It’s Monday (October 19, 2020)

We are back to Monday again, huh. How was your weekend?

It sounds a bit sad that I get excited to see persimmons at the farmers market. But yay! Persimmons! It’s important to take note of the little things sometimes, like the changing of the seasons and with it, the changing of the seasonal fruits. As someone who grew up in Singapore, a tiny country with little room for agriculture, pretty much all of our fruits, vegetables, meat, fish come from other countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia. And as a result – at least at the time I was growing up – produce available in supermarkets wasn’t quite seasonal. After all, we don’t have seasons in the equator (well except monsoon season), and Australian seasons are the reverse to what many of us (more influenced by the US and the UK) typically think of as seasons.

Had some Mexican food for lunch on Saturday. Also margaritas!

But for the kids, I made (for the first time) mango lassi. Frozen mango cubes, Greek yogurt, whole milk, some honey to sweeten it.

Currently…

Reading:

Wintersong – S Jae-Jones

Watching:

Game of Thrones

Great British Bake Off

Listening:

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants

Eating:

Toast with peanut butter for breakfast

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

I have a pork tenderloin in the freezer, so I was thinking of maybe a char siu (Chinese-style barbecue pork) with it. Served with rice and stirfried vegetables.

The leftover charsiu can be used in fried rice, or fried noodles, or on top of instant noodles.

Last week:

I read:

We Are Not Free – Traci Chee

Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw

I posted:

Beef and beer pie #WeekendCooking

Library Loot (October 14 to 20)

Super Long Book Titles #TopTenTuesday

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (October 12, 2020)

My older boy had his first band class! He’s playing the trombone. And we all had a good laugh as he played his first few notes. He’s practising in the guest room which is a bit away from the rest of the house…

Lots of baking last week…

Walnut bread on the left, chocolate babka on the right

Some dishes from this Malaysian-Burmese restaurant. First time trying Mohinga, which is a fish noodle soup, quite delicious. Apparently Myanmar’s national dish and often eaten for breakfast. The second dish is wat dan hor which in Singapore we know more as hor fun.

We also drove down to Palo Alto for some Shake Shack burgers! It’s funny how we hadn’t eaten out in ages – we do quite a bit of takeout as we want to support our local restaurants (also I can’t cook every single meal). But luckily Shake Shack is in the Stanford Mall so it’s more of an outdoors-type mall and there are plenty of benches to sit (away from pedestrians) and have a meal.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

Listening:

Eating:

I had homemade walnut bread for breakfast

Drinking:

Coffee. It’s one of those mornings where I woke up feeling tired!

Cooking:

Last week was a nice cool week but this week is going to be warm once again, so not sure how much oven-style cooking I want to do. Maybe I’ll cook some bibimbap, use any leftover rice to make fried rice. So far that’s what I’ve got.

Last week:

I read:

I posted:

Dim Sum of All Fears

Library Loot (October 7 to 13)

Book Covers with Fall Vibes #TopTenTuesday

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (October 5, 2020)

Hello October!

And we are still in tshirts and shorts and the fans are going at full speed. It looks like it may be a bit cooler this week so here’s hoping! I just long to be able to pull on a sweater, you know? I’m happy to leave the flip flops behind and get down to autumn.

Here’s what we did last week….

It was Mid-Autumn Festival on Thursday, according to the lunar calendar. Unfortunately it was also a bad air day so we couldn’t go outdoors for our lantern walk, and the kids had to do it indoors.

But the kids’ teachers had some small fun crafts to do during distance learning (in case you’re new here, my kids attend a Mandarin immersion program at a public school). The second graders made mooncakes out of play dough. The fourth graders made “mooncakes” out of puff pastry and a tangyuan (Chinese dessert ball made of glutinous rice flour and a sweet filling usually red bean or black sesame, most times served in sweet soup. Tastes a bit like mochi). It really isn’t like the usual mooncakes you get, which have a pastry that’s more like shortcrust and inside is often lotus paste – although there are very many different mooncake fillings, especially if you’re in Singapore, like chocolate, earl grey, champagne truffle even!

Oh and my order from Lupicia tea came in! Lupicia is a tea company from Japan and there used to be a store in San Jose inside the Mitsuwa supermarket. It unfortunately closed maybe two years ago? And so the only Lupicia outlet in the US seems to be in Hawaii! I really wanted some Gyokuro tea which is different from regular green tea in that it’s grown in the shade. And it tends to have a “greener” taste.

And yesterday, we had takeout from The Counter. I got a build your own and added lots of vegetables including roasted red peppers and spring mix.

Currently…

Reading:

Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline

Watching:

Game of Thrones

Also, the Great British Bake Off!

Listening:

I just finished The Woman in White yesterday, so I haven’t figured out what’s next. Another classic perhaps?

Eating:

Had some baguette for breakfast

Drinking:

Oolong tea

Cooking:

Picked up some lamb loin chops so I’ll probably cook that with some baby potatoes and whatever vegetable I pick up later this week.

We were left with one more sheet of puff pastry and I want to use that to make a Guinness pie

Last week:

I read:

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Dim Sum of All Fears – Vivien Chien

The Wandering – Intan Paramaditha

I posted:

Library Loot (September 30 to October 6)

The Deep by Alma Katsu #ripxv

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (September 28, 2020)

It’s the last week of September! And we are in a heatwave again, hooray…

I really appreciated last week’s great air quality and cool breezes but Sunday was hot and today will be even hotter! And so will the rest of the week….

I tell you, this always happens once we actually hit autumn, the sun decides those of us in the Bay Area haven’t had enough of her power, and has to whack us with one good solid heatwave to let us know she’s in charge.

But pandemic + hot hot heat means home with the AC on, while others flock to the beaches.

I’ve been slowly introducing the kids to the Studio Ghibli movies. They’ve loved Totoro for quite a few years now and have also seen Ponyo but in recent weeks we have also watched The Cat Returns and Spirited Away. I think next weekend we will give one of my favorites, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a try. This weekend, the husband wanted to watch Long Way Up, the TV series starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman who ride motorcycles (this time, electric Harleys) around different countries. In this series they’re traveling from the bottom of South America to Los Angeles. And the crew are in electric pickup trucks.

Meanwhile, here’s what else we did last week.

On Friday, the Mister Softee truck randomly stopped outside our house. We live at the back of the neighborhood so it’s not exactly a place that would be a stop for an ice-cream truck. But it was meant to be!

I had some cod to use up and decided to make it two ways, cod chowder (which the kids wanted) and a cod and prawn stew.

Oh hey, I joined Storygraph. Are you on there? It’s intentionally un-social media-like so it’s not the easiest to find out who’s following you. Please let me know what your username is. Mine is RealLifeReading.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

Game of Thrones

And also the latest season of the Great British Bake-off! It was so interesting reading of how everyone on it had to quarantine to form a GBBO bubble and take 3 COVID-19 tests before they could start.

Listening:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Eating:

 A slice of homemade Lemon Bliss Cake (recipe from King Arthur Flour) made with homegrown Meyer lemons.

Drinking:

Assam Calcutta Auction tea from Lupicia

Cooking:

I haven’t a clue! Although I was craving for some Hawaiian-style macaroni salad a couple of days ago… and it’s such a hot week too, so that’s a perfect one to make.

Last week:

I read:

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir

I posted:

Strawberry ice-cream #weekendcooking

Recent reads: There’s Someone Inside Your House; Sex and Vanity

Library Loot (September 23 to 29)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (September 21, 2020)

It’s Monday, again! How was your weekend? We actually had good air quality for a few days so it was nice to take walks, let the boys go to the park for a bit, get some fresh air. But today, the air quality is back in the not-so-good range again. Here’s hoping it will clear up again!

I did some baking on Thursday, churning out my favourite walnut bread (recipe from King Arthur Flour) as well as some scones (my favourite recipe is from The Baking Bible and they are the most buttery scones ever).

We got flu shots over the weekend!

Had a hankering for laksa over the weekend. Luckily had some of the ingredients and the laksa paste!

We had Korean fried chicken from Bonchon – half spicy, half soy garlic. Wasn’t very good, sadly.

Currently…

Reading:

The Deep – Alma Katsu

Watching:

We recently got HBO Max after switching to AT&T and that means I finally get to watch Game of Thrones.

Listening:

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Eating:

Had homemade walnut bread for breakfast

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

The 7yo told me last night, “we haven’t had Japanese curry for a long time!” So Japanese curry it is.

Also I feel like having pad thai so will try to make some later this week.

Last week:

I read:

Dirt by Bill Buford (see below for link to my review)

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (thoughts to come)

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (I have things to say, will formulate a post!)

I posted:

(Go me! I actually had book reviews last week!)

Dirt by Bill Buford #weekendcooking

Loner by Georgina Young

Library Loot (September 16 to 22)

Gorgeous covers #TopTenTuesday

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (September 14, 2020)

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you probably will have read about the many many fires we’ve been having in western USA. At first it started with mainly the Bay Area (and luckily that huge fire  – 396,000 acres – nearest us has been contained).

But there are still very many huge wildfires in Northern California, now also in Oregon and Washington. And it’s been scary to read of the many communities that have been destroyed, the lives lost. We had that one weird Thursday of apocalyptic skies, waking up to an orange glow that never went away all day.

Lights were on all day because we couldn’t see the sun, which was blocked by both the wildfire smoke and the marine layer that trapped it. The skies haven’t been orange since then but the air quality has been horrendous. Our windows are always closed, the air filter running, but I still wake up with a scratchy throat.

Well, we didn’t do much last weekend. But the kids and I made chocolate chip cookies.

I felt like having steak and wine so we shared a ribeye (which I butter basted), also grilled some asparagus and baby potatoes.

Some spicy beef noodles we had for takeout on Saturday.

Currently…

Reading:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix

Watching:

We just got HBO Max and so I can finally watch HBO series like Westworld and Game of Thrones.

Listening:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Eating:

A slice of homemade banana cake – it’s more of a Southeast Asian style banana cake, very light

Drinking:

Assam Calcutta Auction tea from Lupicia

Cooking:

Last week:

I read:

You Brought me the Ocean – Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh

Dirt – Bill Buford

I posted:

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

Library Loot (September 9 to 15)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday (September 8, 2020)

Long weekends often throw me off. It was Labor Day yesterday in the US, so there was no school, no work, but with everything that is happening out there (pandemic, wildfires, bad air quality), we stayed at home.

But on Sunday, which was a super hot day (the temp went up at 41C!) and the kids decided it was just cooler to sleep downstairs so we “camped” in our living room together. The 7yo is a very restless sleeper though, so all his tossing and turning and kicking meant that I didn’t sleep well. But they had a great time!

I didn’t take many photos last week! But this was a mask my 9yo painted for class. They were learning about Beijing Opera.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

Listening:

Eating:

For lunch, we will be having leftovers of Indian-style pizza.

Drinking:

Lots of water! Not so hot today but it’s still hot…

Cooking:

Chicken stew or maybe Japanese curry

Last week:

I read:

Last Tang Standing – Lauren Ho

Aurora Blazing – Jessie Mihalik

You Had Me At Hola – Alexis Daria

I posted:

Plum cake#WeekendCooking

Recently read: Crime and Punishment; On The Come Up

Library Loot (September 2 to 8)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (August 31, 2020)

It’s Monday again!

The kids’ school started on Wednesday but it was minimum days (until 120), so this is going to be their first full week of school.

It’s all distance learning until who knows when – California has very specific rules about when schools can reopen, including new infections per county, and my county unfortunately is nowhere close to anything that would allow for reopening of schools.

The school has set up a comprehensive schedule, with breaks, assigned work, lunch etc all scheduled in. This is definitely so much more organised compared to the last trimester, when, well, everyone was just trying to figure out things, one of my kids only had Zoom classes 3 times a week, the other, had them almost every day, and the homework went from “there’s so much homework to do!” to “oh that’s all you have to do today?”

I’m so appreciative of all the hard work and effort the teachers have put in. Both in terms of prep work and also during class, as it must be so hard to try to keep 20+ students interested and learning during an hour-long Zoom class.

The teachers also have prepared all the materials needed – at least for the first months. And it just makes me feel more at ease, like they are going to do ok, even if school is really my kitchen table, and their classmates are all just faces on the screen staring back at them.

(I also should add, in case you’re new to my blog, my kids attend a Mandarin immersion programme in a public school. And it’s not the easiest thing to be in an immersion programme when distance learning.)

Here’s some stuff we did last week… which really wasn’t much…

The wildfires are still going on, and depending on the fog, the wind direction etc, we’ve been having air quality that’s ok one day and we can open the windows and the boys can play in the backyard, and then the next, it’s in the red again and all our windows are closed and we stay indoors.

Takeout from our favourite Pakistani-Indian restaurant. Tandoori fish, tandoori chicken, lamb curry, saag dal, mixed vegetable curry, and saag paneer.

Currently…

Reading:

You Had Me at Hola – Alexis Daria

Aurora Blazing – Jessie Mihalik

Watching:

Sugar Rush. It’s one of the few American cooking/baking reality shows I actually enjoy watching. A lot of the US shows tend to be very aggressive, and I prefer a more pleasant experience, like the Great British Bake Off (which hooray, is actually coming back for a new season!) so Sugar Rush is cute, fun, and a generally good viewing experience. Also some of those cakes…like the chandelier cakes and that amazing zombie cake!

Listening:

Eating:

I had a slice of homemade bread with some cheese for breakfast 

Drinking:

Tea with milk

Cooking:

This year, I tried growing San Marzano tomatoes (from a small plant I bought from a local ecology education site) and I’ve now got a sizeable harvest. So I was thinking of making an arrabbiata or a marinara sauce. There might be extra to freeze? I was wondering about making it thicker, like a pizza sauce. Depends on how much I have left on the plant. I haven’t checked it over the weekend.

Last week:

I read:

On The Come Up – Angie Thomas (audiobook)

If you’ve not read this one yet, I’m going to have to recommend the audiobook! It was awesome listening to the rap battles, instead of reading them. Loved it.

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (audiobook)

I posted:

Library Loot (August 26 to September 1)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (August 24, 2020)

The kids are back in school this Wednesday! Of course by school I mean that they’ll be at home, distance learning. The school district has mandated a 150 minutes of live instruction, and the teachers sent out a schedule on Friday, which shows the school day broken up into a few different Zoom sessions, with breaks in between. Hopefully it will all work out.

Meanwhile, it’s been a weird week. If you follow my blog, you may have seen my mention of the lightning storm we had – over 10,000 lightning strikes in the Bay Area in 72 hours the weekend before last, especially unusual in a place with almost no lightning at all. So what has resulted from that are several huge wildfires, so many that they are being grouped into “complexes”. The one that is closest to us is huge – it’s comprised of 20 fires and is over 335,000 acres. But there are also others north (in the  Napa/Sonoma area), and southwest (Santa Cruz), also south (Carmel area).

It’s become a habit to check Purpleair.com several times a day. The numbers keep fluctuating, and we have gone from the 50s to over 200 in just one day.

But we’ve been staying indoors, keeping our windows closed, fans on, and if it gets hot (as it has been last week), the AC comes on for a bit.

Luckily for my birthday last month, we got a Nintendo Switch fitness game called Ringfit and we’ve been using that to exercise. It’s surprisingly effective at exercising the arms (you can pull and push on the ring which holds one of the controller), legs (the other controller is strapped on your leg and quite a few of the games require squats and jogging in place as well as other types of exercise), even the abs and there are yoga poses. It’s come in handy when it’s too smoky outside.

Been a while since we’ve had pancakes! I tend to make waffles more these days since the kids prefer that.

It hasn’t been as hot as previously but still warm enough to have to turn on the ac to cool the house down in the afternoons. So I’d been reluctant to bake. But I missed the smell of fresh bread in the house. So I made the basic hearth bread from the Bread Bible, adding the overnight rise in the fridge of the dough for a better taste. Kneading the dough by hand can be quite therapeutic.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 – I’m trying to slowly watch this, so I’m also watching Midnight Diner.

Listening:

Nothing at the moment as I recently finished On the Come Up

Eating:

Leftover pancakes for breakfast

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

I picked up a nice cauliflower from the farmers market, so some kind of skillet cauliflower cheese.

Maybe a pad thai?

Last week:

I read:

On the Come Up – Angie Thomas (audiobook)

I posted:

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Library Loot (August 19 to 25)

Books that should be adapted #TopTenTuesday

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s Monday (August 17, 2020)

Hi, guess it’s Monday again, huh.

We went for more Singapore/Malaysia food on Saturday, driving up to Pleasanton just for this takeout.

We had nasi lemak, mee siam goreng, and two types of kueh (kueh Talam with red bean and Pulut Wajik, which is glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and gula melaka).

Saturday night saw an unusual occurrence – lightning and thunder! We have never seen so much lightning in all our ten years in California. Thunderstorms are a regular event in Singapore but not in CA. The kids were quite excited about it.

It set off quite a few fires unfortunately and a few traffic lights in our area were out too.

And there was rain. Actual rain in August!

Of course after that, it was back to the heatwave that we’ve been having since Friday – it’s hotter than in Singapore!

The boys had a piano recital on Sunday – over Zoom that is. And it went well

Since it was such a hot weekend, we had sushi for Sunday dinner.

Currently…

Reading:

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold

Watching:

Umbrella Academy Season 2

Listening:

Yup still this one!

Eating:

I had a toasted bagel with Laughing Cow cheese for breakfast

Drinking:

Yorkshire Gold with milk

Cooking:

Maybe some taco rice this week

I also have some fresh chowmein-style noodles to cook up, so probably a fried noodle with fish cake, vegetables

Last week:

I read:

The Unicorn Whisperer – Dana Simpson

Camping with Unicorns – Dana Simpson

Oh, Tama! – Mieko Kanai

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – Cho Nam-Joo

I posted:

Singapore-style carrot cake #WeekendCooking

Library Loot (August 12 to 18)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date