Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mangoes 1, Joyce 0

As it turns out, I don't have an allergy to mangoes.

However, I did wake up yesterday morning with a  rash on my upper lip - which has slowly spread to my whole upper lip (not the bottom) and a small patch by my eyelid.  The good news is that you can't see the rash on my lips even though I can feel it and it is Eyelid patch is easily covered up with some make-up.

So what the heck is going on?

I did some research and it looks like I'm actually allergic to the urushiol oil in the skin of mangoes.  Urushiol oil may sound familiar to any Boy (or Girl) Scouts reading this because it is the same thing in poison ivy and poison oak that causes blistery rashes. Turns out, mangoes are in the same plant family as these two plants, you can read more about the allergy here. I tempted fate by writing my last post and now I'm being punished.  Le sigh.

So no more mangoes for me unless I wear gloves to peel the fruit. However, that's not stopping me from my Chobani yogurt!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mango Madness

Hello, my name is Joyce and I'm addicted to mangoes.

I really have been on a mango tear lately. In fact, writing this post, I had to stop midway, go to the fridge, and grab a container of Chobani mango yogurt which I've been buying in bulk.

Why is this such a revelation and a current obsession? For twenty years, I've stayed away from mangoes because I thought I was allergic to it. 

It was fifth grade, I was ten years old and we were living in Oahu, Hawaii, land of mangoes. One day, I had a severe allergic reaction (we're talking a swollen face chipmunk cheeks and my poor Asian eyes were mere slits) and by process of elimination that day, we decided that it was a mango that caused the reaction and that I should avoid them from that day forward.  We moved back to South Korea soon thereafter, so it wasn't a big deal to give up mangoes in a land that doesn't have them! Throughout the years, however, I've been tempted by dried mango slices brought back from my parents' coworkers trips to the Philippines, fruit salads loaded with fat chunks of mango and fancy desserts with a mango coulis swirled on the plate. 

Amy, being the good sister that she is, would taunt me by eating mango in front of me and revel in the fact that she got all the mango in the household for herself.  She even gave me a recipe for mango chicken as a contribution to my wedding shower recipe box. When we pointed it out, I think she genuinely forgotten that I couldn't eat mango but recovered quickly by pointing out that I could make it as a meal for Andrew.

But to give Amy credit, she was also the one that kept throwing out the idea of introducing mangoes into my diet once again, questioning the fact that I was actually allergic to them. I always told her it was a small sacrifice to avoid them in light of avoiding another allergic reaction.

It was a slippery slope back into eating mangoes - I think I boldly ate some mango coulis on our honeymoon and survived unscathed.  When Chobani introduced its mango flavored yogurt a few weeks back, I took the plunge and started eating that - no side effects.  And last night, I cut up a mango and went to town.  This morning, I woke up, looked in the mirror and was fine.  Time to start making up for twenty years without mangoes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Still Looking...

Andrew and I spent the weekend condo-hunting for my parents, more like pre-screening places for them to check out once they're back in MA this summer (!)

One of the places we checked out in a highly desirable suburb of Boston looked beautiful from a distance - Andrew thought it had a Southern plantation feel, and I agreed.

It was more like a Southern plantation then we realized (think glory of years past), because as you got closer, you could see signs of neglect (peeling paint, crumbling plaster) and it got worse inside with huge structural issues like sloping floors, bowed columns, and rotting wood.

Farewell Tara, we'll continue our search for a place for my parents to live. Luckily, we had a few good prospects out of the seven places we looked at this weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The World Is Abloom...

...or at least our yard is.

Andrew and I looked around our yard one day and realized that some rather ordinary-looking bushes (for most of the year) have suddenly burst into color.  And, we did hedge our bets by planting additional flowers this year, going for pretty annuals as opposed to the veggies we grew last year.  Discouraged by the amount of animals that ended up nibbling on what we grew outside last year, we've limited our vegetable growing this year to a few potted tomato plants, and a lone zucchini plant.

Consider this a visual tour of our front yard but I'll warn you already, I don't know the name of half the things (ok, most of the things) in our yard!

To the left of our front door, all sorts of beautiful perennials that continue to amaze us each year:

These poor things did not hold up well to the windy weather and thunderstorms we had last week, which blew them into this position:

Can I tell you how much I adore the green glaze on this pots and the periwinkle color of these flowers? Just a little spots of color to say welcome:

On the opposite side of the yard, alongside the fence, there were plenty of gaps to fill from our misguided weeding efforts last year (Andrew and I are positive that some perennial plants were accidentally - ahem - removed):

Moving further along, I stuck a row of different colored gerber daisies - only one seems to be thriving right now, but I'm happy to report that there are other small blooms pushing their way up on the neighboring plants (you'll have to take my word for it!):

Facing this area, back on the right-hand side of our front entryway, is a tiny row of spunky pink and white blooms that I've planted in a row:

You can see them better against the backdrop of the purple-toned perennials.  I always thought these perennials were kind of ugly even though I like the color of their foliage but as it turns out, I'm pretty these are set to blossom soon due to the stalks you may be able to make out:

Andrew is particularly proud of this hulking rhododendron at the edge of yard that borders the park - he trimmed it back earlier in the year, which we believe has caused it to bloom more than it did last year. The small bushes you see in front of it (to the left) are hydrangea bushes which bloom later in the summer (from what we remember happened last year):

Even the climbing vines on the fence have gotten the memo about flowers, as I noticed tiny white flowers appearing on the bottom of this cluster:

Taking a walk round the house to the back, we find Andrew cleaning the deck and stairs with our powerful new water hose - that small plot of land in the back has tiny morning glory plants popping up (one of my personal favorites), which we hope will grow to cover the whole back trellis section:

Andrew's beloved grapevines are also thriving - we were pretty sure they would survive the winter, but weren't entirely convinced until we saw buds pop up everywhere:

This concludes the tour of the outdoor portion of our house. Congratulations to you for not being bored stiff and hanging in there until the end.  If you're wondering about the one side of the house that I didn't show, it's actually the site of one of Andrew's pet projects and I'm trying to convince him to write a guest post on it.  If I'm successful, you should be reading it sometime this week.  As encouragement, please leave a comment below encouraging Andrew to do it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Joyce's Homemade (Sweet!) Sangria

Summer for means enjoying sunshine on the deck with a glass of sangria at hand.  I'm not really known for being a bartender (or mixing any type of drink for that matter) but I've been making sangria for years.  As it's also one of Charlotte's favorites, sangria makes its appearance at every Plymouth summer BBQ.  Except for last Labor Day weekend, a month and a half before the wedding, where I had complete wedding brain and forgot to make it.

I'm not a wine drinker most of the time. When I do drink wine, it's usually in the form of champagne or something sweet like a reisling. I stay away from red wines because to me, they represent purple teeth and a heavy, thick flavor that I don't enjoy.  So to transform red wine into a fruity summer drink, I rely on a lot of booze, fruit and sugar. So if you enjoy a traditional red sangria that uses brandy and still tastes like red wine, stop reading here.  But if you're looking for something flavorful and refreshing, I proudly present my sangria recipe!

Sweet and Fruity Sangria

1 bottle of the cheapest red wine (like a merlot) you can find - I like using Trader Joe's three buck chuck
1 bottle of a red Arbor Mist (I know it's not real wine but bear with me) like blackberry merlot or sangria
Fruit of your choice (2-3 cups) - I like to use peaches, nectarines, oranges, limes and strawberries
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup - 1 cup of white rum (I usually stick with a 1/2 cup)
1/2 peach schnapps (In my world, peach schnapps makes everything taste better)
1 cup of orange juice

Chop your choice of fruit (pictured below is an orange, one lime and most of a pint of strawberries).
Add white sugar and toss the fruit in your container until well coated. 

Add rum (and schnapps if using) and refrigerate for an hour to allow the sugar/alcohol mixture to draw juices from fruit.

Next, muddle the fruits with a long handled spoon to release more juices. Add OJ, and both bottles of wine.  Mix and for best results, refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.

We enjoyed the batch above at the Memorial Day BBQ but I forgot to take pictures of the final result. So for an admittedly stylized version of my sangria, see below:

Photo source here

Doesn't that make you want to grab a glass and find some warm weather?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Toto, We're Not In Kansas Anymore

I forgot I had taken this picture until I found it on my camera.

On Wednesday night, I was watching the news coverage on the severe storms in central and western Mass.  The word tornado was being thrown about.  All of a suddent, the TV screen turned black and this message appeared:

I stared in shock for a moment because I had never seen the Emergency Alert System in use before (I know we're all used to the "test of the emergency system" messages).  Then my inner blogger took over, and I tooke a picture to commemorate the occasion.  I still can't believe that there were tornadoes in Massachusetts.