recipe

when life gives you lemons.

Make tea.

The lists on my end are never ending these days. I have lists with side-lists, old lists superimposed onto new lists, and lists of lists. It’s getting a little out of control, but it beats having nothing to do at all (or so I’m telling myself, let’s just go with this for now).

I had some mint leaves left over in my fridge from a few weekends ago. I had the best of intentions to use those mint leaves to make mojitos, but time has a way of slipping by, and so the days passed with no mojitos in sight.

So, I made this really quick drink in between my to-dos and must-dos, and it turned out pretty well — a spicy, tangy-sweet, and minty drink. I’m pretty sure it would be quite good chilled, too.

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Ingredients:

2 lemon wedges
12-15 mint leaves
ground cinnamon
honey
a cup of boiled water

Directions:

Squeeze the lemon wedges into boiling water, add mint leaves & let brew for a few minutes. It will be a really light color, but it will have a lot of flavor. Then, add cinnamon and honey to taste.

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being indoors isn’t all bad…

since you can climb inside. Here’s what I’m up to on most Sunday mornings while at home…

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it’s the most wonderful time of the year (re: Valentine’s Day)

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Valentine’s Day has been my favorite day of the year for almost forever (not sure when I decided to officially declare it as the best). It’s an under-celebrated/under-appreciated holiday in my opinion. What kind of Grinch hates a day for love? If it were up to me, we’d all still get hand-drawn valentines delivered by hand or snail mail, sugar would be a main component of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the entire day would be dedicated to people, places, and things that are loved. In an ideal world, of course. Since I have control over my world, that is exactly how the day was spent.

February 14th also happens to be my momma bear’s birthday, so while I didn’t get to see her this time around, she was certainly in my thoughts. When my brothers and I were little, we would always wake up to small gifts set out on the table for us, despite the fact that it was her birthday. Candy bars, stuffed animals, and one year, jars full of brand new polished pennies in all of their copper glory, accompanied by a tabletop gum ball machine. My mom is brilliant, and undoubtedly the best mom ever … you know how these things are. So, this is how I spent my Valentine’s Day. Hope yours was just as sweet!

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gong hay fat choi! ::from NYC to DC & back::

Yet another new beginning to write about, or at the very least, a new marker for a new beginning. This past weekend was the Chinese New Year, and here’s what my family was up to back in DC…

[meanwhile, I was snapping some photos & dying of the flu while fleeing NYC’s blizzard Nemo]

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joyeux anniversaire

This past Sunday, it was my birthday (!). In between suffering from the blistering cold here in the city, there are occasionally (okay, quite often) moments of serene happiness. Keith came to visit the city, which is always a perk of any month, and many pieces of birthday cake/dessert were consumed in a very short period of time. My friend Julia baked the most beautiful, and potentially heaviest, carrot cake I have ever had the pleasure of eating. And Pisticci, a small local restaurant, was pleasant enough to draw out a leisurely late lunch into practically a midnight snack. Or, at least in my mind, attempting to eat at 3pm should not mean the bill is paid around 7pm — or something like that, but the mishap did end with a free dessert that was basically just a mountain of whipped cream topped with berries aka the best dessert ever.

It was a beautiful weekend, and it’s always nice to take a few days to step back to appreciate those around you/to remember that you are appreciated, too. Cheers!

Kiwi gave me a mystery plant, which I of course proceeded to ruin. I didn't ruin the plant, but I certainly did ruin the mystery. More to come on this developing story later.

::Kiwi gave me a mystery plant, which I of course proceeded to ruin. I didn’t ruin the plant, but I certainly did ruin the mystery. More to come on this developing story later::

Pisticci midnight snack

::Here it is, the mountainous pile of whipped cream and berries. Eat your eyes out, people. Keith’s hands were shaking out of pure joy, and thus, the picture is blurry with a instagram-tastic filter to mask the photography::

little nugget::Here’s Julia, decked out in a true party-dress, which is probably why she was the hit of the party. Baking cakes and donning birthday attire. Her spirited adherence to the mystical birthday code is noteworthy::

Birthday Bao::In addition to my Birthday Plant (sounds infinitely better if I were to ruin the surprise…okay, Birthday Beans) I got a Birthday Bao from Julia! It was probably the largest bao of my life, which is significant for many reasons, most astonishingly because I just got back from China and have never seen a bao this huge before. Alas, it was stuffed with all things good, and the steamed bun (rather than baked) reminded me of home/China/Chinatown. Birthday Beans & Birthday Baos … probably some of the best gifts I’ve ever received, if you’re ever looking for a gift idea::

 

 

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Shanghai ::: part two, Moganshan Lu & Funny Doll Café

If you are ever in Shanghai, and you find yourself in need of a quieter day, away from the crowds and the honking (trust me – millions of car horns going off at all times), away from the stores and street vendors, I highly recommend visiting Moganshan Lu. Although, I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to be away from the street vendors… they are such an accessible & affordable source of sustenance, which shouldn’t be taken for granted if you are a student who can’t speak Chinese and is in China.

[A small ode to street vendors: you may have to choke back tears from the amount of smoke surrounding you, and you may have to close your eyes in order to forget that there’s oil dripping from all of the fried things, and you may have to get used to the idea of someone preparing your food while coating it with cigarette ash … but I promise that your eyes will water with delight at the salty, doughy, chewy goodness that is most certainly all around you. Not to mention, it is infinitely easier to feed yourself on the street when you can point. In other words, there is no menu to dauntingly stare back at you.]

We ended up on Moganshan Lu by mistake, as most things tended to happen in Shanghai. It is a very serendipitous city. We initially had tried to find the ShanghART museum (which we ended up calling ShART for most of the visit, but you can do what you want with the name) on a street off of Huahai Lu, which is exactly where one tourist-y site said that it would be. Yet, come to find out, it wasn’t there. This wasn’t exactly shocking news since everything around Shanghai was somewhat akin to the staircases from Harry Potter. It’s all there, and it’s all familiar, but somehow it’s perpetually shape-shifting and switching. By the end of the trip, it was neither shocking nor upsetting that galleries/restaurants/stores/museums would all disregard their hours of operation, and therefore would open or closed as they pleased. Take for example, the Shanghai Art Museum, which people lovingly gave us opposite directions to, pointed at random buildings, told us to turn random corners, and all the while failed to mention that the museum had in fact, shut down. Go figure.

After a few confused minutes of spinning around and around in a courtyard wondering which building ShART could be in, the guard told us that the museum had in fact moved to Moganshan Lu. Fearing that the ShART didn’t actually exist, it took us a few days to work up the courage to go.

We finally decided on one of our last days that we absolutely had to go, if only for the satisfaction of tracking something down & getting lucky enough to be there when it was open. We hopped in a cab, we arrived, and ShanghART was no where to be found. There were signs that once again pointed in opposite directions, a map that was very obviously misdrawn, and no famous museum to be found. But then we stumbled upon dozens upon dozens of other galleries all in a small cluster (the exact address is 50 Moganshan Lu). Think Chelsea Galleries except colder, smokier, and arguably better. We only encountered a few other people, and most of the exhibits were quite thought-provoking. No pictures were allowed, but I hardly wanted to take photos. I wanted to peruse.

Then inside of one of the galleries tucked away on top of a building, there was a tiny café run by a woman. It was quite cozy, and the latté was over priced, for China at least, but nothing to complain about. There was free wifi, and she let us sit for a solid three hours.

On our drive to the galleries, the streets were lined with graffiti – a rarity in the parts of Shanghai we saw. I wish that we had gone out to leisurely walk before the sun had set because by the time we had left the café, it was almost dark outside & we were left with only the smallest glimmers of smog-filtered light.

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And so the ShART museum was never found.

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Shanghai ::: part one, the loose ends


One of the things that I teeter between loving & hating is surprises. I love them if I don’t know they are waiting for me. I hate them if I realize they are impending, and I hate/love them when I know what they are. So, while I like to figure out (and therefore) ruin surprises for myself, I refuse to subject you to such torture. However, it’s a dilemma…because I’ve just told you that there is now a surprise, and so you may begin to hate this post without knowing what the surprise is.

To begin on a sour note, and to take you out of your misery (I am going to tell you the surprise) I can’t post many photos from the trip since I will be using them in a different project, which will also be online.  To begin on an even sourer note, that surprise wasn’t a good one. Yet, such is life.

However, I’ve shared some of the small found things that were scattered about here & there, and I hope that suffices for now. There will be a few other posts with pictures that won’t be included in the project.

Shanghai was a magical city, wrapped in a cozy gray blanket of smoke, smog, ashes, and spit. The sidewalks were lined with achingly beautiful trees, the people were incredibly welcoming, the architecture and landscaping were amazing (the buildings make NYC’s look like babies, and the fact that they plant and replant blooming flowers throughout the middle of winter is so impractical, and yet so lovely), the streets were impeccably clean (not a single piece of bubble gum to be found! in a city of 20 million!), the subway was extremely well-organized and traveler-friendly, and the food tasted of home (well, sort of. It was mostly Mandarin cooking, and my family is Cantonese… so I wasn’t accustomed to the abundance of noodles/fried goods/noodles/seafood/noodles. Cantonese cuisine typically has more vegetables and meat).

Here are some loose-end photos, none of which are exactly related to one another. Most of them were taken in Tianzifang, a charming maze of alleyways that snake about this-way and that, and which I swear is the Twilight Zone and/or a black hole and/or Bermuda’s Triangle. Others were taken in the hotel room and random locations throughout the French Concession, which is on the Puxi side of the river. I would recommend staying near the Dapuqiao subway stop if you ever visit since there is quite a bit around that area.
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