Things I baked this week

Tina had a Superbowl get-together last weekend, which I was excited to attend for 1) spending time with my BFF and 2) eating tasty food. Walking to Tina and Ben’s apartment is no joke (Thank you, Nob Hill.), and it happened to be a warm weekend. My coolest apparel option was a dress, so I showed up totally overdressed to a football-viewing event.

Also, upping the twee factor of this whole scenario, I brought the sweater I’m working on for Jessica.

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(I really love Tina’s stuffed baguette pillow from Taiwan.)

My contribution to the food spread (wings! ribs! chips and guac! Chinese buns!) was a tin of chocolate chip cookies made from the recipe in Hand Made Baking. This might be my favorite baking cookbook. I’ve made several things from it, and everything has been delicious. The recipes are pretty simple and traditional, but they all turn out delicious–like your idea of what a good chocolate chip cookie should be. In case you’re wondering, these are the perfect blend of crisp and chewy, appealing to both camps of cookie enthusiasts.

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Also on Sunday, I made the ridiculously poor decision to bake a pie after we walked back from Tina’s. I had prepped the crust in advance and set about making and baking the filling when we returned. You know what’s never a good idea? TRYING TO MAKE PIE CRUST WHEN YOU ARE TIRED. Rolling out pie crust is just, well, the worst.

The pie turned out pretty ugly; the word that comes to mind when I look at this photo is “sinister.”

chocolate pie

Because of the major crack in the crust, I assumed that I had over-baked it, but by that time, it was time for me to go the fuck to sleep and stop caring. When I finally fell asleep, I had dream about the pie being an overcooked and chalky.

(I woke up refreshed and ready to start the week, but that damn pie came back to haunt me. Turns out, my arms, though I have started lifting, are not happy about carrying a Pyrex dish filled with chocolate pie on my mile-walk to work. I was also so preoccupied with remembering the pie that I forgot to grab my stylish work flats, so I was walking around the office in running shoes all day.)

Anyway, the pie was actually made with love to celebrate Eyal’s birthday, which was worth a lot of the incidental rage. Several of us furnished pie and fixin’s for the event, and it was a success! I used the lessons learned in my and Kayla’s cake decorating class to write “¡30!” on the pies. (I don’t know…Spanish?)

Pies for Eyal's birthday

The birthday boy man seemed pretty tickled and surprised when we burst into his fake meeting with balloons, pie, and ice cream. It’s one of the things I really like about my job — we often surprise each other for birthdays and bring in baked goods to share, just to be nice. (And also, donuts if we break things…)

Eyal eating pie

And, in case you were wondering, the chocolate pie was totally delicious and not overcooked. Thanks to everyone who listened to me rant about the whole experience (Mom,  Hus-friend, Jay, Steve, Maggie, Amira, Kim, anyone who follows me on Twitter, everyone who was in shouting distance of my desk….)!

In unrelated news, check out this fortune I got recently:

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What do you think the small lucky package will be? I just traded in my old Kindle, but I already know that’s coming. I hope the aforementioned package is a surprise!

On liking “Hamilton”

Hamilton poster, SF

Have you ever felt like you were, bewilderingly, the only one who didn’t get the hype about some new thing? That’s how I was about Hamilton when I first listened to it.

(If you’re not familiar with it, Hamilton is THE hot musical on Broadway. I won’t try to describe it. Just go read the Wikipedia synopsis and search for clips.)

I love musicals, and was all set to love Hamilton. Admittedly, all I know was 1) that it was wildly popular and 2) that it was about the “ten dollar founding father.” The first time I listened to it though, I was just like, “WHAT. IS. THIS?!? I don’t like it!”

My love for musicals started when my mom played the Les Misérables London cast recording on  two cassette tapes during a road trip. And I was hooked, primarily on the spectacle musicals that boomed in the 80’s and 90’s plus RENT. I love big costumes, impressively orchestrated moving set pieces, people belting out ballads that don’t seem humanly possible, and soaring, dramatic scores. Songs from these musicals are what I [try to] sing while cooking or driving alone (and sometimes when the poor Hus-friend is around).

I was really bewildered that so many people instantly liked Hamilton. I even googled “I don’t like Hamilton musical” to see if I could find a review that could explain why I didn’t care for it. I did find one that mostly said it’s overhyped, and Catherine, one of my “briskly judgmental sistren” (her clever name, not mine), agreed that she found it  overrated.

However, I didn’t want to be left out of the fun “We love Hamilton!” club, so I persevered:

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I asked Jordan for his favorite song recommendation (“Wait for it”) and gave it another listen. I forced myself to listen to the cast recording from start to finish while I read the “synopsis” (also known as, uh, history) on Wikipedia.

I still resisted liking it, especially the rapping songs; the rhymes felt forced and awkward. However, the more I’ve made myself to listen to it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that my main dislike for Hamilton stemmed from the fact that it is not a traditional Broadway show and features musical styles that I don’t know how to appreciate.

I’ve listened to Hamilton at work every day to try to find new things to appreciate. The actors’ voices are really lovely, and I enjoy some of the very clever lyrics. Of course, when I played my favorite song (still “Wait for it.” Nice call, Jordo. You know me well.) for the Hus-friend, he remarked, “That’s because it sounds like every other Broadway song.”

Hamilton is apparently kicking off its US tour in San Francisco next March, so I guess I’ll be going to see it.

But in case you were wondering, I think my top five ranking (in no particular order) is:

  1. Ragtime
  2. RENT
  3. Les Misérables
  4. The Secret Garden
  5. The Music Man

Sing, you college students!

Last month, Ashley told me about this reality show on Netflix called Sing It On. It follows a few collegiate a cappella (going to write this all as one word now) groups competing for the title of national champion at the ICCA finals. I don’t know what the acronym stands for exactly, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but it is the organizing body of the competition.

I think only Ashley and I have been actual fans of the show. It makes basically every person out to be morally reprehensible, but it was made for amusing knitting TV.

I was definitely too cool for [everything plus] acappella performances in college; I mean, does anything seem less cool than dudes waving their hands in front of their mouths to make wah-wah noises? After finishing the series, however, I though it might be fun to check out the local branch’s quarterfinal competition, held in a lecture hall at Berkeley.

Groups from ten schools competed for the top two spots so that they could move on to the Northwest region’s semi-finals. (The top team from the semi-finals moves on to nationals, which will be held in April in New York.)

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Of course, I couldn’t go to this alone! I convinced Christian, my twin, to attend as well. Oddly enough, neither of our spouses were interested in coming with us….

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(Look at that lady creeping on us in the next row.)

But that’s not all! I also shared this event with some friends from work; I didn’t meet up with them at the competition, but we did have a running commentary in between sets.

And! I invited my new friend and Korean conversation partner Songyi and her husband to come because it seemed like a uniquely American experience. Songyi and I have been chatting via KakaoTalk and Skype, but Saturday was our first time meeting in-person! Unfortunately, a concert does not offer a great opportunity to chat, but we plan to meet up again soon.

Mica + Songyi

So, about the concert: it was disappointing. In all honesty, some of the performances made me a little uncomfortable because the performers were trying so hard to emote while singing that they looked like they were just in pain.

Also, I always want acappella to perform pop songs that I know with really good rhythm, amazing harmony, and belt-y solos. I guess a “total package” group is more rare than I originally thought. So in addition to some disappointing performances, I didn’t recognize a lot of the songs (though maybe that’s just because I’m old now and don’t know what the youths are grooving too…).

I didn’t think any of the groups were really spectacular, and the two groups I thought would win didn’t even place. I guess that’s why I’m not a judge of collegiate acappella…though clearly I should be! The judges took forever to make their decisions, and while we were waiting–after already sitting through two hours of groups–we were “entertained” by another acappella group. It was a lot of listening to people make music with their mouths, and I felt bad that so many people had come on my recommendation.

Then again, good for you, college students, singing your hearts out! I’m glad they’re all doing something that involves camaraderie, teamwork, and making music, rather than just binge-drinking and being horrible humans. Plus, it felt good to be random unaffiliated adult in the audience, not friends or family that came to support one group. When I did community theater, I always hoped that random citizens would come to the performance, and last night, *we* were those random citizens!

Oh, and Songyi just return from a trip home to Korea, and she brought me some gifts.

These are magnetic bookmarks that clip over the pages of your book:

Magnetic Korean bookmarks

And these are tooth brushes featuring two of my favorite characters from KakaoTalk: Apeach and Muzi. Can you guess what they are? Apeach is, well, a peach and not a butt like I originally thought. And Muzi is a yellow pickled radish that wears a bunny suit. Yep.

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Korea is really the land of cute-weird stuff. I can’t wait to go and pick out some really fun souvenirs to bring home!

Super exciting grown-up lives

Phew, it’s finally February! I felt like January just dragged on forever!

Look what came in the mail for the Hus-friend today!

Tokyo marathon packet

Woohoo! We leave for Japan in just over three weeks, and the Hus-friend is in the thick of marathon training. His last 20-miler is this Sunday and then the long taper. I’m really looking forward to spectating the race, too!

I’m happy report that Bodger’s corneal ulcer is finally, finally healed. The veterinary opthalmologist determined that the ulcer was just a result of old age, not some trauma. While I’m glad Bodger didn’t bonk himself in the eyeball, it was a frustrating injury and took a long time to heal. Ultimately, the vet had to perform a “grid debridement” to get the ulcer to heal, and it looked pretty gross for awhile. Fortunately, it should be good now…until it happens in the other eye. Awesome.

Bodger, tongue out

Bodger is, of course, completely oblivious. He takes his twice daily eye-drops like a champ, and he LOVES going to the vet because he always gets treats. Plus, all the vet techs tell him how cute he is. What a stupid flirt. I know better! He just farted, by the way.

In our very exciting lives, we made an always stressful Costco run for some essentials (meat, vitamins, baking supplies, etc.). Being an adult is super fun. You get to buy bulk items and then eat leftovers on a Monday night!

Costco haul

Sometimes, I say that I feel bad that I’m not more “fun” in the traditional 20-something (almost 30-something) sense. I don’t really though. I enjoy my life, even if it doesn’t involve a lot of socializing and dressing up. Last night, we watched Grease Live! and I worked on Jessica’s sweater while wearing pajamas. It was basically the best end to the weekend that I could have imagined.

Draw a foot.

My coach Bram is quite good at drawing, and I recently discovered that he went to art school for awhile. This is helpful because he can draw realistic sketches of the bar[bell] path and what my body should be doing (arched back on bench press!). It’s also just amusing to see what he can whip out on the whiteboard at the gym.

The other day, there was a request for drawing a 3/4-, front-, and back-view of a foot. I immediately grabbed the marker and said, “I’LL TRY!”

Can you guess which drawing is mine and which are Bram’s?

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Surprise, mine is the drawing in red! I know you’re so surprised.

I’m a really terrible artist. I’m not sure if it’s because I have poor hand-eye coordination or if I’m just spectacularly unobservant of how things look–and even worse at translating that onto a page.

Oh well, we can’t be good at everything.

[P.S. If you are so inclined, send it to me, and I’ll add it to this post for comparison, haha.]

Sunday miscellany

I didn’t post at all last week because I’ve been fighting with THE CLOUD, trying to determine the best way to store the 40GB of photos I have stored on various drives. As it turns out, I am a prolific snapper of shots, and I’m looking for a simple solution to back up everything I have now. All my photos are currently stored in Apple iPhoto/Photos libraries. I tried uploading all my photos to GooglePhotos, but the uploader seems made to run in the background, and the user doesn’t have a lot of control over what gets uploaded when. I’m trying out Prime Photos now, but I’m not sure I’ll always have a Prime membership in the future. Does anyone have any advice for the best way to back up ~20,000 photos that doesn’t involve an external hard drive?

In other news, we got Bodger a fancy new bed. He’s a digger and spends a lot of time rooting around in his rectangular bed, which is admittedly filthy and disgusting. I replaced it with a “cozy cave” bed, but I ordered the smallest size, which seemed way too small when it arrived. I was worried he wouldn’t use it, but he has managed to wedge himself into the cave.

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Sometimes, however, he can’t figure out how to “open” the cave and just sleeps on top of it. Oh well, as long as he uses it! Who am I to tell him how to sleep in his bed?

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My friend Catherine organizes a super-cool “Little Free Libraries” project in Richmond and has been asking for book contributions. (Click on the link to see her current wishlist.) I wanted to contribute some books, but instead of going through Amazon, we went to Aardvark, the local used book store, and picked out some of our favorites. It was sweet to look through the Children’s section and find old favorites. For “middle-grade” readers, we selected:

Books for little free library
The Giver, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, The Family Under the Bridge, The House at Pooh Corner, Ramona Quimby, Age 8

And for picture books, we had fun picking out:

 

picture books for Little Free Libraries
The Snowy Day, The Korean Cinderella, Owl Moon, The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales

I feel lucky to have had so many family members who read to me and to have been introduced to so many special books. My grandmother read The Snowy Day to me, my mom loves Owl Moon, and both the Hus-friend and I laughed a lot about The Stinky Cheese Man. I was just remarking that there were very few books featuring Korean characters and culture in the 1990s, but that is changing now (hooray!), so I was really pleased to have found The Korean Cinderella today.

Hope you had a nice weekend and are successfully digging yourself out from a mountain of snow if you’re on the East coast. I wore a dress with bare legs today.

 

So I encountered some racism.

I can probably use my fingers to count all of times I’ve encountered overt racism, which is certainly a good thing. It’s better to be surprised by, rather than prepared for, racist comments and actions, but the downside is that I usually just stare helplessly at the offender because I can’t think to react quickly enough.

Sunday before last, the Hus-friend and I were on the way home from the Mission and were navigating through a stretch of sidewalk on 18th St. near Guerrero that was under construction. There was only enough room for people to walk through single-file, so I went first, with the Hus-friend following right behind me. As I neared the end of the construction stretch, we approached a man in his 20s holding bags of laundry. He appeared to be politely waiting for us to pass through before entering this same section of sidewalk from the other direction.

I was about to smile at and acknowledge him when his eyes flitted from me to the Hus-friend and he yelled, “How the fuck do all these white dudes get Asian girls and I’m not good enough?!?

Taken aback, I stared at him and made my default face, a furrowed brow and “Ex-SCUSE me?” expression, but I kept walking, and so did the Hus-friend. Time seemed to slow down as I took in everything that was happening: being yelled at, the upending of my initial impression, the realization that this man was NOT OKAY, and the fear that the situation would escalate. Maybe you heard about the man in New York who was approaching Asian women and then hitting them in the face with a blunt object. Despite myself, I think about that whenever I receive unwelcome advances on the street.

We kept walking, and as we passed, the man eloquently called out, “Fuck YOU, bitch!”

“Well, that was unexpected,” I told the Hus-friend, who was similarly taken by surprise by the entire incident.

The first conclusion a lot of people draw, myself included, is that the man answered his own question with his behavior. Hahaha, he can’t get an Asian girlfriend, or probably a partner of any kind, because nobody likes being cursed at. The irony is amusing, but to draw only that conclusion is to ignore the real problem that this man is harassing women and making them feel unsafe.

It seems like it would have been satisfying to craft a smart response to this effect, but this scenario didn’t really have a winner. If I had retorted “That’s why, you asshole!”, who knows what his reaction might have been or how the situation could have escalated. It is my opinion that this man was unwell and that nothing I could have said would have improved the situation.

Responding with something clever would not have taken away the fear I felt at being verbally harassed on an otherwise completely pleasant Sunday stroll. It wouldn’t have made me feel less enraged that this man feels entitled to yell aggressively at any woman he pleases. It would not have made me less upset about being categorized as an “Asian girl,” as if Asian women are all interchangeable prizes, regardless of personality, values, quirks, etc.

I’ve tried to write a meaningful conclusion to this post, but the only thing I can come up with is that racism makes me feel terrible and no amount of smart-ass responses can make me feel better about it.