recycling, purging, reflecting

yesterday turned out to be an unexpectedly productive day. i woke up late with a massive tension headache caused by my sinuses and i thought sunday would be a repeat of saturday :: sitting on the couch and doing nothing.

but the headache medicine kicked in pretty quickly so i took some things out to the garage to put away. that, for some reason, triggered an urge to go through the junk that's piling up near the garage entrance. lately, going into the garage was like going through an obstacle course :: dodging and stepping over empty boxes, sports equipment, the drying rack, various art supplies, etc. plus, there were tons of stuff to be donated from months ago, so i pulled it all out of the garage, reorganized the sports equipment, finally decided to recycle all of the empty boxes i'd been saving for a rainy day, and went through containers and drawers i hadn't opened in a long time.

rupert took a prius-full of stuff to donate, and i set my sights on making a dent in my crafting supplies. that's going to be harder to deal with. i have no issue purging other people's stuff but when it comes to my stuff my hoarding instinct kicks in. my goal is to go through it all this summer and decide, once and for all, what i will use and what i will never use. that means i have to abandon some of my crafting ambitions and admit i'm never going to make polymer clay accents or learn how to calligraph.

let me back up a moment and talk about those boxes. i have been saving almost every single usable box i've received in the mail for the last couple of years. since i sell my crafts i kept the boxes in case i needed to ship something. the boxes piled up higher and higher, and packing materials started overflowing out of them. it was overwhelming to walk by that tower of corrugated cardboard. and guess what? i hadn't used a single box! getting rid of them was enough to clear the air in the garage to make it feel more clutter-free (that's an illusion, though; there's still much more decluttering to be done).

towards mid-afternoon, while going through a container of stuff i found old letters i'd been saving in a plastic bag. you'd think that if these memories were important enough for me to save, i wouldn't leave them in an old grocery bag buried inside a box i don't ever open. so i went through the letters, sorted them by sender and approximate date, and slid them into sheet protectors in a binder. i could just get rid of them all, but i'm a sentimental sap. how could i possibly throw out recycle love letters from rupert? or from my best friend?

skimming through some of the letters it really hit me that my world was so small back in high school. my friends and my relationship with rupert were everything to me; even the slightest disturbance in my relationship with these people was traumatic and emotionally all-consuming. seriously, judging by the letters, my life must've been d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c compared to my life now.

i do have to say, though, my generation (or was it just my friends?) were good letter writers. in this age of emails, texting, and im-ing i think the art of old fashioned note-passing and letter-writing is getting lost. we took the time to truly express ourselves in words and complete sentences. i'm glad i kept these letters because they really reveal my life and feelings when i was 17 years old; things that i've forgotten but i know helped to shape me. i'm not sure i want to share some of the letters but it's good to know i have them to read again and again as i get older and need a reminder of what it was like to be young.

so, after a jaunt down memory lane i finished up in the garage for the day and headed inside to play rock band with my sister and her boyfriend (even ian joined in). after that i managed to make a quick layout, which i hadn't done in months. so i think i ended up using all of my productivity for awhile!

what i made for dinner :: spinach + brie chicken with tomato orzo

spinach + brie chicken with tomato orzo

seems like i haven't cooked in forever ... what the heck have we been eating for dinner lately??

while cleaning out some old emails i came across one from martha stewart with 30-minute recipes. wouldn't hurt to give it a try; it sounds tasty and easy enough :: spinach + brie chicken with tomato orzo.

instead of chicken breast i used skinless chicken thighs because we like the juicier meat. i didn't have dijon mustard so i made a 1:1 mixture of regular yellow mustard and mayonnaise, but we couldn't taste it at all in the dish. maybe next time i'll get some dijon or, my favorite, grainy mustard.

handling the brie was the tricky part. as per someone's comments on the recipe, i put the brie in the freezer for a bit, but it could've been kept in longer. i didn't use dental floss to cut it, but a regular cheese knife, which was fine until the brie started to warm up and got kinda gooey on the cutting board. i also used toothpicks to keep the chicken rolls together. i didn't heed the warning to soak the toothpicks beforehand, so i cut them down as close to the meat as possible so they wouldn't catch fire under the broiler.

cooking time was about seven minutes but you should check it periodically. some of the chicken pieces that were close to the flame started to burn part way through so i turned the baking sheet. i even lowered the rack to the middle of the oven about five minutes into the broiling.

no suprise that ian did not like it much; he's not a fan of tomatoes or spinach. the orzo side dish can easily be altered to include a different vegetable (i'm thinking about using blanched asparagus next time, which i know ian will eat). the chicken reminded me of a chicken florentine dish i used to make in college, which was time-consuming and more labor-intensive. this one is simple and easy to make, but because everything cooks quickly, active time is about 20-25 minutes.

i {heart} nyc

i spent my first three semesters of college in nyc at barnard college. and for someone who spent that much time in the city, i really do not know it that well. that's because i didn't take advantage of everything it has to offer. what a mistake! i think i missed rupert so much that i was blind to what was around me. now i miss it a lot, especially since one of my best friends lives there, and i wish i could visit more often.

sadly, last summer's trip with the kids was my first time back in nine years. but luckily, rupert and i had the chance to go again to attend his cousin's wedding. my mother was nice (and courageous) enough to watch the kids for three days so that we could get away for the weekend.

me + A

and what a weekend it was, jampacked with activities and seeing people. we flew in on a red-eye so we got into manhattan around 7:30 on saturday morning. we checked in, took a quick shower, and we were off to meet a friend of mine from my morgan stanley days in tokyo. after coffee and catching up, rupert and i had to dash off to c-town for dim sum with my best friend K and our other college friend HJ, who i hadn't seen in 10 years.

HJ still on the phone

after dumplings and boba tea, we drove up to barnard and columbia. it was a mini-reunion of sorts for us since it's been 10 years since graduation and none of us had really visited campus. the old student center, mcintosh, was demolished and a new gigantic building is going up in its place. i have so many memories of hanging out in mcintosh that i'm pretty sad it's gone.

mcintosh is gone!


then we (minus HJ) headed to the met. oh my god -- suggested admission is really expensive now! i remember when we were students we'd just drop in and not pay anything at all. just like old times we headed to the arms and armor exhibit first, then wandered over to the temple of dendur where we realized it had started pouring outside.


it was a good thing we decided to forego the vampire weekend concert in central park that afternoon. from the museum window we could see tons of concert-goers wandering around in the downpour. after awhile rupert and i managed to make a dash to the subway station when the rain let up for a few minutes, just in time to get ready for the rehearsal dinner in times square.
the next morning was father's day so we tried to get up as early as possible to spend time with rupert's dad. we had breakfast, took the train to columbus circle, and then walked through central park (sometimes in the rain) to zabar's. we didn't have much time to explore since we had to get back for the wedding.
they're married!
luckily the weather cleared up and we walked the block from the hotel to the prince george ballroom. it's a great venue with a gallery-like entrance area and a wonderful, grand ballroom where the ceremony and reception were held. it was a fun reception and the food was pretty darn good. rupert's cousin S and her husband E looked absolutely ecstatic -- congrats!
the prince george ballroom
and that was our entire weekend. we flew back the following morning and arrived in time to pick up maya at my mom's and then swing by to pick ian up at school. sometimes rupert-and-me-happiness is fleeting.
[more pictures here.]

what we'll be doing this summer

what we'll be doing this summer

after much back-and-forth, i convinced rupert to buy rock band for the wii. the morning it went on sale, i think our conversation went something like this ::

r :: i don't know if we should get it.
y :: we're going to get it.
r :: okay.
seriously, though, we did have to think about it because there are so many games we want to get. sadly, our family spends most of its free time playing video games and, therefore, our wish list of purchases only includes video games. rupert spends some of his free time "researching" upcoming games, and we debated for awhile whether to get rock band or wait for guitar hero IV - world tour to come out in the fall.

anyhoo, we decided that rock band will be an early anniversary and birthday present -- and we won't go out for our anniversary -- since it's a big purchase for us. hopefully, i'll get birthday money to offset some of the $180 it cost to buy it.

and now that we have it, there are a few things that are bothersome (we did know this stuff going in to the purchase but that didn't stop us from getting annoyed) ::
  • it's fun, but it's not as cool as the xbox version :: you can't create the members of your band; you can't go on tour; and you can't download new songs (you can, though, buy an expansion game with 20 songs).
  • dang! the drum set takes up a lot of room!
  • i cannot get used to the guitar buttons' stickiness. i'm still used to the guitar hero guitar with its clickity-clackness, so i can't seem to get the hang of strumming the rock band hero repeatedly.
  • banging on the drums is loud, which is a problem when you have a light sleeper (i.e., maya) sleeping in the next room. luckily, rupert's co-worker's huband is going to make us felt pads for them.
we're now splitting our time between rock band, lego indiana jones, playground, and boom blox. that is, until we get wii fit, mario kart, super smash brothers, house of the dead 2 & 3, resident evil 4, lego batman, star wars: the force unleashed, and order up! (or maybe we'll get iron chef america if it looks like it'll be any good). yeah, we're going to be busy through the end of the year.
he's actually a pretty good drummer


writer's block

i'm in a bit of an emotional funk -- maybe due to the heat, maybe due to hormones, maybe due to summer vacation starting -- so i don't feel like writing much. i'll be back soon. posts in the works :: nyc weekend, new wii games, parenting.


great commencement speech

MG at momentarybliss posted j.k. rowling's commencement speech at harvard this year. i've posted before that i don't remember a single thing about the commencement speech from my own graduation 10 years ago(!), but had it been this speech i probably would've remembered it.


i guess i'm officially a runner now

the 10-week fitness challenge is long over but i've been trying to keep up with some kind of fitness regimen. i'm not going to the gym everyday like i used to but i've been a regular jogger for a few months now. the extra cardio activity is helping me keep the weight off, but not necessarily losing additional weight (i blame overeating).

jogging is not fun. in fact, i'm not even sure i like it. the only thing that keeps me going is that i'm simply impressed with myself for moving forward constantly for an extended period of time. i try to run three to five times a week; between a mile or two most days and a long run (three to four miles) on the weekend. it's not very far -- yet -- but i'm working my way up.

when i started running i made it my goal to complete a 5k before the end of the year. i managed to accomplish that goal by mid-year :: yesterday i ran the hawthorne 5k with my step-sis and a couple of friends.

before the race

my time was a decent (for me) 33:23. i came in 131st out of 644 runners. not too shabby for my first 5k. and i have to say that i'm pretty proud for finishing it without stopping, and actually working towards a goal, and accomplishing it.

after the race

kudos to my sis, D, for coming in 3rd in our age division despite having a bad foot. she's the athletic one in our family and her encouragement really helped me these last few months. thanks also to my friend Y and her sister for participating with me; trying to catch up to them (which i never did) kept my pace faster than usual.

now, i wonder if i should challenge myself to a 10k in the fall ...


what i made for dinner :: okonomiyaki

my mother is a whiz at making okonomiyaki, a japanese savory pancake-like dish. being from the kansai region of japan, this is soul food for us, and my mother's made-from-scratch version is what i consider to be perfect okonomiyaki. my version? i make it from a mix and i cut some other corners too. guess what? it doesn't come out nearly as good as my mom's. no surprise there.

but it's still fairly tasty, especially since we smother ours in okonomiyaki sauce, doro sauce, and kewpie mayonnaise (if i'm at my mom's i also dump on the aonori). besides the chopped cabbage and green onion, i usually mix some shrimp and squid into the batter. if i feel like doing some more work, i'll also sautee diced konyaku on high heat in shoyu and sake to add to the batter. i always layer sliced pork on top after sprinkling the batter with ground pepper, msg (the horror!), tenkasu, and katsuobushi.


greening up my clean-up

i'm in a slightly panicked mode at the moment. my aunt (my mom's older sister) is visiting from japan and i cannot have her over to visit until the house is spotless. my aunt is a traditional japanese housewife, which means my standards are waaaaaaaaaaaaay short of acceptable. even my own mother, who shakes her head in despair when she comes over to my house, was worried that my aunt would give her a hard time about the state of her house.

seriously, i was almost tempted to hire a maid service to get the house in order before my aunt's arrival. almost. but i was even too lazy to do that.

instead, this was the perfect opportunity to get started on a green, deep clean. i ordered green up your cleanup by jill schoff and went scampering around town gathering up the materials needed to make my new cleaning agents. this is a fantastic book and i highly recommend it, even if you haven't been thinking about greening up your cleaning routine; it'll make you rethink what you're doing to your house and your body, and then give you easy alternatives. i also had my aunt bring me a japanese book about cleaning with vinegar and baking soda. i'm really hoping that with these two books i can get rid of all the toxic chemicals that purport to clean my house, and rely on more natural methods.

i'll let you know how it goes ... i've only just begun to clean the bathroom ::

baking soda scrub :: i used this to clean the hard-water spots on the glass tub doors
2 tablespoons baking soda
liquid castile soap (i used
dr. bronner's peppermint liquid soap i bought at tj's)

i put the baking soda in an old plastic reusable container, added a couple squirts of the soap, and mixed it until it became a foamy paste. i scrubbed it on the glass with a brush and left it for about 15 minutes, at which point the doors got a squirt of vinegar water before a rinse with the shower.

love this stuff. it smells good and it actually works. the hard-water spots on our glass doors are really bad but i managed to get most of it off. to do a comparison test i left the bottom half of the door untouched and there was quite a difference.

31 months.

maya @ 31 months :: june 4, 2008

  • i got around to starting her on pull-up diapers. she opted for dora ones rather than disney princess ones ... thank god! but we aren't having much luck with getting her to go shishi on the potty very often.
  • finally interested in the names of various shapes, and when she feels like it she gets her colors right. numbers and the alphabet aren't really coming along, but she did show some interest in the hiragana book i checked out for her at the library.
  • it's happening ... the dreaded, incessant "why?"s and "what's that?"s.
  • she is one bossy little lady. i will often find her talking to her little friends by literally wagging her finger at them and commanding them to do as she says.
  • picking up new phrases like "calm down!" and "whoa! that messy! (in regards to her own mess in the living room that's been there all day)".
  • one of her new favorite toys is the toy cash register and the pretend money in it.
  • was actually quite well-behaved on our plane trip to milwaukee. it probably helped that she had her own seat and we replaced our aging portable dvd player. and much to rupert's delight, she called the photo of matthew fox on the cover of the inflight magazine, "daddy."
  • she says, "c'mon! c'mon!" to get her unchi to come out.
  • if i give her a 1-2-3 warning to do something, she usually does.
  • she locked the bathroom door ... and shut it behind her.
  • she now answers "two-half" when people ask her how old she is.