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

badge
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)

badge
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)

badge
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)

badge
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

badge
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)

badge
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 10, 2020)

Good Monday to you. How was your weekend?

We had a rather busy one, with Magikarp Community Day on Pokemon Go on Saturday, the reverse readathon (which started 5pm Friday PST instead of Saturday 5am) as well as a National Day-in-Place, organised by a Singapore group here in the Bay Area.

National Day (August 9) commemorates Singapore’s independence from Malaysia in 1965. In Singapore, this means a huge parade, complete with flypasts, gun salutes, lots of military-related demonstrations, also performances and fireworks. The photos above were taken in during our visit back in 2018 – this was one of several rehearsal performances which come complete with fireworks and also allow for more people to watch – if I’m not wrong every year primary school students of a particular grade get to attend a rehearsal.

In the Bay Area, a party with food and games usually is held, usually at a hotel somewhere, with a few hundred people in attendance.

This year, of course, things were different. Instead of the in-person party, it was a virtual one. But the organisers had arranged for some Singaporean/Malaysian eateries and coordinated with a grocery delivery service so that we could order what we wanted and have it sent to our house. And there was also a Zoom party too.

The food was delicious!

We had satay (came with all the works – ketupat or rice cake, peanut dipping sauce, onions and cucumbers), nonya kueh (steamed desserts), Hokkien mee, ngoh hiang (shrimp, carrots, chestnuts wrapped in tofu skin, steamed, then fried till the skin is crispy). They even threw in some freebies like tote bags and face masks.

Currently…

Reading:

Oh, Tama! – Mieko Kanai

Watching:

Midnight Diner on Netflix

Listening:

I haven’t been doing much audiobook listening lately, so I’m still on this one!

Eating:

I had a toasted bagel with butter for breakfast

 

Drinking:

Coffee – haven’t been sleeping well lately! Maybe it’s been too hot…

Cooking:

The husband wants mushroom pasta tonight. Maybe I’ll add in some bacon. And some skillet cauliflower cheese on the side for vegetables.

Last week:

I read:

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass – Mariko Tamaki

Pizza Girl – Jean Kyoung Frazier

10 Things I Hate About Pinky – Sandhya Menon

I posted:

Library Loot (August 5 to August 11)

Colourful titles #TopTenTuesday

badge
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 3)

It’s August already! And the kids will be back in school at the end of the month. How the summer has flown by. Of course, if we weren’t in a pandemic, we would still be vacationing in Singapore, eating all that yummy food, sweating in the heat and humidity, spending time with family we haven’t seen since last year…oh well…

Nasi Lemak

Perhaps to make up for that, we decided to try out a new-to-us Malaysian eatery. Well it’s not entirely new to us, but an “express” version of the sit-down Malaysian restaurant we’ve been to a few times. This branch only has a few meal choices, rice dishes and noodle dishes, not the big dishes served family-style that the sit-down restaurant has.

We went with:

Hainanese chicken rice, Nasi Lemak (coconut rice with beef rendang or a stewed beef with spices), Seafood Kari Mee (a spicy coconut milk broth with noodles, seafood, vegetables). 

Unfortunately, the chicken rice wasn’t very good. The rice wasn’t flavourful enough, and it was too wet. Disappointing! The Seafood Kari Mee was chockfull of ingredients but needed more coconut milk. The Nasi Lemak was probably the most tasty and authentic. 

Cocaine chicken bowl – a bit messy since I slid it from the takeout box into my bowl

Another new place we tried sells rice bowls and wraps but with a Korean twist – not the bulgogi taco route but they had things like meatloaf wraps served with either egg fried rice or kimchi fried rice and macaroni salad (all inside the wrap). 

I especially liked their “cocaine chicken bowl” which reminded me a bit of sweet and sour pork, full of little crispy nuggets of chicken that are coated in a spicy sauce.

Lovely and empty. Also cold.

Other than all this eating, we took a day trip to the beach, for a change of scenery, a chance to take a breather and do something different.

It’s about an hour plus drive to Pescadero beach, the tide was high, the pelicans flying, the wind gusting at us. The beach, this being Northern California after all, had lots of kelp and mussel shells. The seagulls kept pecking at things in the sand as the waves pulled back from the shore. 

We enjoyed some homemade sushi by the beach. 

It was cold and gusty in the morning, but as we drove further south to Davenport and Santa Cruz, the sun was out – NorCal microclimates! – the sea was a glorious azure, sparkling in the sun.

And there was Shark Fin Cove, the beach requiring quite a hike down a steep path, but from where we were we could see quite a few people in this small beach… not ideal…luckily the kids had had their beach fun earlier (on the cold Pescadero coast), digging in the sand and finding shells and stones, that they were fine not going down to this busy beach.

In these strange times, we wore masks when there were people around (some parts of the beach were empty, thankfully), made sure to bring a small bottle of soap and some water to wash our hands with (the beaches have vault toilets – ie no running water). 

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

Umbrella Academy. 

Listening:

Eating:

I had homemade walnut bread for breakfast

Drinking:

Tea with milk

Cooking:

We still have some hotpot soup leftover from Saturday. 

I was thinking of cooking gyudon, a Japanese-style beef bowl

Last week:

I read:

Ghosts of Greenglass House – Kate Milford

Shuri Vol 1 – Nnedi Okorafor

Beach Read – Emily Henry

I posted:

Library Loot (July 20 to August 4)

badge
 
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 (July 27)

We had a busy Pokemon Go weekend as it was Go Fest, which is usually held in a particular city and thus would require airfare/hotel etc. But this year, because of the pandemic, Niantic decided it would be a so-called global event, one you could play from home.

I had no idea one sunflower plant could have so many flowers!

A new-to-me plant – San Marzano tomato. I’ve usually planted cherry tomatoes.

The photo below is of hyssop anise.

We hit a couple of parks over the weekend and this one was nice and empty. We were a bit uncomfortable at the main park, which is pretty and has a huge lake to walk around, as there were quite a few people there didn’t wear masks. And also there was one family who had their masks around their chins. I mean what’s the point of that? There are signs around the park that say face coverings are required. We have mainly been sticking to walks around our neighborhood and to our nearest two parks (one walkable, the other bikeable) and there, most of the people wear masks.

Finally made some masks for the husband and myself. I had made some for the kids earlier too.

Currently…

Reading:

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga #1) – Lois McMaster Bujold

Watching:

The Umbrella Academy Season 1

Listening:

On the Come Up – Angie Thomas

Eating:

Drinking:

Coffee – I woke up before 5 this morning…

Cooking:

Last week:

I read:

Ghosts of Greenglass House – Kate Milford

Frost Burned – Patricia Briggs

I posted:

badge
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 (July 20, 2020)

I feel like we are speeding through July!

Here’s what we did last week…

I made Lemon Bliss Cake and chocolate chip doughnuts

The kids had a playdate with friends in the neighbouring park. It’s how birthdays are celebrated these days! A few hours spent outdoors, masks on, scootering, biking, snacking, climbing trees, playing with frisbees and stomp rockets

Currently…

Reading:

I feel like I’m reading more again!

.jpg

Heart Berries – Terese Marie Mailhot

Watching:

J-Style Trip on Netflix – Taiwanese singer Jay Chou and his magician buddies travel the world. The kids love watching this, surprisingly, despite it all being in Mandarin.

Listening:

onthecomeup

I just downloaded the audiobook of On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Eating:

For lunch, leftover paneer masala pizza!

Drinking:

Coffee

Cooking:

Maybe some Mac and cheese because we could all use some comfort food.

Claypot rice too!

Last week:

I read:

noughts&crosses

Fence Vol 1, 2, 3 – C.S. Pacat

The Old Guard Book 1 – Greg Rucka

Noughts and Crosses – Marjorie Blackman

I posted:

Library Loot (July 15 to 21)

badge
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