Trader Joe’s Fireworks

Poprocks and chocolate!
Fireworks
So good and fun to eat. They crackle in my mouth. Unfortunately, I just saw there is milk in it. And funny enough, it’s not in the chocolate, but in the popping candy. Go fig. Dairy is hidden in the most unlikely places!

Spaghetti alle Spinach

This is still what I’m into more than video games. Food!  This is like spaghetti alle vongole, with spinach instead of the vongoles.

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Ingredients:

  • Pasta
  • Baby spinach – a lot. More than you think you’ll need; they wilt into nothing.
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (dried is okay)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Lemon (juice & zest)
  • Salt
  • White wine
  1. Boil the pasta with salt so it’s halfway cooked.
  2. Stir fry garlic and pepper in olive oil.  Add parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, zest, and a little wine.
  3. Add the pasta and finish cooking it in the sauce. Wilt spinach in there at the end.

It takes very little time to make and is so delicious!

We sided with Cartman’s faction

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Got the Xbox for the game Dance Central. It’s weird having a camera in the front of the living room so we have a dishrag permanently over it except when playing the game. I used to really like video games but it’s not the same anymore. I don’t have any other games for this console that I think I’d like, but it also seems like such a waste to get a console for 1 lone game. It’s weird, seems the better the consoles, the less interest I have. I used to really like PlayStation’s Final Fantasy games and Nintendo’s Super Mario. I don’t know that Xbox has any games like that that would suck me in with fun gameplay and a good story. Is there?

The Joys of Car Ownership

We took our car to the dealer for a routine oil change and they gave us, as usual, a report of the maintenance status of the car. Tires, brakes, shocks, fluids. Things of that nature. This time, they told us we needed the following work done:

  • Replace tires
  • Replace brakes
  • Replace tail lights
  • Replace shocks/suspension
  • Do a power steering fluid flush
  • Check on a leak. It could be transmission fluid or coolant.

Given the age of the car (10+ years) I was concerned that the leaking fluids could turn into something serious enough for us to consider getting a replacement car. We took the car to our local car shop to get their estimate of what needed to be done. Then I started car shopping all last week basically in anticipation of the worst. Come to find out the dealers were totally lying! (or exaggerating). Boo! I think they try to gouge me at every oil change. I used to just take their word for it and have them fix what they tell me to. Grrrr… Crooks!!

Actual work done:

  • Replace power steering return hose
  • Replace license plate light bulbs
  • Replace the cabin filter
  • Replace front brake pads
  • Replace front brake rotors

It came out to about $600 and our tires are good for another 8-12 months.

So the car is good to go! I am so relieved. But for a minute there, it was kind of fun to shop for cars online.

Week 1

This is the first week back to work after the big holiday blitz of eating, watching tv, playing games, and sleeping at all odd hours. Generally it was a glimpse into what retirement might be like in the future.

I’m a little bummed about returning to the dailiness of everything all over again. Cooking. Cleaning. Getting up early. But also a little relieved to go back to my routines. They’re familiar, they’re comfortable, and I sleep better this way.

Over the holiday break, I ate a lot of meals out and had a good amount of dairy. Surprisingly, eating them wasn’t like some big momentous ahhhhh-angel’s-descended-I’ve-missed-you-all-so-much event. It’s like returning to your childhood home and realizing it’s not as big as you remembered. They were good though. Anyway, I did notice after eating dairy, that it definitely clogs me up. Not to the extent of constipated but I went from going 2x to 3x a day to 1x a day! Yes folks we’re talking about bowel movements (just send me to the retirement home now). And I used to think 1x a day was great but folks, it’s nice to feel cleared out at all times of the day. Like a laxative commercial all day! ALL DAY! You’re welcome.

Stuff I would like to do this year

My goal for 2014 to not shop too much was an ongoing project. I took it a month at a time and for the most part, I was fine. Probably the most shopping was during travel or vacation and also the last few months of the year, I gave in. On the bright side, I think overall I didn’t bring in as many things into the house during the year. The biggest was the mattress. But that was a net zero gain since we tossed the old one. And I donated more clothes this year than I purchased so even though I don’t feel it in the closet space department, I’m sure I have more available space. I must!

Not shopping for stuff is a good habit to get into, especially when space is somewhat limited. It’s not so bad for the bank either. Although it’s something I need to be mindful of in general, it does not really translate into a productive/helpful resolution. If anything, it tempted me more.

Ok, so instead of resolutions, I’m going for a list of stuff that I think would be nice to do this year.

1. Get a dog.
2. Get a cat.
3. Get a dog and a cat.
4. Get two cats.
5. Get more hermit crabs.
6. Massage my face (whenever I think to do it). It feels very nice.
7. Maybe get a replacement car soon. Our current car is leaking some kind of fluid which can be $700 to fix if it’s coolant, or it can be $3000 if it’s the transmission. It also needs some regular maintenance stuff like new tires, brakes, lights, fluid flushes, shocks and suspension, etc. all of which could add up to a totaled car.
8. Take a trip.
9. Finish that scarf I’ve been knitting since 2007(?). This might be a stretch goal.
10. Read more awesome books. This kind of goes without saying since my commute is long, but 10 in a list is a nice round number.

Happy 2015!

I didn’t quite get to everything on my 2014 list last year.  For instance, I didn’t get a puppy. Also, I wasn’t particularly mindful either. It’s hard to be mindful of every moment of Grey’s Anatomy while watching it the second time around.

Today, we spent the day at the Eden Center. There is a new giganto Asian market there called Good Fortune. It’s pretty large and has a nice selection of produce so I went to town there grabbing way too many items. It was actually a bit overwhelming. Our fridge is bursting at the seams.

Then we ate at Viet Royale since there was a line at Huong Viet and Rice Paper. It turns out we like Viet Royale a lot (more vegetarian options). Viet Royale

Then we got a bunch of tofu and some soymilk at Thanh Son Tofu.

And then we came home and I napped to the Winter Classic on TV. The Capitals won.

And that is how 2015 started for us.

2014, in summary

The Year of the Horse. Now I’m going to say something clever like, “Boy, did the year just gallop right on by.” Cheese.

I did some pretty important things this year and some not so memorable things too. In no particular order (just as they pop into my head):

I hung twinkly lights in our living room. They are twinkling right now as a matter of fact.

I moved teams to improve my work situation. I like my colleagues and I’m very grateful for this job. I know! Not only am I not complaining about work, I even think it’s okay! Winning.

And since a long commute gives me nothing but time to sleep, ponder on peoples’ fashion choices, and read, I read a bunch of books. I don’t remember them all. But I think my favorite for the year is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It may be my favorite Austen novel I’ve read thus far. I fell in love with Anne Elliot. I’m naming my future kid Anne or Jane if it’s a girl and/or Elliot or Austen if it’s a boy. Anne’s so steady, kindhearted, and astute yet generous with her regard of people. Sigh. I have a crush on Anne Elliot.

The most influential book I read this year was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. Let’s just say, I don’t make it a point to eat animals anymore. I like meat. I like animals. It’s a choice every meal.

We went to a few places.

  • Baltimore, MD for a day trip to Woodberry Kitchen, the Harbor, and a local museum.
  • Lancaster, PA for an old-people frolicking good time. I love B&B’s and a show and dinner. I would definitely do this again!
  • Outer Banks, NC for a week at the beach. For someone who’s not generally a fan of the beach, I went to the beach every day and I had a good time. Whaddya know?
  • New York, NY which is still  a hit or miss food place for me.  Consistently inconsistent.
  • Quebec City, Quebec Canada for a week of eating and exploration. And lo, coincidentally it was Gay Pride week. Food and entertainment! And they really do speak French!
  • Ocean City: Surprise! Outback Steakhouse has vegan options.

I find I enjoy a few local trips peppered throughout the year. It gives me more things to look forward to. On the other hand, a big trip somewhere that involves overnight stays are more memorable. Surprisingly, shopping excursions are forgettable even though I enjoy them in the moment. In fact, they’re so forgettable, by the time I get home, I generally don’t remember what I’ve gotten most of the time. So I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to do to be present but I do like it.

Gina’s aged into the most affectionate chinchilla since we’ve known her. I think partly it’s due to not having Marco around, so she seeks our attention more for socializing. And partly it’s because we’re not as restrictive about the treats now that she’s older. We bribe her with abandon to come to us.

Holiday Food Week

Not in any particular order.

  • Tasty Garden: Cantonese.  Good duck (so I heard).  Great noodles and chow foon dishes.  Nice vegetable dishes (not overly greasy/salty).  We ate here twice.  I’d come back again.
  • Tortacos: Mexican.  Food-truck-style.  I wouldn’t mind coming back here but more than likely will not.
  • Korean Deli (Myung Ga Gim Bap): Korean.  It’s alright.  I don’t plan on coming back.  Service is very friendly though.
  • Taipei Cafe: Taiwanese.  Some dishes are better than others.  For the good dishes like rice noodle soup or oyster pancakes it would be worth coming back.  For me, there aren’t many meat-free dishes so I could take it or leave it.
  • Willow: American.  They do a good job of their dishes.  This place is reliably and consistently good.  Would be nice if they had dairy-free options.
  • Kotobuki: Japanese.  I like their hotpot rice bowls (kamameshi) that I don’t find easily elsewhere.
  • 8407 Kitchen Bar: Farm to Table American.  We came here last year 3 times and every time was awesome.  A year later and the food’s mostly good, but not as good as I remembered it.  The lamb chops are tough.  The bathroom’s a little run down.  Like Willow, it would be nice if they offered 1 vegan option on the menu. 8407 Kitchen BarIt just doesn’t have that something that makes me rushing to go back like last year.
  • Woodberry Kitchen: Farm to Table American.  WoodberryLove the brunch, but the location is out of the way.  I’d eat here more frequently if I lived closer.
  • Sardi’s: Peruvian (Chicken).  Even better than the old faves Crisp & Juicy or Pollo Rico.  Lots of side dish options.  Delicious yuca fries.  I wouldn’t mind coming back here at all.

I made it!

I’ve made it through the dark winter days. I know it’s just the beginning of Winter today but that’s okay because the days are going to get longer now. All is well again! And the twinkle lights helped a lot. That’s why there are so many multicultural holidays with lights themes in the winter. They really helped me get through the darkness.