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.