Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Happy Holidays!

{I'm dreaming of a tropical Christmas}
I'll be signing off and spending next week with family, but wishing you a Happy Happy Holiday and New Year's! May yours be filled with peace and wonderful moments among loved ones!

Take good care and can't wait to see you again in the new year!
{Santa and Mrs. Clause - tan and barefoot in Hawaii :)}
{Photos taken in Honolulu, Hawaii.}

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Mangoes - a juicy, tropical staple from my childhood....

The rainbowed goodness of a refreshing Hawaiian shave ice (kind of like Italian ice)...

The sight of big waves pounding Hawaiian shores in winter! (Can't you tell I want a tropical vacation? :))

(Top photo of mango taken in Honolulu, Hawaii. Middle and bottom images via Just Hungry and Panoramio.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


A moment of calm in recent days. (Sorry! As you can see, I have no idea how to take lowlight photos - but I couldn't resist the moon through hazy clouds.:))

Monday, December 20, 2010

Warming up for a new week: Cauliflower soup

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend & I must apologize for my unintended weeklong hiatus - sudden work travel & deadlines kept me from going online much. But I'm so looking forward to visiting!
Meantime, what could be better for fortifying ourselves against a new week than warming soup? My significant other greeted my return with this soothing recipe - perfect for body and soul!
~ Wishing you a perfectly soothing week ahead! ~
Adapted very slightly (skim milk, not whole) from a Cook's Illustrated recipe I jotted down ages ago. This soup can be pureed in one batch in most 5-7 cup blenders. 
  • 2 tablespoons (~30g) butter, olive oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, 3 medium shallots, or 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (~30ml) white wine
  • 1 medium head (about 2 pounds, or 32 ounces) cauliflower, stems discarded and florets cut into bite size pieces to yield 5 cups
  • 2 cups (~500ml) chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (~5g) ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups (~125-155ml) skim (fat-free) milk
  • Optional: minced fresh chives or parsley
Heat butter or oil in a large (easily-pourable) saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine & cauliflower; stir until wine evaporates, about 30 seconds.

Add stock, salt and pepper to taste, and ground coriander to saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover & cook cauliflower until tender, about 12 minutes.

Pour or ladle cauliflower mixture into blender. Add 1/2 cup milk; blend until very smooth. Return soup to saucepan; cook over low heat until warmed through. If soup is too thick, stir in more milk. Adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with minced chives or parsley and chow! (Preferrably with crusty bread :)).

Little notes:
If you don't have a standard blender for pureeing, the next best thing is a handheld immersion blender, but don't use a food processor because it tends to leak hot liquid. (I think I mentioned this tip in the past, but since I keep making this silly mistake myself, I thought it was worth repeating!)

(Images via  Mixed Greens Blog and Parade.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Thanks so much for your lovely comments about our new place, made me feel better about our chaotic move!
You may also "visit" my new world at lovely Ren at Lady of the Arts and her amazing Around the World series, if you like. Meet bloggers worldwide as they interpret inside, outside, creative space, and wild card through photos.

Hope you're having a sweet weekend! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Find simplicity

{A moment of sweet sun in our new place}
Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein

Although it's been a too-long workweek and I'm still finding new rhythms in a new town, we're sloowly creating order from chaos, forging new chapters. I wouldn't want it any other way.
~ Have a wonderful weekend, full of simple harmony! ~

P.S. Just for fun, has anyone seen Black Swan? I'm so intrigued!

(Black Swan image via FanPop.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunrise in Florence, Italy

The Arno River, Florence
Digital cameras keep getting better, but there's something I find romantic about film. This fuzzy shot was from a disposable camera I toted through Italy and multiple Italian rainstorms (yet lasted!).

P.S. For the full effect, try this Puccini aria (used in A Room with a View), about throwing oneself into Florence's Arno River over tormented love. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's voice makes me weepy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things I learned at the dinner party

{Gifts from the New World}
#1. If you say you're from Hawaii, people get very curious.
#2. No matter how smart you think you are, you'll feel dumb in a room full of famous Ivy League professors.
#3. About 60% of the world's crops originated in the "New World" - the Americas: tomatoes, peanuts, potatoes, avocados, zucchinis (courgettes), eggplants (aubergines), vanilla, chocolate...

Of course, #3 got me thinking (and taking a page from writer Bill Bryson) - not only did New World food get incorporated into foreign cuisines, it became the foreign cuisine...
Can you imagine Italian food without tomatoes?

Or Thai food without peanut sauce?

Or English fish and chips without chips? (Terrible thought!)

P.S. The Tea Maker - a short, sweet tribute to John Lennon.

And before I sign off, a big thank you to lovely Marilou at Twenty York Street for passing on a blog award! More soon!

(Images via Edible Portland, The Stir, iFood and Virgin Media. Some thoughts on food history are from writer-journalist Bill Bryson's At Home, chapter on "The Dining Room.")

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a (chocolate) mouse!
It's hard to say no to these L.A. Burdick sweeties :)
And if chocolate's not a good enough reason, just look at those little faces and satiny tails!

"Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of those pieces." - Writer Judith Viorst

P.S. The dark chocolate mice have an orange interior, the milk chocolate ones a mocha interior, and the white chocolate ones a cinnamon interior - yum! (And their ears are almonds.)

(Images via Serious Eats, L.A. Burdick and

Monday, December 6, 2010

A walk in the woods

Even in this bare-branch season, the great outdoors treats us to sweet, little surprises...
A sudden pile of pretty-shaped leaves, as we stepped outside...

The cool, rough pattern of an old tree trunk (I love old trees)...

Mother Nature's last splash of red, still hanging on...

A stone marking the route of George Washington's march by night to a battle against the British in 1777...
{I love that almost 250 years later, an American and a Brit would stumble on this American-British war site, during a peaceful walk in the woods, hand-in-hand, in love.} 
~ Wishing you a peaceful week ahead, full of sweet, little surprises! ~

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cheat: Almost-instant corn soup

For those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when you've barely enough energy to think about food (never mind cook!), this is warming, light and almost-instant.
~ Have a warm weekend, full of peace and relaxation! ~
ALMOST-INSTANT CORN SOUP (Serves 2-3, Time: 10 min)
A simplified version of the corn soup you find in most Chinese restaurants, but without the artificial flavourings. 
  • One can (~14.75 ounce) cream style corn (total cheat - using canned/tinned ingredients!)
  • Using the can from the corn, about 1 can of water or chicken stock (for thicker soup, use less)
  • One egg, lightly beaten
  • Fresh-ground black pepper, salt, butter
  • Optional: Bit of cornstarch or flour mixed with water for even thicker soup (~1/2 to 1 teaspoon mixed well with ~1/4 cup water)
  • Optional: Chicken breast, minced (or canned crab meat)
  • Optional: Scallions (green onion), cilantro/coriander or other favorite vegetables, chopped
If using, mix minced chicken breast with water to cover and set aside. In saucepan, mix water or chicken stock and cream corn. Stir well and boil. Add optional chicken breast (or crab meat), stir well until mixture boils again.

Slowly add optional corn starch mixture, stir until everything boils again. Add beaten egg and turn off heat, stirring constantly until egg turns opaque. Add pepper, salt, butter to taste + veg. Stir well & chow!

Extra notes:
I confess, I know people either cringe at cream style corn, or embrace it and run with it (e.g., dressing this up with fancy white asparagus, fresh ginger, saffron etc). I'm the latter - I'll embrace anything that makes my eating life easier, *especially* if it's reasonably healthy! :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Double Life of Veronique

Only because it's one of my favorite movies, exploring life's mysteries. I get a different feeling each time I watch it and the cinematography (another kind of photography :)) is lovely.

(Images via Bill's Movie Emporium, Wonders in the Dark, the rasx context(#3,5) and the moviedb.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo du jour: Palm trees

{Kakaako, Hawaii - a popular sunset-watching spot}
Just an injection of the tropics on this December day. :)

{Photographed on island of Oahu.}

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mini world food tour: Doughnuts

I had no idea when I posted on Hawaii's malasadas that similar doughnuts were so universal! Thanks to your sweet comments, I got a delish education on sugary dough treats around the world...
 Dutch oliebollen (thanks Signe and Inez!)

Jewish sufganiyot (thanks Ren and Topcoat!)

Polish pączki (thanks Just!)

Croatian krafne (thanks Elisa!)

I knew about this one, but I'll post it anyway!
New Orleans-via-France beignets (thanks Runaway Romantique!)

Another peek at Hawaii-via-Portugal malasadas :)

And much more fried dough around the world!
Is there a similar treat that you know and love?

(Images via Tippin' The Scales, This and That, No Sleep Til Mysore, Croatia Travel Information, Chuck PalahniukTeam Vision Virtual, and final collage images via Fried Dough Around the World.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

In the holiday mood: Etsy lovelies

Hope you had a fantastic weekend! I had a delicious Friendsgiving (btw, using Kahlua instead of marsala wine makes tiramisu extra-yum!) and browsed Etsy lovelies to welcome the giving season -- here's just a few lovelies to get you in the holiday mood! :)
~ Have a lovely Monday and week ahead! ~

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't we have so much to be thankful for? In the spirit of the (US) Thanksgiving holiday, amazing Marilou at Twenty York Street has tagged me to share a gratitude list. Thank you Marilou! I couldn't be happier to oblige. :)
  • I am thankful to be alive - a privilege denied many
  • For having a roof over my head & place to sleep each night
  • For not having to worry where my next meal will come from
  • For my safety - I can walk down my street without fear of bombs, war, torture
  • And for what I have - more health than sickness, loved ones, priceless immaterial experiences, passions to pursue
~ I'm signing off early this week, but wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving full of laughter, peace, thankful thoughts, and nourishment in body and soul! ~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Midnight Turkey {+quiz}

I once co-hosted a Friendsgiving, to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, with my urban NYC tribe.

To paraphrase a friend, we drew on one another's cooking skills to round out (and heck, overstuff) the meal. The turkey was served at midnight, but it didn't matter - the city never sleeps!

To see our Midnight Turkey recipe, just head on over here. :)

Meantime, I've been tagged by Ginta at Hunting and Gathering and Hitomi Neko to answer the I Love Your Blog quiz! Thank you! Ginta has a lovely way of mixing terrific 2nd-hand finds with current pieces to create something utterly new. Hitomi says she's a blogging newbie, but I've already enjoyed her film reviews. :) Here goes...

1. Why did you create the blog? I may have mentioned this before, but because of my nomadic life, it was a way to feel more connected to faraway family & friends.

2. What kind of blogs do you follow? I love blogs by people who have a passion or just good fun writing about their joys!

3. Favorite makeup brand? I'm not terribly loyal, I'll try anything that sounds promising. :)

Jason Wu's Spring 2011 collection
4. Favorite clothing brand? My latest kick is Jason Wu. So classic and feminine.

5. Your indispensable makeup product? Burt's Bees lip balm.

6. Your favorite color? For clothes, lilacs, dusky roses and rich browns. For interiors, bright colours (one of my last apartments was completely in primary colours!) or soothing neutrals.

7. Your perfume? These days, very occasionally, Kiehl's musk. Before that, girly Flor (and I'm not that girly, even!).

8. Your favorite film? Most recently, the French film Lady Chatterley - not at all rubbishy, more like a sensitive love story with the exquisite Marina Hands as leading lady.

Verona, Italia
9. What country would you like to visit and why? I'm dying to return to Italy, and always wanted to visit an old friend in Norway (I owe her several trips!)

10. Make the last question and answer to yourself: What invention would help your life? Something that instantly transports me to any part of the world! And anything that makes me look like I get 8 hours of sleep & workout 2 hours everyday!;) XO

(Images via Channel4, newbatteri, Travel Holiday, Fragrantica, and Destination360.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stuff that made my weekend

Finding this fuzzy photograph I took with a disposable camera, the view from my second-to-last apartment in New York City

Incredibly dense, moist chocolate babka

{Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows}
Hearing just British accents (and glimpsing London) again :)

More lovely photographs from Wai Lin Tse

Unpacking the last box from our latest move, yippee!
~ Wishing you an incredible week ahead! ~

(Top photograph was taken in Manhattan, of George Washington Bridge in the mist. Remaining images via Good Bread This, NY Daily News, Wai Lin Tse and GigPark.)
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