Moon Cake Day

I’m so glad it’s finally fall. Squashes. Coffee. And wine. That’s how I welcomed fall.
Today, I stood staring at all the plants I have on my balcony wondering where I’m going to put them all indoors. You might think, just put them where they were last winter. How they went out, how they come in. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. They multiply. Or propagate or whatever. I just start propagations whenever I can as insurance. Backup plants in case the mother plant kicks the bucket. Or in case anybody wants one. Or I have an empty tomato can needing to be filled with something. I’m probably going to take a few to work. It might be the best way to ensure their survival because window real estate is tight.

And also it’s mid-autumn festival. Moon cakes festival. Some moon cakes are tolerable, but for the most part, they are dense, thick, and pasty inedible things. I imagine that’s what it must taste like for kindergartners when they dig into a jar of paste.

Ready for it?

I’m so ready for fall. Sorta. I’m ready for pumpkin spice everything! But this weekend’s all day rain situation made it seem a little too right away and I’m not sure I’m that ready.
I can already feel the days getting shorter and that’s a bummer.
This unusually chilly, wet weekend, I looked at my closet of tank tops and just felt like tossing it all in a bag and stuffing it in the back of the closet, then curling up with a glass of wine and eating something with pumpkin in it. It’s too soon though. We still have plenty of 80 degree days to contend with. So maybe I’m not so ready for it.

Piano!

I always get these wild ideas in my head of dipping my toes in the art world. I bought a guitar over a decade ago. I can play 8 chords? And not even that really, since I have no sense of rhythm and can’t strum. In many ways, the guitar is both a melodic instrument as well as a percussive one. I can’t percuss. So I learned a classical guitar tune (Malaguena) and now the guitar is by the piano, currently out of tune.
I got watercolor books and paint and I do that every so often (a couple times a year?) but really, I haven’t the patience to paint. Every painting I’ve done so far has taken me all of 10 minutes? I remember taking watercolor lessons as a kid and each lesson was an hour long. Imagine it takes me 10, maybe 20 minutes. What am I supposed to do with the rest of the 40 minutes?! I just can’t stare at objects for that long!
Korg C1 Air
So on to the next new toy! It’s a digital piano. It came in a long box with a whole bunch of pieces and it had to be assembled like Ikea furniture. It plays beautifully. The keys feel like a real piano, and the sound is very pleasant. I love it and I play it every day. Haha… no. I don’t. I did for the first few weeks. But I do play it pretty regularly still. I am not a good piano player but I enjoy it and I enjoy the features of a digital and so do our neighbors, I’m sure. I can plug in a headset and only I can hear what I’m doing. It’s great, and I’m very happy I have it.

Plants at work

I used to resist bringing plants to work. I was resisting anything that would make my work space feel homey. Don’t get too comfortable, you’re not staying long. However, I’ve collected many propagation cuttings from my coworkers and even strangers I don’t work with. Imagine a rando popping her head in, admiring your plants, then asking for a clipping. Yup, I’ve done that. Most plant folks don’t mind.

I finally brought a plant in to work last year. It was doing pathetically at home and I was pretty uncertain whether it would make it through the dark winter. At the time, I didn’t have a window at work so I put it on someone else’s window ledge. He’s a plant lover too so under his care, the plant flourished.
Purple passion blooms
In fact, it bloomed. I’d never seen one of these plants bloom before so that was fun to watch. The flowers stink like feet or stinky cheese though.

After giving away cuttings to the coworkers who wanted to try growing this fuzzy plant (purple passion), I brought it home since it was finally doing well. It’s still doing great.

Recently, I got a workspace with a window and now I’m going to start bringing in some plants to work. I currently have one that belongs to someone else and another woman comes by to water it. It’s nice having it around but I think I have room for more. Lots more! Right at the top of my list are a spiderplant because my current plant finally revived this summer and gave me a couple of spiderettes, a philodendron, and a sansevieria. Perhaps a zeezee too. The spiderplant and philodendron really don’t do well in my mostly dark shoebox. Every winter, they start dying until I think they’re goners. Then spring arrives just in time for them to revive again. I’m hoping the window at work will be better homes for them. The zeezee and sanseveria are plants I’m almost always propagating. They’re such slow growers that I feel like I have to pregrow them for anyone who’s interested in taking a propagation. After one year do you see anything with the sansevieria and the zeezee takes almost two years to see something like this.
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This is actually my first zeezee propagation that I’ve seen reach this level. The rest were adopted away before they reached this stage.

Washer Dryer

After 20 years, our old stacked washer dryer gave out. The first thing I did when it broke was I called the plumber. My go-to solution. When I shared my plight with my coworkers though, they asked me why I hired a plumber. Shouldn’t you have called an appliance person? So I canceled the plumber (when I called to cancel, he then said he also wondered why we’d called them for a broken washer. Gee, thanks for telling me when I made the appointment. I guess he would’ve been happy to take our consultation money to send out a guy who would just advise us to hire an appliance guy. That’ll be $150, thanks! I think we’re gonna need a new plumbing company. Anyway, I called an appliance repair person to try and fix it but he wasn’t able to get it to work after two visits so we gave up and got a new set. My fear is, these new units aren’t made to last as long as appliances of yore. Only time will tell.
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I do really like the front load washer though. I watched it the first few runs and I feel like the clothes throwing action from raising it and dropping it cleans more effectively than swishing clothes about in a tub. And also they’re more resource efficient. And I feel like they’re gentler on my clothes. There’s less rubbing of fibers against each other. Just the falling and smacking downwards action. Also its spin dry is insane. Makes my clothes drying rack work that much faster. So overall, I highly recommend a front loading washer. This is also a 2018 purchase of the year. I can have two purchases of the year. I can do whatever I want. I’m the boss in this neighborhood. Or blog. Whatever.

Back to CA

We just got back from another visit to California as I mentioned earlier. Two visits within a year. That’s a first for me – anywhere. This second visit was to attend a wedding. By the way, my fave part of the wedding might have been the bride and groom’s choice of wedding bands. They were fashioned out of leaves from a tree in her backyard and they lasted not too long beyond the first half of the reception. For folks who aren’t jewelry wearers, it’s perfect. While there, we hit up our favorite places to eat and this time around, maybe because we’d just visited several months earlier, a lot of the places were just okay. Ippuku, I’m looking at you. And also like in the case of Chez Panisse, their vegetable entree left me still hungry. I needed more food. Cancun Taqueria was tasty and filling. I’m not sure, I think the food in the area is losing its sparkle for me. Again, maybe it’s because we had it too frequently having gone twice within a year’s time whereas before we’d only visit once every 3 years or so. So this time we ate out less frequently and made some food from the farmers market and those turned out to my favorite meals. Beans, random mushrooms we don’t get back home easily (maitake, chanterelles), fennel, dandelion, kale, fresh zucchini. Fennel grows everywhere in that region. It’s a weed! A tasty weed. Well, so’s dandelion. So my favorite place to eat there is now the farmer’s market.

Hot n’ Humid

For years my coat closet has had a mold problem. My newish L.L. Bean canvas tote grew mildewy in one year. I guess I didn’t use it as frequently as I thought I would. Darn YouTube advertising. Anyway, every time I found a mildewy item, I would clean out the closet. I’d wash everything I could and take the rest to the cleaners. I even laid down paper towels and set out plates of baking soda around the place to figure out and alleviate whatever was causing this damp, musty issue. This nonsense has been carrying on for years. I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe I put up with it for so long. I just didn’t know what to do. Hire a plumber? It was a contained issue though so I shut the closet door, out of sight, etc. This summer I found two jackets, not in the usual musty closet, but in the dressing room and they had mildew on them. They had been cleaned and not worn in too many years. I took them to the cleaners and thankfully, they cleaned them up. But this incident finally made it realize, our place is just too humid (and I have too many clothes). Two fish tanks, a steamer cooker that’s run multiple times a week, a clothes drying rack, countless plants, all while it’s August in the East Coast swamp. What did I expect?! We got a dehumidifier and if the clothes drying rack was 2017’s purchase of the year, the dehumidifier is easily the best purchase of 2018. I know 2018 isn’t over yet but still. It’s life-altering. I did a final clean and wash of our musty closet and it’s been free and clear of must ever since. I used to think dehumidifiers were for basements. Nay, they are for East Coast summers. We’ve also been much more comfortable with the lower humidity levels.

Beans!

I bought about 20 lbs of beans at a little market in California. They’re all beans I’d never heard of like Black Valentine.
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Or Snowcap.
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So far, I’ve cooked Hutterite Soup, Tiger Eye, and Flor de Mayo beans. The Hutterite is a very light white bean. It has a delicate skin so a good amount of it breaks up in the soup and makes it creamy. The Flor de Mayo has the thickest skin of the three. Almost like kidney beans. The Tiger Eye is good for it’s chewy starchy texture. Almost like a waxy New England potato. I love that sort of texture.
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Chaia

I met a friend for lunch at Chaia in Georgetown. It’s a little taco shop that sells vegetarian food. The nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which is kind of fun to go to sometimes. It’s all fancy and whatnot. The not nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which means it’s expensive and it was. Their tacos are tiny. I’ve said this before, getting full off plants requires bigger food portions. Plants are mostly low calorie density foods. Volume is necessary. I think I probably already eat bigger portions than many anyway. At least by my and many of my friends observations. I eat a lot of food to feel satiated. So $15 for lunch that felt more like a mini snack doesn’t make me want to go back. I hate leaving a meal feeling hungry and unsatisfied, regardless of price point. If you serve it up, call it a meal, it had better fill me up. Plus, I hate vegan food that’s poorly designed. Aside from the too small portions, it was basically mushrooms in a tiny corn tortilla. Zucchini in a corn tortilla. Where are my pulses? Where’s the protein? Where are the greens? And I don’t mean a few sprouts for garnish. No wonder omni’s think vegans are weird and starving. If I had that regularly, I would be! So yeah, I haven’t been eating out much lately and it’s because there’s not much out there. Portions are too small (regardless of price point). Macros are wrong. Some are chock full of processed nonsense (what the hell is chick’n?!). Eating out for me is a way to get meals that I can’t get at home. Lately, every time I eat out, I leave thinking I make better. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to my own food. And it’s just as well. The reason why a lot of restaurant food tastes better is because it’s full of salt, oil, and sugar. And while I enjoy the dishes in the moment, they make me feel like shit afterwards. And I’m usually still hungry. Actually, one little side bonus of not eating out as frequently, it’s a moneysaver. $120 per week to feed two people, which is actually probably on the high side, but if I’m not eating out, I splurge on whatever I want at the produce aisle.

So in short, I left hungry and dissatisfied and don’t plan on going back.

Not my day

Today was mostly okay until I went to go catch a bus for an appointment. (Metro is doing track work and telling everybody to stay home, go on vacay, or find another mode of transportation, which is usually unheard of since they’re hurtin’ for money, but I’m glad they’re finally giving metro’s infrastructure the much needed attention). The first bus came and drove right by me (why do they do that?!!). And in the 10 minutes I stood to wait for the next bus (thankfully it was just 10 or so mins), mosquitoes attacked me. I was bit probably close to 10 times. The saving grace, there was a torrential downpour (the kind that flip umbrellas inside out) just as I hopped onto the next bus, and by the time I got to where I was going, the rain had stopped. So maybe missing that first bus was a blessing in disguise a la that movie, Sliding Doors (where Gwyneth Paltrow misses a train in one universe and catches it in another and her life is totally different because of that train.) Not that my life was so altered. I don’t think anyway. I guess I’ll never know since I didn’t catch that bus. At any rate, I imagine I would have had to get off the bus right in the middle of the pouring rain and I would have waited at the bus shelter until the storm ebbed and not gotten attacked by the hungry mosquitoes. No biggie. Anyway, I came home and had a bowl of rice and miso paste to feel better. It’s my new favorite food lately. I wrap it in nori. It’s like omusubi without the effort of turning it into a triangle. I feel better now.