A new year

2012 is almost here. I write this on my front steps, feeling the warmth of the sun as it begins to set, and I reflect on 2011. I had so many wonderful experiences. I've traveled near and far, from camping by the California coast to wandering through the streets of China.

June 2011

I competed in my first cooking competition (I didn't win, but it was such a fun adventure) and watched one of my best friends get married.

May 2011

I went to countless concerts, singing and grooving, feeling the beat deep down in my heart.

November 2011

I hiked, biked, ran, and swam. I SUPed, climbed, camped and danced.

December 2011

It was a wonderful year, but I was knocked down in the middle of it. I was surprised at how much it crumbled my resolve and made me question what I wanted in life. I felt very alone and realized how much this loneliness made me unhappy. I realized how much I relied on certain people to make me feel fulfilled.

Over the past few months, I have been rebuilding and rediscovering myself. I have been learning how to feel fulfilled on my own. While I know that sharing experiences with someone special can be wonderful, at the same time, in the end, it's just you. I remembering when Steve Jobs died, the news would play over one of his interviews, and one statement caught my attention.

"You're born alone, you're gonna die alone... what is it exactly... that you have to lose?"

Then, a few days later, I was watching an old episode of Mad Men, and a similar quote from Don Draper caught my ear.

"You're born alone and you die alone... I'm living like there's no tomorrow."

These quotes all struck me as the truth. Being alone is a fact, there is nothing you can do about it. But how you fill those moments when you are alone is what matters. My goal for 2012 is to find peace in my time alone. To enjoy it as solitude rather than loneliness. And that's not to say I'm going to hole myself up in my house and become a loner. But for those moments that I do find myself alone, whether it's at a dinner or while I'm traveling, or when I go to bed at night, I'm going to cherish those moments as much as I cherish the ones when I am with someone.

I'll have this guy to watch my back too, to remind me of my strength and beauty.

inked 12.23.11

And now it's on to 2012. I'm feeling lighter already. Although it could be from losing a good foot of hair!


Goodbye 2011 (and the long hair that went with it)! Here's to an amazing 2012! Cheers!



For some reason today, even though the sun is shining, I have a black cloud hanging over my head.

It is quite chilly out and I'm daydreaming of warm sun and relaxation.

surf's up

time to relax

Or maybe a little swim or SUPing in the ocean...



A quiet moment sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and some cookies would be nice.

quiet mornings

Hopefully this cloud will pass. I don't want to bring it into the new year. I'll just look through my photos for some comfort in the meantime.



Family recipes

There aren't too many traditions in our family. I actually don't know much about my family history as it is something that is not brought up too frequently. I'm not sure if it's a cultural thing, but sharing stories is not something that we do too often when we get together. There are some photos from my parents' youth, but nothing older than their early twenties. And photos before that of my grandparents are pretty much non-existent.

It seems that all there really is to preserve are recipes and the stories that go with that. But while cooking is very prevalent in my family, there are no recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I decided that I wanted to start this tradition. My mother is a fantastic cook and her best dishes that she has shared with us need to be documented! My grandfather, her father, spends a lot of time in the kitchen as well. Every time we go to visit him, we are drooling over his onion pancakes and amazing bread. I wanted to learn this recipe, so this past Christmas weekend, I did.

My mother, sister and I headed down to Glennville, CA. (My father stayed home, as he was being a Scrooge, which we are all used to and are completely unaffected by.) My grandparents live on a large plot of land, which we refer to as the "ranch." I guess it is a ranch, as there are some animals and lots of fruits and veggies. But there is no one who really tends to the ranch. My grandparents used to, but as they have gotten older, there is only so much they can do.

The Ranch, painted by my aunt

Newest addition to the goat family
This guy's got a pretty mean case of bed head.

Grandma harvesting some veggies for dinner

Anyhow, I like going down there to enjoy the fresh food, clean air and starry nights. The place is quite run down though, and I am sure I would head down there more often if the house were more cozy. (The house actually belongs to my aunt and uncle, and they keep meaning to update it, but they have yet to do so.)

So, the weekend was spent with my grandfather. He is 92-years-old, but he is a spry old man. We are separated by a language barrier, and he is not that talkative to begin with. But this past weekend, as he was explaining how to make bread to me, was the most I have ever heard him talk. Even though it was in Chinese, I understood most of it. I just couldn't really ask him much since I don't speak it very well at all.

I discovered that he makes this bread every 2 weeks. He churns out 6 loaves each time. He gave me the recipe... it's 8-pages long!!! It is quite labor intensive, but it is so good. I do have to modify it a bit, but I want to stay as close to the original as possible.

8 pages of instructions on how to make Grandpa's bread


He uses cornmeal in the bread, which he grinds from dried corn that they grow. He also puts in overripe fruit from their orchard, which basically dissolves into the bread and gives it a natural sweetness.

Freshly ground cornmeal. 

I took home a loaf, which I enjoyed this morning, along with fresh eggs from the ranch. These eggs are the most heavenly eggs in the world. I have never tasted anything like it, not even from the farmer's markets around here.

Beautiful fluffy loaf of Grandpa's bread

Fresh eggs from Grandma's chickens

The color of this yolk is amazing!

Creamy creamy goodness

Yum. (And don't think I didn't eat that last bit!)

Some other photos from the ranch...

Poopy, the ranch dog

The kids playing


winter color


Happy Holidays

I waited until the last minute, and this morning, I scrambled around trying to finish some gift baskets. Dining table was a mess of treats and decorations.

After all the assembling, I delivered my gifts and headed out for one final project. I did something that I've wanted to do since high school. I'll show you soon, but not yet.

Now I'm off to catch some zzz's before heading out for the 5-hour drive to Grandma and pa's house. Here's to dreaming of some starry lights tonight! Merry Christmas!

Starry christmas


Re-entry into the food world

So my 3-day juice cleanse is coming to an end. Today was actually the worst day. My headache returned and all I wanted was food! I had to avoid looking at photos of food, and everyone at work was chomping away on something tasty. The smells were almost unbearable, they were so good. I'm quite happy to re-enter into the real food world, but this experience was a good one. I'd do it again, but probably just two days. Plus, I plan on adding some juices to my regular eating menu. This cleanse also told me to really listen to my stomach, as it is not always as hungry as I think it is. I tend to do a lot of mindless eating, so hopefully I'll be more aware of what I'm putting in my tummy.

I thought I would post the recipes I used to make the juices. With my schedule, it was easier to juice the night before, although I have read that you get more nutritional benefit if you drink right after you juice. So I lost some vitamins, ah vell.

I also thought I'd mention the cost difference. Most of the plans that deliver to your door seem to range about $75-85/day. I know you can also buy juice at the store for about $8 a pop, so that would come to about $50 a day for 6 juices.

My cost:
Breville Juicer: $132 (sale price)
Produce from Whole Foods: $50
Produce from Costco: $60

Ideally, I'd get produce from the farmer's market, but some of these fruits and veggies are not in season, and I kind of wanted to stay as close to the Blue Print Cleanse as possible. 

Costco raid

That comes to about $80/day. But this was also for 2 people, so it's actually $40/day. Labor was about the same as it would be to cook up a meal. So all in all, I think it was worth it. Plus, I still have the juicer and can now juice at will! Can't wait to try some more recipes! I'm hooked!


Green Juice
Makes about 48 oz of juice, enough for the whole day. If it's a bit short, you can add more celery or cucumber. Drink 16 oz of juice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5 large handfuls of baby spinach
6 kale leaves
2 english cucumbers
10 celery stalks
4 apples, cored (I used Fuji)
1 small piece (about 1 inch by  ½ inch) of peeled ginger
Handful of parsley
2 lemons, peeled

Why not serve the juice in something special?

Pineapple Apple Mint Juice
Recipe via shutterbean, makes 16 oz. I drank this as a morning snack.
1 bunch mint
1 apple
2 cups pineapple


Spicy Lemonade
No need for a juicer on this one. Just use your muscles and squeeze those lemons! 
1¾ cups of water
Juice from 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
1 tbsp agave nectar
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Great for an afternoon pickup. Who needs coffee?

Cashew Nut Milk
Recipe a combination of a variety found online. Need a blender for this guy. Makes 32 oz, don't drink it all at one time! I had 16 oz for an evening snack.
1½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 6-8 hours in water
3½ cups fresh water (not the water that the cashews soaked in)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave nectar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamon

Place ingredients in a blender and, well, blend. You can strain it through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth, but I just drank it straight. I needed that texture by the end of the day.

Cashew milk, not funky at all


Juice Cleansing, part deux

So it's day 2 here over at juice cleansing world, and I have to say, Ai loves it!

I was off work today and there are a lot of baked goodies taunting me in my house. I just got my package from my Food52 Secret Santa...

Luckily, no desire at all to dive in! I instead started the morning with my green juice...

Green "coffee"

Then I went for a 3-mile jog. I was a lot slower than usual, so I'm not sure if the lack of food had anything to do with it. But I still felt pretty good! I quenched my post-jog thirst with the Pineapple Apple Mint juice...

Yep, it's tasty!

Another green juice for lunch, followed by some spicy lemonade. It's brilliant, that cayenne pepper. It just woke me up and I decided to go to a yoga class. Yay me!

Now I'm sipping on my third green juice...

No alcohol on the juice cleanse!

Later tonight for dessert, the cashew milk. It is really really tasty! And super easy to make. I'll post the recipes that I used for all the juices soon. 

Now, to do some Christmas wrapping! Tomorrow will be the last day of this cleanse, and it will be interesting to see what happens when I enter back into the real food world. To be continued...


Juice Cleansing

Well, I'm not sure if Ai loves juice cleansing right now. But I decided to hop on the bandwagon and try this thing after reading about it on shutterbean. After the past few months of stuffing my face, it was time to get back on track. And rather than wait until after all the holidays were over, I decided to do this now. My body was telling me I needed it now. Hawaii in a bathing suit told me I needed it now.

Of course, I laughed at the idea of paying $75 a day for juices and decided I'd take the DIY route. I looked over the juices at BluePrintCleanse and made a similar menu. I also convinced a friend to join me and we split the cost of a juicer.

Presenting the Breville juicer, on sale at Macy's. It's a monster, at least in my kitchen with limited counter space.

Then I proceeded to Whole Foods and bought bags and bags of greens and fruits. I thought it would be enough to feed me for days, but it was barely enough to crank out enough juices for one day.

For Juice #1
Juice #2

For the PAM juice

It was quite a bit of work and the kitchen was kind of a mess. I used three different juice recipes to make three different green juices, but they all taste about the same. It's not that bad actually.

Mmm... green juice

It helped that work was really busy today so it was almost convenient to have these juices to slurp on rather than trying to cram in lunch. I actually do not feel hungry at all. Although, if I look at a photo of food, I'm instantly craving. Interesting, the power of visualization. The main issue I have now is this raging headache due to caffeine withdrawal. I even tried to cut the dose down the past few days by drinking half a cup. Hopefully, it goes away by tomorrow.

So I'm headed over to Costco now to buy these ingredients in bulk. (Buying at Whole Foods cost about $50, which was for two people, so still cheaper than buying from BPC.) Hopefully the cheapo Costco hot dogs won't get the best of me!
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