Archive for July, 2008

Desperate Measures

Most people who know me know that I have a picky child. I know it’s some kind of karmic payback for the years of demanding food requests I inflicted on my parents as a child (and if I’m being really honest, into my early adult years too) — nothing with ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, soy sauce, vinegar, tomatoes, peppers; food neatly segregated and kept from touching each other on my plate (which always prompted the response from my dad, “Everything gets mixed up in your stomach anyway.” Ewww dad. Not the same.) — yeah, I was hard to feed.

And now it’s my turn. Noah’s diet is pretty much vegetable-free so Mark and I have to get a little creative with the way we sneak in veggies. For a while, we pumped him full of Green Goodness Juice — a juice made of stuff like wheat grass, spirulina, broccoli, artichoke, spinach, and blue-green algae cleverly masked with apples, kiwis, mango and bananas. Noah loves the stuff and would literally go through gallon a week. But then he discovered guava juice — green juice’s sweeter and more nutritionally bankrupt second cousin.

I picked up Deceptively Delicious a few months ago. If you don’t know what it is, it’s Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook on how to sneak veggie purees into food. The recipes were a little hit-and-miss. Some things Noah would eat and others he refused to try. I eventually gave up on it because cooking and pureeing all those veggies was such a pain in the butt for things that only had a 50% chance of getting eaten. After a week of Noah eating nothing but chicken nuggets and rice though, I had a desperate moment and broke the cookbook out again. There was a recipe there that I’d always wanted to try but never really had the guts to make — Brownies with Carrot and Spinach.

Yep. Carrot and spinach puree in chocolate. Yum, right? It’s not an insignificant amount either. There’s 1/2 cup of each kind of puree in the recipe — that’s one large carrot and a bag of baby spinach leaves. So I put on a movie to distract Noah from my machinations in the kitchen and got to work.

Here it is after I plopped the purees in:

I’m sure your mouth is watering, right?

After a little mixing and adding in about 1/3 cup of melted chocolate, it’s undetectable…by sight at least. I’d know that spinach smell anywhere:

An appetizing snack or a science experiment gone bad? Hmmm….

The book recommends waiting until it cools completely so that the spinach flavor disappears. Here’s Noah after his first taste of veggie brownie:

Is that chocolate in his teeth or spinach? Hard to tell, but at least he liked it.

[Note: During a moment of weakness in which I grabbed a brownie because I was hungry, I took a bite forgetting at the time what was in it. The picky part of me wanted to spit it right back out, but then I realized — just as the book says — you really can’t taste the carrot or spinach in it at all. It still freaks me out just a little bit though.]

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July 31, 2008 at 9:31 am 11 comments

A New Hobby

I’ve been a little spend crazy ever since I got back from Tokyo. Perhaps it’s because Tokyo is so expensive I only came away with some socks and arm warmers. Or perhaps it’s because Hong Kong makes me so grumpy that shopping is the only way to alleviate my grump. Perhaps I really do need all that stuff I bought. Whatever it is, in two days I’ve managed to pick up a pair of killer heels (literally — the 4″ stiletto is killing me…but it’s so worth it because they’re so cute), a new dress (to go with the new shoes naturally), some books and today, a new camera.

For a few months now I’ve had my eye on a Holga camera that seems to pop up wherever I go. A sure sign that it’s fate. A Holga camera is essentially a cheap, plastic, film, toy camera used in Lomography — a style of photography that emphasizes casual, candid photography and is often characterized by over-saturated colors, blurring, and “happy accidents”. You can look through a gallery of pictures here. The Lomographic Society also developed 10 Golden Rules of Lomography which completely appeals to me so I’m copying them here as well. They are:

1. Take your camera everywhere you go.

2. Use it any time — day or night.

Every single second has its own unique, light, grey, colorful, woolly, profound, flat mood. Your life is not going to wait for your camera, its rules and the fooling around involved. Either – click – you have captured the situation as it is, or you haven’t.

3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.

Lomography doesn’t interrupt the direction your life is going, it’s just a significant and integral part of it. Just like talking, walking, sleeping, eating, thinking, drinking, laughing and loving. It’s a powerful sign that you are alive.

4. Try the shot from the hip.

You don’t have to look through the viewfinder to take a good picture. Give yourself more freedom in your choice of perspectives. No limits – just your experienced mixed with some luck.

5. Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible.

6. Don’t think.

7. Be fast.

First impressions have a quality all of their own, trust yourself.

8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film.

Give the random in lomography a chance. Enjoy your new way of living with random occurrence. Lomography only works if the only thing you concentrate on is celebrating your life.

9. Afterwards either.

Your brain is running on top speed, your history is tumbling. No, you don’t have to know exactly what’s on the film even afterwards.

10. Don’t worry about any rules.

Forget the ten golden rules – discover your very own lomography. Immerse yourself in what’s going on, do it and do what you want but do it now.

I admit that some of these rules are going to be a bit challenging for me. Me — who is unspontaneous, self-conscious, indecisive and mistrustful — but perhaps that’s why they appeal so much to me. I didn’t end up getting the Holga as I originally intended, but its predecessor from the 60’s, the Diana. I also picked up a fish-eye lens and some color and black-and-white film. I think the hardest part for me will be waiting until I develop the roll to see what comes out. Lomographs may look cool, but there’s something to be said for the instant gratification of digital.

July 30, 2008 at 8:49 pm 7 comments

A Word on Emas and Papparazzi (another photo heavy post)

I am just a little bit obsessed with emas. What are emas you ask? Well, they’re small wooden plaques that Shinto worshipers write their prayers or wishes on. (And for anyone checking, yes, I did copy that definition almost word for word from wikipedia.) The ema are then offered up to the deities at the morning ceremony by the priests.

The Meiji Shrine has a huge tree hung with ema and everytime I go there, I always take some time to walk around it and read the ema. They range from silly to serious, hopeful to heartbreakingly sad, but for the most part are all sincere. As Jae so eloquently noted, “Funny how there are so many people in the world and we all want exactly the same thing – health and happiness.” Here are some of my favorite emas:
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July 29, 2008 at 2:32 am 5 comments

One More Japan Update…A Little Bit Late

I’ve been slacking on writing about the rest of my Japan trip but I know you’re all dying to find out what happened on the rest of my trip with Jae (yeah right). Click here for her version of events or read on for mine.

[Warning: this will be looong and photo heavy]
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July 29, 2008 at 1:57 am 3 comments

Photo Challenge: Haiku

It was Jae’s turn to choose the photo challenge topic for the week and she choose haikus. Specifically, we were supposed to take a photo of something not family related and write a haiku about it. Here’s mine:

Oh hot, humid day
When the mercury rises
I become so slick.

July 26, 2008 at 6:20 pm 12 comments

Things You Learn About Your Friends

I think most people know that I “met” Jae online at Maya’s Mom over a year ago. We commented on each other’s journals, made fun of each other on discussion threads and chatted on YIM over the course of that year. But no matter how much you correspond with someone online, there are some things you only discover about them when you meet in real life. And as an adjunct to that, there are things you learn only when you’re thrown together for extended periods of time on a trip. Such as:

Jae sweats a lot. Like, A LOT a lot. She actually told me that she has a tendency to fog up her sunglasses because of how hot she gets. That amused me to no end this morning.

In a country where the average height of the typical male is a mere 5’5″, Jae is so short that she has to sit down on the subway trains because she can’t reach the handles hanging from the ceiling.

No one will sit next to the sweaty American if they can help it.

As remarkable a photographer as Jae is, she can be really shy about taking photos. She’s also very good at goading me into taking photos for her instead. Like this one:

My head is a lot larger than Jae’s.

July 24, 2008 at 10:16 pm 9 comments

A Jae-filled Post

Jae got in this morning. She had taken a red-eye flight from Sydney Tuesday night and arrived Wednesday morning bearing gifts. There was a purse for me (yay!) and for Noah she brought toys and the cutest hoodie with a skull and crossbones design and little devil horns on the hood. Noah isn’t into hoods but I may have to bribe him with ice cream or something just so I can snap a picture of him with the horns on.

We went to the Mandarin Oriental for breakfast/lunch. The Mandarin has an awesome view of Tokyo from their restaurant on the 38th floor. Once we got seated though, I realized that I had taken Jae to a place with no Japanese food on the menu for her first meal in Japan. Oops. But hey, a chicken sandwich is a good way to start off any trip…ok, maybe not, but the view was awesome in any case. See? Jae agrees:

We headed over to the Imperial Palace after lunch and lasted a mere 30 minutes. We got over the moat, through the gate, took a short much-needed A/C break by ducking into a small museum near the entrance and walked around a corner when Jae asked me, “Is the rest of it pretty much the same as this?” Poor Jae was almost literally melting in the heat. And while watching someone continually wiping off her sweat mustache is totally entertaining, there are only so many jokes you can squeeze out of it before she wants to hit you. So we headed back to the hotel to rest up before dinner.

I nagged Mark into taking us to Seryna (which I wrote about here) for an ishiyaki dinner. Because the meat is cooked tableside, they provided bibs to cover up and help keep the smoke off. When our geisha tied mine on me, Jae joked that it would make a great picture. Fortunately for me she didn’t bring her camera to dinner. Unfortunately for her, I did:

We walked around Roppongi afterwards to try to walk off that huge dinner. Here are Jae and Mark at Roppongi crossing:

Thank goodness they get along or else visiting her in Sydney next month would’ve been kinda awkward. Hopefully she likes Noah too because Mark and I are planning on getting her to babysit him for us (shhh!). Mark left us shortly to go back to work (yes, at 11:30 pm). After a stop at a pet store to fawn over puppies and kittens (and monkeys…which was actually kind of sad) and some coffees at Starbucks, we went back to our hotel. Once we both got back to our rooms we hopped online and ended up IMing each other for a little while (geeks!).

Of course, what would a trip to Japan be without an earthquake? We got hit with a looong 6.8 earthquake a little later. Naturally I hopped online and IMed Jae again. Her response? “Woo hoo. I haven’t had an earthquake in ages.” hehe. She’s a hardened Californian too.

July 24, 2008 at 1:58 am 5 comments

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