olive oil and vinegar.  I totally dig stuff that's homemade, and the fact that I can toss it in a salad is just an added bonus.  

Then, I almost jumped up and down when I saw it.  Taza Mexican Dark Chocolate...with CINNAMON.  People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that I love cinnamon and chocolate together.  So delicious that I was tempted to just eat it all right then and there.  

Goat's milk caramels. I opened them before I even thought to take a picture.  Amazing!  

And last but not least...this adorable bottle of maple syrup.  I haven't tried it yet.  I'm sure it'll go great with my waffles.   

Thursday, September 27, 2012


A majority of the people on our cruise are from China. Like, 99% of the people. My family is Chinese, but they have resided in the Philippines for a few generations.  Although we may be genetically similar, the cultural differences weren't lost on us.

Some of the native Chinese people came from the more rural areas of mainland, where social maxims were not so strongly encouraged.  These same people also did not speak English.  I can't stress enough, that not ALL Chinese people were

Unfortunately, being on a boat with about 1900 Chinese people meant that I was getting pushed around a lot. So was my mom. It's super frustrating when you can't tell someone to stop pushing you out of the way because they don't understand anything you're saying.

<Huge sigh>

Unfortunately, it only took about a day for my mom to absorb this behavior into her repertoire.

We were standing in one of the ship's bars. I tried to get out of her way. She grabbed my arms, said, "No, stay right there."

Then she, full on, body checked me.

That's right. She pushed me....

Before I could snap myself out of the momentary bewilderment, she came from behind me, and DID IT AGAIN.

It was then that I really missed having access to my blog, because China blocks all sorts of fun websites.

What made me really laugh was whenever we ran into other Americans, Australians, or Europeans on the boat. She talked about how everyone just assumed that she was "just another rude Chinese person" on the ship.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I have this cousin named Kevin. Actually, it's Kyle, but we call him Kevin.
Kevin's a great kid. And about a year and a half ago, Kevin was diagnosed with Leukemia.  We were shocked and saddened, but we all rallied around him knowing that he would beat it.
We weren't wrong; earlier this year, he went into remission.
By the time we were headed for Manila, we received an e-mail from Kevin's mom. Unfortunately, the bad cells were back, and it looked like a bone marrow transplant would soon be necessary. Kevin's mother and sister were not matches.  She was asking if we would be willing to set of a donor drive?
I sat in the airport, trying not to cry. I looked over at my mom and she scowled, saying, "Your aunt is so dramatic. She acts like he's dying."
Um...he just had cancer. And he has cancer again. I think that counts. Nonetheless, I'm trying to stay positive.
So I say, "Um... I'm going to be honest with you.  I don't think he's going to die. He is pretty sick, but he's young, and I think he can beat it again. However, I can see why his mom would be pretty worried."
If you've ever felt like you knew a train wreck was about to happen, this was my moment.
My mom replied angrily, "I knew it! I KNEW you would take her side!"

In my head I'm thinking: sides?!? There are sides? And if so, whose side is she taking? Cancer?

She continued, "Every time I mention her, you get so defensive of her!"

"Well she's not here to defend herself. I think we should stop talking about her. It makes you angry," I said.

"I AM NOT ANGRY!" She glared in my direction.

I looked around and was grateful that most of the other people in the airport didn't understand English or didn't seem to invest too much interest into our conversation.  It was only a few hours, but it seemed like such a long flight.

Bottom line: My cousin has leukemia. He needs a bone marrow transplant. So many other people do too. If you are on the registry, thank you! If you aren't on the registry yet, please consider signing up.


I know. We're all thinking it, so I'm just going to put it out there.

I'm fat.

And I'm ok with that. Really, I am. My hope is that you're okay with that too.
My mom likes to point this out a whole lot. So does her family. She insists that doing so is a cultural thing. I insist that it's a family thing.

Unfortunately, she didn't seem to remember this whenever we were riding a taxi with my cousin and her husband. My cousin would slide into the backseat first, my mom would follow. Unfortunately, she wouldn't always slide across to the middle of the backseat.  She'd leave about half of a seat's worth of space and then gesture for me to get in.

Then, I'd gesture for her to scoot over. She'd tell me to get in. I'd tell her to scoot over.

It's a vicious cycle. I'd finally just try to fit on half the seat, then close the door on myself to show her that I really am not a magician and I do really need a whole seat.

After about 6 to 8 taxi rides, mom says "Hey! I have an idea. Maybe YOU should get in first."

There is a God.

I agreed, said thank you, and hopped in before she could change her mind. And yes, for a brief second, thought that this would be a great opportunity to leave her half a seat. I let it pass, because I can't consider myself evolved if I make the same mistakes. The thought did make me giggle a little bit though.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Love from Utah

When my first Foodie Penpal box arrived at the house, I had to share it with my mother, who also loves surprises and receiving things in the mail.

"Food penpals? Does such a thing exist?" my mom asked.
"Yes," I said, and proceeded to tell her about Lindsey's blog and the great program she set up.
Intrigued, we both opened the box as quickly as we could.  She quickly became a fan.
I was more than thrilled to find out that my first box was filled with a whole bunch of homemade sweetness!

My box was sent by Jenny, who lives in Utah and authors the blog Royal Little Lambs.
Here's the note Jenny included in my box:

I am not sure I can express how excited I get when people make me things.  Really.  In my opinion, a jar of homemade jam beats a bouquet of flowers.  Did I mention that I also love jars?  And this box came with six of them!  Jenny cans her own stuff. How cool is that?
My box included:

  • Blackberry jam
  • Pickles
  • Apple sauce
  • Apple Butter
  • A jar of raw honey
  • Raspberry jam

After this picture I had to pause to make myself a sandwich with the blackberry jam.  It was heavenly.

I asked Jenny if there was anything in particular that Utah is famous for, and she sent me some Slide Ridge Raw Honey.  I haven't opened it yet, but I know it'll go fast the second I do!

Thank you again Jenny! You are awesome!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


My mom loves to shop. I don't. At least not the way she does it. My mom shops like it's a sport, and she is its seasoned veteran. This little old lady who gets winded so quickly at all of the tourist areas we've visited, can often shop for 5 hours straight without ever complaining that she's tired.
I feel both obligated and doomed to invite her shopping whenever she's around. Since we're traveling together, I don't exactly have the luxury of escaping.
Our last day in Japan, she holds up yen worth about 80 bucks and says, "We should spend this before we get back on the boat. Get whatever you want."
Oh, silly me.  I thought that I knew what those words meant. Or that they actually meant anything at all.
We go into a store that has some really cute clothes. We actually go into several. I can be pretty picky about clothes, and the ones we found in Japan are a bit more expensive than I'm used to, so I want to find something I really love...something I'd wear more than twice.
Unfortunately, I'm not tiny like most of the clothes in Japan, so my choices are limited. Luckily, the last store we entered had a cute little belted shift dress that looked great when I tried it on. Mom agreed. Then she said, "It's 30 dollars?!? We could make that at home. Find something else. We're not buying it."  
Now, I have made quite a few things with a sewing machine, but I have yet to make my own dress. Also, we only have about 20 more minutes to shop. So I tell her, "It's ok, I'm done. I don't want to shop anymore. Let's just get back on the ship."
We constantly play this game. I call it, "what do you want to buy so I can make sure we don't get it?" By now, I'm tired of playing the game. It's hot. It's humid.  We've been walking around stores for a while now, and I haven't bought a thing.  I don't want my last memory of Japan to be of the two of us arguing.  
Before we board, she uses the rest of the money to buy a few small trinkets. We see some nice kimonos, and she insists that I try one on.
It's beautiful, but I'm still missing the shift dress. I would have worked that thing into my wardrobe on a weekly basis.  I look at the prices, and think, wait a minute, this costs more than the dress I wanted.  
And yet, my mom insists it was a good buy.  "You can wear it for Halloween or something."
I desperately want to know what this something is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


It's the last day of the cruise.
I have eaten more that I have ever eaten in a week.
And even though I have worked out several times this week...I probably should never eat. Ever again.
Also, I'm tired. I haven't slept enough.
And sleep almost always takes precedence over food, in my perspective. So unless we've made specific plans, I've asked you to wake me, or the building's on fire, just let me be.

Mom doesn't abide by this rule. Ever.   My sleepy protests that "you should just go get food yourself and let me sleep," have proven extremely ineffective.
So she decides, even though I stayed up last night packing, that I need to wake up 3 hours later and that I must stuff my face one last time before we leave the ship.
While this isn't a horrible idea, I couldn't shake myself from my sleepy zombie state.

As she eventually realized that an extra 30 minutes of sleep wouldn't hurt, she said, "I'll just bring you food. What do you want?"




"Anything else?"

"No. Just potatoes."

So I went back to sleep. Then I woke up 10 minutes later and realized something: if I really wanted potatoes I was going to have to get them myself.

I grabbed a plate, covered it with some vegetables, an egg, a roll.... And of course, potatoes.

I took my food back to the room. Mom said, 'Hey! I brought you food."

I said, "I know, but after you left I couldn't sleep."

I took a look at the plate. There was an egg, sliced melon, and...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Foodie Penpals

There's this lovely girl named Lindsey who created the Foodie Penpal Program on her blog, The Lean Green Bean.  I decided to participate in it for the first time this month, and later on this week, I'll show you what came in my box. :)
I must tell you, if you are anything like me (who loves surprises and receiving things in the mail), it is truly awesome.  As long as I don't forget to sign up, I plan on doing this next month too!

So here's the skinny on the program:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
***If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at to get involved!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Death by Vinegar

 In Kobe, we got to meet with some old family friends. They took us to a beautiful tofu house for dinner. We were fascinated by the presentation of so many little dishes that were individually brought to our table.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting was their drink menu. It included a list of drinks that contain vinegar. I thought it sounded unusual, but lately I've been craving sour things, so I figured I needed to try it at least once.
The drink I got had fruit juice, sparkling water, and vinegar. I took a sip. "Not bad. You can taste the vinegar, but it's not overpowering."

My mom takes a sip and agrees. She also tells us that she's tried drinking vinegar before. Typical advice states that you mix the vinegar with a glass of juice or water.

My mom does not always follow advice or read directions, especially when she really should. She tells us that she just filled a big spoon with vinegar and tried to drink the vinegar. Straight, no chaser.

*PLEASE, do not try this at home. Seriously.

My mom says, "I couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to die. I kept thinking the whole time that this was how I was going to go. Death by vinegar."

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Our stateroom on the ship was an Interior room (translation: no balcony,no windows).
This means that our room gets incredibly dark without the use of lights.
Luckily, there are lights everywhere. The bathroom, vanity, foyer, and each of the beds has its own light, so you're never much further than arms reach from a switch.

I like to sleep with all the lights off. This is a problem. My mom likes to sleep with the lights on. Lucky for me, she falls asleep quickly. After she's been asleep for a while, I turn the lights off, and drift off to dreamland.

I forgot that she always wakes up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

I woke up to her yelling at me for turning off all of the lights.

"Did YOU turn the lights off? DON'T DO THAT! It was so dark, that when I opened my eyes, I panicked. I THOUGHT I WAS BLIND!!!"

We slept with the lights on for the rest of the trip.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I don't know what it is about my mom, but she loves dolls. 

I, on the other hand, think they're super creepy.

She thinks they're amazing. The more lifelike they are, the more excited she gets about them. Somewhere in the back of my storage closet is a porcelain doll that I have never played with, still encased in its original wrapping and box.
About 2 weeks before our trip, she went and found one that bears a strong resemblance to my friend's daughter, but with red hair.  I can't tell whether this makes her more or less scary.

She cradles this doll and rocks it as if it is a real human child.  What's worse is, she decided to prop it up like it was sitting on the windowsill. No matter where you were in our living room, it looked like this doll was staring at you.

We unpacked our boxes, and scary doll just happened to be inside one of them. Even here, she seems scary... It's not just me.  So I see my mom's sister cradling the doll in her arms. Maybe there's something about that generation that just grew up in a time where Chuckie movies didn't exist to make you believe that every miniature human replica could haunt your dreams and hurt you.

At least this means I don't have to come home to scary doll at the end of the month.

P.S. I was really tempted to post a picture of the doll, but I feel like it would result in me not wanting to actually view my own blog.  Ever.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My mom is colorblind. She can differentiate all of the bright colors, but she often confuses the dark colors. Dark brown, navy blue, black, and sometimes even green, all look the same to her. If you've seen the way she dresses sometimes, it probably all makes sense now.
Packing for trips always seems quite a bit more difficult with her, she likes to maximize the weight and space in all of our luggage. This makes it quite difficult for someone like me, wanting to just throw everything I need in a duffel bag and go. She means well. Really, she does. She's a giver. My mom is not he sort of person who likes to show up empty handed. She wants to show up in every city bearing some token of appreciation for our hosts.  
We got off our flight from LA to Manila, and we both couldn't remember what color her check in luggage was. We typically take a picture of our precious cargo before we part with it at LAX, but this time, we forgot. I watched as my mom pointed at every single piece of luggage that was a similar size, saying, "no that's not ours. No, not that one either. You've already pointed at that one 3 times.". Finally, our porter grabbed a piece of luggage with a shiny gold ribbon tied to it.
It was BLACK.

We were both wrong.

I tried to imagine all of her solo trips, and how frustrating it must have been to try and find her luggage on her own.
My brothers and I might need to chip in and get her some fancy, brightly colored suitcases for her birthday. I'm thinking lime green.


My mom LOVES mirrors. She especially loves taking pictures of people in mirrors. Call it vanity, but she's immediately enamored with practically any reflective surface. She reminded me of this the first time I came out of the restroom on the ship. She realized that if she sat on my bed she could take a picture of my reflection in the mirror across from the bathroom. She beamed as she showed me the picture. It was like she had made a long-awaited discovery.

Really, that's what every girl needs: a permanent memory of herself walking out of the bathroom.
She was so proud, she insisted on showing EVERYONE this picture at dinner.
If you ever catch her with her Ipad, I'm sure she'll show you too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Gift

This crazy whirlwind trip I'm taking is a graduation gift from my mom. I am not completely sure gift is the right word for it.
My mom knows that I've wanted to go to China. I've always wanted to go... I just wasn't quite sure that her taking me would be part of the plan. She said she wanted one last great adventure for me, before I start working. I reluctantly said yes; as most of you know, past trips were nothing short of disastrous, always leaving our relationship permanently scarred. We were actually getting along before she asked me about this trip. It sounded amazing from my perspective, but having her accompany me, made me feel like I'd just be dragging her around Asia.
How do you say no to the trip of a lifetime? I'd be able to knock something off my bucket list, visit a good friend, and buy my favorite face wash in bulk.
This left a lot of my friends saying, "Are you crazy?" or "are you going to be okay?"
But as some reminded me, my mom isn't exactly young anymore. Who knows? This really could be our last grand adventure together.

So I said yes.

Then she said, well if we're going to Asia, "we might as well stop by the Philippines and see the family."
And knowing how exhausted I'd be by the time we got there, how could I possibly say no?
So I said yes. Yes to 7 days on a boat. Yes to 4 countries in Asia. Yes to 8 separate flights.

All with my mother.

Is This Your Shirt?

My mom often has this habit of just wearing whatever she finds in and around the house. Clothes, shoes, whatever it is, she figures it's placement on her property makes it part of her domain.

So she wakes up and turns to me, pointing at the shirt she's wearing. She says, "is this shirt yours?"

"No," I answer.

"Is it your brother's?"


"Oh. I don't know whose shirt this is. But it's really soft," she murmurs as she falls back asleep.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tour of Asia

We're getting ready to leave for the airport now.  I'll try and blog when I can.  :)

I Made You Dinner

My family comes from a culture where food is a dominating love language. People feed you to show you that the care deeply for you; to reciprocate, you eat the food.
I have been a vegetarian for almost 16 years now. My "diet" has caused a lot of controversy between my mother and me. She is an amazing cook, but her repertoire is highly meat-based, so telling her that I won't eat meat was akin to stabbing her in the back. At the beginning, she was extremely resistant to my choice of lifestyle, insisting that this was how my teenage rebellion manifested itself, or that perhaps it was just a fad. Clinging to her animal-heavy upbringing, she also posited that a life without meat couldn't possible be healthy.  We struggled for so long that even just a few years ago, she could be heard saying "Oh, you're still going to do that?" with more than a hint of disappointment in her voice.

Year after year, I would come home with lab results that proved that my cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels were normal.  She was surprised every time, especially after realizing that her own lab results were less than stellar.  Doctors started telling her she needed to start eating a diet more like mine.
About a year ago, I came home to my mom excitedly proclaiming, "Come eat! I made you dinner!"
You have to understand, that for almost 16 years, I've had to fend for myself. I've learned how to cook for myself, where to find the best produce, and attempted to even grow my own food.  So when my mother said, "Come eat! I made you dinner!" I looked over my shoulder to see if she was talking to someone behind me.
Both curious and afraid, I sat at the dinner table. She brought a large bowl from the kitchen and proudly placed it in front of me.
I peered in, to find a large pile of clean, chopped iceberg lettuce.

Just lettuce.

I looked back up at her excited face as she exclaimed, "I made you a salad!  I know you love salad."  Indeed. My mom has no idea how to properly feed a vegetarian, but God, I love her for trying.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That's Just My Face

I love my Mom. Like really REALLY love her....perhaps more than anyone in this whole world. Above all, you have to know this one fact to understand how our relationship works.

My mom and I argue a lot. I could get into the details, but really, we fight mostly about nothing. We can never really just agree to disagree, and my mother definitely does not like to give advice that isn't taken.  Subsequently, she is probably as constantly frustrated by me as I am with her.

One day, I oh-so-foolishly tried to explain one of the reasons why I find it so difficult to have a conversation with anyone who looks at me the way she does. Her eyes convey a mixture of anger and disappointment, and she listens with pursed lips, like she's preparing a rebuttal no one could ever be prepared for.  This look makes me regret saying anything just as soon as I've said it. I've pretty much only seen her scowl at me and a select few people. This leads me to feel like she saves it just for me. 

And of course, telling her this only makes her give me a more intensified version of this look as she says "That's just my face. I look like this to everyone. You're just too sensitive."

Oh, how I wish I had a picture of this face, so you could see it.  Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to take one...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hello there!

Welcome! If you've talked to me for more than 10 minutes at any point in our lives, chances are good that you've probably heard a story or 2 about my mother. If you've met her, you probably think that she's the sweetest little old lady ever....and if you've met me, she's probably the funniest  (albeit unintentionally comedic) person you've ever heard of.  My mother and I have this relationship that causes me more pain, frustration, confusion, and laughter than any other relationship in my life.  She is definitely the most amusing person I have ever known, and she's just so darned funny that it's impossible to keep all of the hilarity to myself.  I never actually thought I'd put these stories in writing, but after hearing, "I'd read it!" more than a few times, I knew I had to at least make a solid attempt at breathing life into this crazy idea.  So expect stories filled with ridiculousness, frustration, and of course, my dear mother.  OH, and whatever you do, please know that she would be mortified if she ever found out that I told you these stories. So please, I beg of you, do not share this with absolutely everyone you know (especially if you know her), and beware of people standing over your shoulder reading along with you.