Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Featuring my favorite little spider

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm in love...

...with these sweaters from Anthropologie.

Oh Anthropologie, why do you tempt me with your oh-so-romantic yet ridiculously-over-priced clothing?

With a cold nip in the air, these sweaters are the perfect thing to keep you warm and looking cute.

Which one is your favorite?

Playing hooky

I started the morning with the best intentions so I packed my bag for the gym, intending to go the gym after work. Fastforward to the end of the day. I leave work later than I had planned and then hit the cold air, losing any motivation that I had. So it was off to the library for me. I hadn't been in months and needed to pick up my reserved copy of Part Asian - 100% Hapa. Off to the library I went and stocked up on a lot of lovely reading material.

Now I'm sitting at home trying to work up motivation to clean the house for Camie's arrival tomorrow while sitting on the sofa, blogging and watching Jon & Kate Plus 8. Somehow, I don't think anything is getting done until tomorrow when I have Andrew here to order around!

My justification for being a bum around the house is that I need to wake up early tomorrow to meet a coworker at 7 am. Yup, you guessed it: an early morning + work = another site visit. Except this time I'm heading up to Salem and Manchester, NH. And, we're stopping on the way to get work boots with steel toes and electrical hazard ratings - the only kind that will past muster with our Safety regulations on a work site.

Unfortunately, they'll look something like this:

Not exactly putting my best fashion foot forward.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

German Chocolate Birthday Cake

In honor of Andrew's Mom's birthday today, I made her favorite, German Chocolate Cake. Since I knew Andrew would be transporting the cake from my place to work to home in Plymouth, and because it gave me an excuse to use one of his birthday gifts to me, I baked it in a pan rather than going for the traditional 3-layer:

I think it came out really well. Actually, anything would taste good with that coconut/pecan topping. I recommend toasting coconut and nuts before using them in baking because it intensifies their flavors.

And as an added bonus, my coworkers got to taste it as well since I had enough leftover batter for a mini-cake.

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Part Asian - 100% Hapa

What are you? That's a question that I get asked all the time since people can obviously tell that I'm Asian but can also tell that I'm mixed.

I don't mind answering, because I'm proud to be bi-racial. My Mom's Korean and my Dad's a typical American mutt who's primarily of Sicilian and Irish descent. The only irritating thing is being mistaken as Japanese. Mind you, this is with people not knowing that I lived on Zama. I think it's my dad's pale Irish skin combined with my Mom's eyes that makes me look Japanese to people.

Anyway, what lead to this blog topic today is the notice I received by email today:

Requested Item(s) Ready for Pickup
The item that you requested is now being held for you at the library.
Bring this library card to pick up the item by the Pickup Date below.
AUTHOR: Fulbeck, Kip.
TITLE: Part Asian, 100% Hapa
CALL NO: 305.8 F95P 2006

A bi-racial coworker I was chatting with at my company's offsite had recommended the book to me. I got excited because the phrase "Hapa" is very familiar to me. Having been lucky enough to have lived in Hawaii for a couple of years during my childhood, it was common to be referred to as Hapa. In fact, it's one of my dad's favorite expressions for me and my sister. Here's the official definition for it:

The reason I like to use the word Hapa to describe myself (and Amy) is because I view it as a positive word that is diverse in background itself. It embodies the warm Hawaiian spirit (which I know sounds corny) but it's true - Hawaii itself is such a hodgepodge of people from everywhere and it's one of the few places that someone from any ethnic background is normal.

Anyway, here's the cover of the book courtesy of Amazon:

The book is filled with pictures of different Hapas and faces a page where they describe themselves (not only by ethnic heritage but also, who they are in their own words and handwriting).
I'm going to pick it up tomorrow!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gas Gauge

I've been neglecting this - I saw prices in the $2.55 range when we were in NH a week ago and my favorite Hess on the way to work is $2.59 now. Not too shabby. Although a news report said there are areas in the US that have dipped below $2. Now that, I can't fathom.

Are you a kindred spirit?

Like my GoodReads account states, my favorite books are the ones that I read as a middle schooler. I've been slowly rebuying these favorites with the excuse that I want them for my future kids, but it's really because I want to reread them.

One series I haven't gotten yet is Anne of Green Gables. I loved reading about Anne's friendship/fighting/relationship with Gilbert, her adventures in Avonlea, her fanciful thoughts and daydreaming and the use of the phrase "kindred spirit" as a way to recognnize people that you would want to be friends with.

The books I originally read had this type of cover design:

Does it bring back memories for you?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cool ATM

Apparently, Bank of America has had their new ATMs out in the market since 2006 but I just had my first experience with one today at the Natick Collection aka fancy name for a mall.

The cool thing about it is that no deposit envelopes are needed, you can just insert a check or cash directly into the ATM. It scans it, shows an image of what you deposited on the screen and then prints the image on your receipt. The ATM even automatically read the check amount from what was written on it. I'm in love with this machine, especially since it gives me confidence that there is an image and proof of what I have deposited into an ATM. Not that I've ever experienced any problems before hand, but whenever I deposited cash, I always wondered what safeguard was in place from having a teller take cash out of an envelope. Anyway, something finally good from the institution that usually is more of an inconvenience for me.

Blueberry Muffins for Breakfast

Blueberry pancakes are the norm for our weekend breakfasts.

Today, I was in the mood for something different and went with blueberry muffins instead. Yes, yes, I know they're not that different.

But they do come with a cinnamon sugar crumb topping.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Birthday Trifle

Technically, Phu's birthday was Wednesday but we celebrated his birthday yesterday.

His birthday treat was a chocolate trifle, made in the trifle glass that he and Pete got me as a gift for my birthday.

I think of trifles as the perfect dessert - they look really impressive but actually don't take too much work. I cheated by using a box mix for the cake. After slicing into one inch cubes, I alternated layers of cake, white chocolate pudding, chocolate pudding, cool whip, heath bar pieces, more cake, cherry pie filling, another layer of pudding and coolwhip and topped with mini chocolate chips and heath bar pieces.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Carbon Offsetting Chocolate

One of the presentations I watched at my company's offsite yesterday was in regards to climate change and the environment (which is actually a distinct department we have within the company). At the end of the presentation, we were handed these chocolate bars as a parting gift:

What makes this chocolate bar special is that it comes with 133 lbs of verified TerraPass carbon offsets. 133 lbs of carbon dioxide is the average American's daily carbon impact on the planet. Plus, the wrappers gives you 15 tips for reducing your carbon footprint. Pretty cool and tasty!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shipping off to Boston

PS. I forgot to mention, Camie's coming to visit for Halloween weekend! And she better come prepared with a costume for Amy's Halloween party!

Brooklyn Cabbies suck

I was in Brooklyn for a company offsite meeting. As the Brooklyn Marriott is only a few miles away from where Camie and James live, of course we made plans to meet up.

The only hitch in the evening was how hard it was to catch a cab to Camie's place. The first cabbie that drove to her place was incredibly rude. As in, I opened the door and asked if he was available. Awkward silence. I ask the question again. He asks me where I'm going. I tell him Park Slope. More awkward silence. I ask if he can take me there. Awkward silence and then a mumble. I tell him that I'm sorry that I didn't hear him but can he take me? He brusquely tells me to get in.

At the end of the evening, Camie helps me catch a cab. I get in and ask him to take me to the Brooklyn Marriott. The cabbie asks me where that is in Brooklyn. Of course I have no idea and I tell him so. He tells me he's not from Brooklyn and can't take me since he doesn't know where it is. I get out of the cab and Camie's shocked. I tell her what just happened and she immediately is pissed at the cab driver and tells me we should write down his medallion number and report him, since NYC cabs are not allowed to turn down any fares. I tell her it's not worth the effort and instead, we use a car service. I get in and we're driving down the block and the driver asks me where I'm going (this is after we told him Brooklyn Marriott, he said ok, and went to get the car). I say Brooklyn Marriott and he asks me what street it's on. I'm thinking to myself, oh lord, not again. I call Camie and luckily, she answers, can't believe that he doesn't know where the Marriott is because, as she puts it, it's the only damn hotel in Brooklyn. She is able to look up the hotel on her iPhone. I give the driver the street name and he says, "Oh, the Marriott!" I apologize, telling him that maybe I didn't pronounce it the right way, and he says no, he didn't recognize it until I said the street. Crazy.

I know cabs are the way to go in NY but I just hate taking cabs in general. Yes, they can be convenient, but I feel like you are at the cab driver's mercy in terms of how he gets you there. I also feel that 9 out of 10 are rude and distrustful, and out to squeeze as much money as possible by tacking on extra charges when they don't think you're paying attention. Don't get me wrong, I have had some excellent conversations with some very nice cab drivers, but I think they suck most of the time!

The highlight of the night, other than drunkenly sampling chocolates from The Chocolate Room, was watching poor Freddie (who's been suffering from doggie diarrhea the past couple of days) plunk his butt down on the sidewalk every couple of steps to cool it off. As seen below. And yes, that is a Pumpkin Lover shirt he's wearing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm still sooo tired...

so this will be a short post.

I got up early today (5 am) to head down to Providence for a site visit. This means I got to visit an electrical substation, view the installation of a light pole, and see two bucket trucks working on an overhead line, all while wearing the very fashionable (and safety-oriented) hard hat, reflective vest and safety goggles. My goggles were even tinted like sunglasses. I am also in the process of ordering steel-toed work boots that will allow me to safely visit electrified worksites, which is reimbursable by my company.

After I was done in Providence, I drove to New Bedford to meet up with Andrew and see his office, and then headed with him back to Plymouth to have dinner with his parents.

I just got home and I still haven't packed for my two-day offsite in Brooklyn that starts tomorrow. I need to get a decent amount of sleep sometime this week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hiking in NH, Part Two

Sunday saw us waking at the crack of dawn - 7 am which doesn't seem too early except when you take into consideration that Andrew and I didn't get home from the BC game until close to 1 am.

Rich and Amy drove over to Newton and then Rich graciously chauffered us the 1.5 hours to Meredith, NH to Mount Morgan.

Although it was technically past peak, the colors were still gorgeous on our two mile climb to the top.

Before the summit, we hit the ladder section - yes, there are ladders on the mountain!

Followed by a squeeze through a narrow crawl space (butt courtesy of Rich)

Next was a climb across a rock face on our way to Mount Morgan's summit

Finally, the top and a great view!

Time for lunch - no worries about starving with all the food we carried up and with Rich's homemade trail mix. Although a dog did run off with one of Amy's sandwiches!

Next was a half mile hike over the ridge line to Mount Percival and another great view.

One of the last stops on the Morse trail down was a charming wood bridge.

Legs and feet sore, we headed home.

Definitely Going to Japan...

...since I just bought my tickets!

I'm leaving Friday, December 5 which gets me into Japan on Saturday afternoon, facing the dreaded Narita bus to Camp Zama. More importantly, it'll have me on base with all of Sunday to shop at the Chinese Bazaar.

I leave Saturday, December 20, getting into Boston at night.

I'm really looking forward to hanging with my parents for a week, before Amy and my Uncle Rich get in on the 13th!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

View from Mount Percival, NH

Hiking for four miles is worth this view. More details to follow!

Scorpion Bowls at the Hong Kong

This weekend was a bit crazy, as you can tell from the catch-up posting I've been doing.
I've already described what we did Saturday night but I forgot to describe how we kicked off the weekend on Friday.

As a belated birthday celebration for Andrew, we let the birthday boy pick what he wanted to do.
He picked dinner at Charley's on Newbury (with the best burgers and warm, crusty bread for the table) and...

Scorpion bowls at the Hong Kong.

Amy, Phu, Jen and later, Mythri, joined us in sharing these lethal concoctions:

Several rounds of the scorpions bowl led to this:
and this:

BC vs Virginia Tech

Andrew and I froze our butts off at the BC game last night. It was an 8 p.m. kickoff and with temps in the 50s during the DAY, it was freezing at night even with a blanket. Despite the weather, it was a great game to watch, especially since BC won!

Not only was it Andrew's first BC football game, we brought two friends who are relatively new to Boston. Can you guess where they went to school? Jeanne and Mike very graciously gave up watching LSU's game (following it instead through Jeanne's iPhone).

In case you're wondering, I am wearing a green BC shirt under my fleece.

Andrew and I are also going to the last BC home game on Thanksgiving weekend - I honestly may need to resort to thermal underwear to stay warm!

And on a random sidenote, look at how orange the moon was at the game:

Birthday Breakfast

Breakfast on Saturday morning was special - I tried a new recipe for French Toast Casserole with a carmelized pecan topping :

It was the perfect combination of fluffy and crunchy.

How cute is Cody?

I received a thank you card featuring a picture of me and Cody - and he's wearing the hoodie I gave Kelli at her baby shower!

How cute is this baby?!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Andrew's Birthday Cupcakes, the explanation

I used these ingredients to turn ordinary cupcakes into boxers for Andrew's birthday.

First roadblock, I went through three cookies trying to make ears.

I ended up having to replace them with tootsie roll ears, the same material I was using for the mouth - which added another 1 hour to prep time, as I had to microwave each tootsie roll, flatten them with a rolling pin and use a template to cut out the proper shape.

Frosting the mouth got a little messy - I had to wash my hands five or six times!

Can you tell which cupcake was the first test subject and which one was the last?

This is the picture I used as inspiration.
Four hours later, there's a whole tray waiting for Andrew's attention!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Andrew!

I'm insane. I just spent the past four hours making these as a surprise for Andrew's birthday:

The crazy thing is I have to be in work at 7 am tomorrow to prepare for a conference call.

Anyway, MUCH more detail about the cupcake making process will be provided tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Andrew in the last minutes of his actual birthday - here's to celebrating it all weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bad Omen?

If you live in Boston, you know what the general atmosphere is right now with the Red Sox losing the past three games to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Apparently the Citgo sign that faces Fenway could sense the mood as it caught fire today

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gas Gauge

I spotted a bunch of places at under $3, including the lowest at $2.96.

Waxing Moon

...looked really cool tonight with the clouds. And even at 9 pm, the air was still mild enough that it felt good to be outside. It made me sorry that I didn't take a walk as I was busy visiting Kelli and Cody and then having dinner with Jen. But I'm glad I saw the moon for a few seconds.

Mac and Cheese Please!

One of my good friends from Monster has the most adorable 9-month-old. He just had surgery last week to fix a cleft palate problem in the roof of his mouth. I saw him today and he was so happy and bubbly, it was hard to believe that he had just gone through major surgery! And he seemed to adore me as much as I love him, since he came over, grabbed my face and gave me a kiss.
I brought over a pair of green (naturally) Halloween pajamas with spiders all over it, not realizing that Kelli had planned to dress him as a spider for Halloween this year! And to give her and Alex a break, I made them Andrew's favorite Mac and Cheese with garlic rolls and peanut butter brownies for dessert.

This is what the Mac and Cheese looks like - It's drier than most recipes and I like to use a lot of Italian bread crumbs on top (in fact, this batch was light on the top with crumbs since I know most people don't like them as much as I do):

Mac and Cheese recipe
  • 1 (8 0z) package elbow macaroni
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (12 oz) container small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 (8 0z) container sour cream
  • I also tend to throw in whatever cheeses I have in the fridge, which can range from American cheese slices to grated Parmesan. Recipe technically calls for 1/4 cup grated Parm
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta until done and drain. Leave pasta in drainer.
  3. In the pot you used to cook the pasta, cook cottage cheese for a minute on medium flame. Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, any other cheese, salt, pepper and milk and stir. Add macaroni noodles, stir thoroughly and remove from heat.
  4. Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish and pour macaroni mixture in.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle topping over macaroni mixture.
  6. Bake 20 - 30 minutes or until top is golden.


Monday, October 13, 2008

My Snack for Today

Tomatoes from the two plants I have in the front yard. I planted the bushes in July and they have tons of green tomatoes on them but have taken forever to ripen. I enjoyed my first real crop today.

Geocaching Take 2

As today was our day off, Andrew and I decided to tackle another geocache - Dolan Pond Stroll. This one was a two-parter that is 10 minutes away from the Newton house.

It was another beautiful fall day and I was so glad to be spending it another hidden gem of a park.

First set of coordinates led us to Dolan pond:

Andrew had to get on his knees and feel under the corner of the dock (this is a look at the corner):


We followed the second set of coordinates but couldn't find the cache at the end - very disappointing! This was supposed to be a relatively simple geocache but I'm thinking that TomTom isn't sensitive enough (even set to walking directions as opposed to driving directions) and it's giving us too large of a general area to search. Seriously, we spent 20 minutes searching in the woods where poison sumac is plentiful trying to finding a 6" x 6" container. I'm starting to think that geocaching is better for devices like iPhones but we won't give up! There's a geocache listed around the corner at the Newton Library that we're eyeing for our next adventure.