Flashback Friday

Friday, July 31, 2015

My family and I came to the United States in 1991. I can't recall the airplane ride, or the peanuts. Or did I have pretzels? Or maybe nothing as none of us spoke English, aside from the English my dad learned as a nurse back in Thailand.

There are three very prominent things that I do recall during those early days. We lived in an apartment closed to a school that had a little playground. On that playground was a slide that was huge to me at that time, being a little girl at that time. I remembered thinking, wow, I am so high up. I also remembered seeing a glass window for the first time. I was amazed and speechless to see a piece of clear glass to separate the interior from the outside elements. Finally, I remember seeing a bed for the first time. It had seemed so high at that time, and how weird that people would sleep on that.

I've seen a few things since then, and though I am not always as enamored by the little, simple things, here's to finding joy in the small things, the things that we see every day.


Cooking With: Spring Roll Pastry

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Growing up, my mom would spend hours and hours in the kitchen, making us all kinds of food. It was her way of showing her love, and I really appreciated it. After I got married and when I visited, my mom would make some of my favorite foods. There are too many name, but I hope to show them in this space soon.

One of my favorite dish is an appetizer and that is the egg roll. I love egg rolls, and they are best eaten when fresh. That is what my mom always said. Anytime she is cooking, she would always give us some to eat because that is the best time to enjoy them. And now, I tell Brandon that also.

Some people refer to the egg roll as the spring roll, as noted per the name of the pastry packet so you will see that used interchangeably throughout.

This dish is a bit more complicated, and takes a couple of hours between prep time and cooking time.

spring roll pastry
vermicelli noodles
ground beef
shredded cabbage
shredded carrots
egg yolk (for wrapping the spring roll pastry)
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce
fish sauce
sweet chili sauce
vegetable oil

Dethaw your pastry by letting it sit on the counter while you prep. Cook the ground beef until done. Boil some water, and take that off the heat and stick your vermicelli noodles in it. Once the noodles turn clear, they are done. Drain the noodles and mix that in with your cooked ground beef. Add in the shredded cabbage and the shredded carrots. Stir well so that you have an even composition of ingredients. Add in the eggs. I added 2 eggs. Add the hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce and fish sauce. Add as much or little as you like. I typically like to smell the bowl and use that as my guideline to whether I need more of something or not. If anything, steer on the side of less as the less gooey your filling, the easier it is to roll, and the less likely your pastry will break.

Your pastry should be thawed out now, and you can take them apart without tearing it. If the pastry starts to tear, just slowly ease inch by inch. I like to separate all the pastry first before I actually roll my egg rolls. Put a little less than a 1/4 cup filling in the middle of your pastry. Roll one corner over the filling while pulling opposite corners to meet in the middle to cover the filling from coming out. Roll through, and put some egg yolk on the last corner to seal the egg roll.

Once you have them all rolled, it's time to cook them. I boil mine in a deep pot with vegetable oil, enough so that once the egg rolls are done, they float. I don't time them but wait until they are a nice light brown color. Once cooked, dip in the sweet chili sauce, and eat.



International Rose Test Garden

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We visited the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon and it was quite the treat! The Rose Garden felt like it just kept going. There were so many beautiful roses everywhere, and in all beautiful shades. I took so many pictures of the flowers, but didn't want to bore you with all those so I just limited myself to a couple here. There is an amphitheater here. There is a nice playground for kids. There is a large field for soccer, or flag football, or whatever you need a large field for. The Garden was free. You do have to pay for parking which was plentiful. I would suggest going down close to the field for parking. At the front of the park are tennis courts, and those are all full. If you drive towards the field (at the end), you have parallel options. I'm not a very good parallel parker so I opted for a regular drive in spot. Parking is $1.60 per hour, or $4 for all day.

If you ever come to Portland, or haven't been, you must, must come here! It is absolutely gorgeous, and so beautiful here.


Eating: Baby Bananas

Little guy came down with an ear infection, and has been running a fever, and is acting totally unlike himself. But we've been taking advantage of that by doing a lot of snuggling.

I finally went to an Asian store last week, and felt so at home. I'm so excited to make some Asian food again, and experiment making others that I have not yet made. While at the Asian store, I saw some baby bananas, and I bought some. Mainly because they are so cute, and Mason-size. I love buying little things that are small because they just look so appropriate for him.


Flashback Friday

Friday, July 24, 2015

Growing up, we never had a dog, or cat. I had always wanted a dog, but money was tight, and we didn't have money to feed another mouth. The idea of a pet was also foreign to my parents. The idea that we would have an animal in the house just for the pleasure of having one was unknown to them. 

However, we did have a pet rooster once a long time ago. We didn't eventually eat this rooster. We kept this rooster solely for the pleasure of having him.

I lived in California for a period of time. We were in Fresno, living in an apartment where there was also a huge number of Hmong people living there. The manager there was Hmong as well. Behind our apartment was a canal of such width that one would not be able to cross or jump without a bridge. One day, my brother was walking along the canal when out of nowhere a rooster flew across the canal. Amazed, he took that as a sign and brought the rooster home.

From that day forth, the rooster became our pet. Since we lived in an apartment, the rooster was kept inside. We don't wear shoes inside our home, and my mom was very neat, so I don't recall the sanitation situation, but I would suspect that my mom was very busy cleaning up after this rooster. 

We loved our rooster, and was excited to have a pet, as uncommon as this was.

At some point, we moved to North Carolina, and our rooster came with us. This was a cross country trip, and the rooster rode in my dad's white van. My dad put newspaper on the van floor and the rooster took this long trip gracefully. 

Once in North Carolina, we stayed with my aunt and uncle, and they had a chicken coop and so our rooster accompanied other chickens and roosters. There were animals that would come at night and tried to find food. Sadly, one night, our rooster got scratched up pretty bad. I recall my brother washing our rooster's scratches and trying to clean him up.

At that point, he was getting old, and he was not able to heal from his wounds, and would die some short time later. We never had another pet ever again.


House Update

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our house is coming along. We drove past it, and the first floor is being put up. We met with the superintendent, and picked our colors, and went through the layout. The more that I am in the house, the more that I love it.

I'm super excited for the loft, for our master bedroom, for the skylights, for the extra window we requested, for the backyard so Mason can play, for the herb wall that I want to make, for the yard that we can have planter boxes and fruit trees. I'm just so excited!


Fun at the Library

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

After having gone to a teeny, tiny library, I was pleasantly surprised that the library here was ginormous! The children section was spectacular. There are all these mobiles that kids can play at. Mason absolutely loved touching each little thing, and the sounds that he can make by clinking things together or sliding them around. There are little seats for kids to lay on and sit on. I loved that they created this area for kids, and for me, it was a real testament that the city values kids, our future leaders!

We also went to story time and that was a lot of fun for Mason. At the very end, they bring out toys for the kids to play. I'm so glad to be finding all these little places that he can be around other infants his age.


Evening Walks

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I love, love evening walks with my two handsomes. Like talking at 11pm, there is no better time to talk then walking near dusk.

The weather around here has been spectacular. I love this city, and I love that people love to be outdoor. I can't blame them as it is too beautiful not to want to be outdoors!


Cooking With: Basil

Monday, July 20, 2015

The title is a bit misleading as there was no cooking involved. Just cutting. Last Sunday, the relief society president shared some basil from her garden. The minute I smelled the basil, I knew I had to use it in a caprese salad.

Fresh basil
Mozzarella cheese
Olive oil

I sprinkle my salt pretty liberally but sprinkle to your taste. Enjoy!


Sunday Best

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Have I mentioned that we love our new ward? It may be a bit premature, but I must say, everyone is so so nice, and so so friendly. And today, today, we received callings! After five months of no callings, we are both excited to feel like we have a purpose! I enjoy going to classes, but I love having a calling. And I didn't think I would like having church at 1pm, but I really enjoy that since we can sleep in, have brunch, and go to church afterwards. We don't get after church naps, but that is A-okay.

Anyways, MW has too cute of an outfit not to post up so I figure I should.

Happy Sunday!


Little Eyes

Thursday, July 16, 2015

He sees everything. The littlest tiny paper under the kitchen table. His little toy truck underneath the couch. The little cap bottle on the pavement. The lost pen. The little dead bug on the windowsill. The leaves moved by the wind. The little child sitting on another shopping cart.

I wish I could only know what he is thinking as he notices these things.


Ramen Afternoon

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Every once in awhile, time is short, and there is nothing fancy to eat. That's when ramen comes in. I like to add a few little items to make it a little more special. What simple things do you do to make even the most simplest thing seem just a little bit more special?


Old to New

Monday, July 13, 2015

We went to a car show a couple of weeks ago in the Tri-Cities and saw some old beauties. What is it about mixing old and new? The appeal of the rustic in conjunction with the fresh paint equates into something that we can sit back and admire. Even with decorating, reclaimed is put back into use. At some point, we have forgotten that what we threw away still has life, and some receive that gift again for us to admire. Others get tossed aside, forgotten, and amassed into the landfill. 

Around these corners, we are trying to use less, use old. Before you toss things aside, consider if it can be recycled, reuse or given away to someone who could use it.

Happy Monday!


On Water Birth

Friday, July 10, 2015

Child birth is no light activity. It's one of the hardest thing that you'll ever physically have to do. I had not known much about water birthing, and it was quite a coincidence that I had spoken with a particular friend about her experience, and she mentioned it, and I thought, oh that is intriguing. I was planning for a natural child birth with no real action plan of what will happen on go-day; and you know what they say about failure to plan (planning to fail). So when I started talking to my friend, it hit me that the water birth would be an excellent alternative to the epidural. She also told me about the hospital she gave birth at, North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia. I had never heard of this hospital and it was also a lot further then the hospital that I had originally planned to give birth at. 

I went on their website, and on their maternity services page, they mentioned natural childbirth and water birth. That for me was a real testament of their viewpoint on child birthing. You see, I had asked my original OB/GYN how long they would let me labor for before they would have to give me the epidural. She told me that they would give me 6 hours. I was flabbergasted, and nervous! I never hear about women giving birth in less then 6 hours. My friend labored for 22 hours!!! And I just had a hunch that it would take me just as long, if not more. So I really feel that a good hospital with a natural focus is the beginning of a successful water birth.

After my decision to switch hospital, I also had to switch OB/GYN as they did not deliver at North Fulton. My friend really liked hers, so I switched to hers, Isis OB/GYN. I went with the midwife versus the doctor. I have read and heard that going with a midwife decreases your chances of a C-section. And although I don't have the experience of a doctor as this was my first, my midwife was superb during labor. During my labor, there was a crucial point where I broke down and I did not want to go with my birth plan. My husband, seeing me in pain, wanted me to just be okay. My midwife with her experience, knew that I would regret not going through with my water birth. She asked to see my birth plan, and she encouraged me to stay the course. Her words of encouragement gave me strength. Her time that she spent with us, and her instructions during the push session was everything that I needed during that very, very hard time. So for me, a midwife was what I needed. If you can't get a midwife, a doctor that you are comfortable with, and that understands your plan, and is willing to give you the time will also work. It took me 15-20 minutes of push time, and I labored for 16-17 hours. 

A written birth plan is super, super important. Child birth is such an experience, and you should have the right to have the experience as you wish. And if you wish to have a water birth, put that all in writing. You'll need it in your weakest moment. There will be times that you will just need the quick epidural relief, and without a birth plan, nobody will know your desires. 

If you have other family in the room, make sure they are supportive of your choice, and encouraging. My husband couldn't stand seeing me in pain, but having a good midwife will cure that.

During my push session, I could still feel the contractions. I followed my midwife's instruction, and pushed when my body told me to. In between contractions, I closed my eyes, and felt so much peace and calmness. It was the weirdest thing, but most amazing calm that I had ever felt in my whole life! Because of the water birth, I definitely felt like Mason was much calmer after birth. I also felt like my healing process was a lot better. 

With all of that being said, your baby's health is the most important thing. I had a plan, but I was ready to do whatever it took to get Mason out safely, whether that be epidermal or C-section. Thankfully, everything went as planned, and I was able to have the birth that I wanted for Mason and for myself. I believe that was all because of the planning that took place, and the experiences of the hospital and my midwife. If you are interested in a water birth, contact your hospital and talk to your OB/GYN. I had to take a class in order to be able to have a water birth, so plan in advance for that. Good luck, and if you have any other questions, please let me know! This is a huge experience, and I want you to have the best experience!


The Tri-Cities

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This past weekend, we skipped town and headed to the Tri-Cities, an area called so because of the three neighboring cities: Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. We stayed in Pasco right beside the Gesa Stadium so we can watch the fireworks. 

During the day, we went down to the Columbia River, and played in the water. Since the temperatures  rose up to 105, the water was a nice relief. There is also a water play area for kids there. We didn't see it initially but did drive past it, and it looks pretty neat. 

We drove past historic downtown Kennewick and Richland, and unfortunately, the shops seemed to have closed up for the holiday weekend. We did stop by a shop in downtown Richland that was so cute with lots of kitchen items, and I wish listed some items in my head for purchase for my new kitchen. 

We found a yummy Indian restaurant one night and ate there. It was delicious, and made me miss Atlanta wildly. On July 4th, we did go to Texas Roadhouse. Brandon has never been there, and I felt it was appropriate for Independence Day. Brandon went with ribs, and I went with salmon. Full and happy, we headed back for fireworks from our hotel room.

Halfway through the week!


Sidewalk Chalk

Monday, July 6, 2015

These sidewalk chalks were left at our place, and on a particularly cooler day (we are up in the 100s these days), we went outside to practice a little artwork on the back patio. Our artwork and fun was simple. A few circles here, a few triangles there. Nothing fancy.

We have found ourselves a temporary home. A tiny place, but a place that will fit our needs. A place with quite a bit of light. A place that won't make me sad that I will have moved three times this year already. A place with a back patio that we can continue to do some artwork on. 


Fort Vancouver

Sunday, July 5, 2015

While driving around trying to find where we were supposed to be going, we drove past these beautiful old homes that lined the old military housing. These homes have long since been turned into  businesses - psychiatrist office, dentist office, restaurant, and the likes. There was one home that was a private residence. Lucky! We walked around Fort Vancouver, and imagined what it was like when it was first built, and all those who lived in it. I imagined soldiers doing their morning work outs, sitting on the grass enjoying their lunch, dancing in the auditorium, buying cigarettes at the shop. It would be so cool to get a glimpse of what the ordinary day was like back then.

We hope you had a good July 4th weekend!


Flashback Friday

Friday, July 3, 2015

In middle school, we lived in a house that was beside a large red brick building. The building sat back further from the street then our house, and in our yard, we would spend all afternoon and evening kicking the ball against the brick wall. Oh how nice that yard was!

It was flat, and we would play long, Sunday games of kickball. There was enough room for three bases, and we would play until the sun was too tired. And soccer. That was very big in our family growing up, so we would split up the kids, and play soccer. I learned how to properly kick the ball, although truth be told, I still haven't fully mastered the kick. Out there, I learned about people like Pele and Romario. 

There was honeysuckles that lined the end of our yard, and when they started popping out, my cousin and I would spend time tasting the sweetness they gave so freely. In that yard, we also had blackberries. There weren't a lot, and we cleaned them out way before they could be ripe enough.

Oh how I loved that backyard, and all the memories that were made in that backyard. Our current yard is quite a beauty too, and the land beside us currently houses two hungry calves that we visit on our way to the mailbox.

We hope you are having a good Fourth of July!


Early Morning

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The days here start really, really early. The sun is up before 5am. Around that time, Mason is usually crying out for his habitual bottle. Sometimes I get that for him. Sometimes Brandon does. Sometimes I sleep through it all, and wake up when Mason does. Sometimes I get up instead. Our current living situation is so that we have taken up two rooms with a jack and jill bathroom. If I decide to get up instead, I tip toe over to the other room, and leave the doors ajar because sometimes we put him in our bed for his first bottle of the day. And nobody enjoys an early morning wakeup call of a carpeted floor.

I spend the early morning dinking on my computer, reading this and the other. And eventually, I will hear little sounds. Or little legs kicking around blankets.

I'll walk quietly over to the door so as not to alarm him. If he's not already in our bed, I'll put him in our bed. He'll want to snuggle a little, and I'll rub his back. Sometimes he grunts, and we take turns grunting for a little while. As much as I want to stay in my robe all day, and lay there with Mason, he'll eventually get tired of laying around, and I'm forced to get ready. I'll keep all the doors open so he can wonder between the two bedrooms, and the bathroom (although I leave the shower and toilet room closed as he's taken a liking to the toilet paper roll). By the time that I'm done getting ready and getting dressed, he'll be ready to go downstairs and start playing.

And so our day starts.

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