Saturday, March 31, 2007

Raisin Bread

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Whoever invented raisin bread should be given a medal or a reward or something. Raisin bread rocks! It's sweet and tasty but it can also be toasted and buttered (low-fat Becel) to make it a delicious after-school snack *or* an early morning, quickie breakfast.

Sure, the protein content is a little bit low, and the sugar content is a little bit high, and there is simple-carbohydrate white flour in there too, but boy does the stuff taste good!

I'm currently limiting my intake to 2 slices a day. Otherwise I could easily eat the loaf over the course of a day.

So that is my new food obsession of the day, along with grilled cheese sandwiches (gluten-free, high-fibre bread with low-fat processed cheese and fried in light Becel...YUM!).



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fratentical Twins?

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In my life, I've only ever personally known two sets of "twins" - my dad and his late bro, and my friends HB and MB. I've long suspected that the labels of either "identical" or "fraternal" did not apply entirely to either set of twins, and perhaps now my suspicions might be confirmed.

According to this article, a new twin variation has been identified, where there is only one egg but two sperm who have managed to penetrate into the egg prior to dividing up into two separate embryos. In the past, they believed there were only two ways to create twins: two separate eggs and sperm (fraternal), and one egg and one sperm that divided into two whole embryos (identical).
Personally, I believe in this semi-identical twin theory. In the case of my dad and late uncle, they looked far too much the same in their early years to be fraternal, and yet they were considered as such. In the case of HB and MB, they looked way too different to be considered identical, and yet the evidence suggests that they are genetically-identical twins.

So now, this proposes a third theory into the mix. However, it may not be a perfect theory in that it has yet to answer how the DNA then matches up; if you're not entirely identical, does that not make you automatically *different* and therefore, essentially fraternal anyway?

I'm no geneticist so this is way beyond my realm of understanding, but it is nice to think that perhaps there is more to my long-existing suspicions than just "gut-feeling." And even if it doesn't lend total support to my personal theory, just let me live in my little bubble anyway, okay?


Monday, March 26, 2007

I Blame My Parents! ;)

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My Mommy and Daddy were in town this weekend to watch the Beijing Opera put on a marathon of a show. Aside from this event, they also wanted to spend some extra quality time with their children, especially as the marrying-off of a second child draws nearer.

For my folks, food = love, right? So for them, quality time basically meant time spent eating together. In fact, the moment that they entered the city, we were invited to join them for lunch (which I politely declined so that I could spend time vacuuming dust bunnies from the corners of our home). The same evening, we were summoned to one of my sister's homes to consume an obscenely large spread of delicious, homemade, Dad-style cooking (complete with prawns in a pepper sauce, sweet and sour pork, pan fried fish fillets with snap peas, soy sauce chicken, Chinese BBQ pork, and a delicious seafood soup). After an exciting game of dominoes, the fruit trays and cinnamon sticks and poppyseed loaves came out for dessert.

The following day (yesterday), post-church, we were invited to join them for a light lunch once more (which we declined because of pre-existing plans), and then in the evening we were treated to a large Chinese banquet feast (10-course meal) at a restaurant in town.

Which brings me to today. I'm meeting up with them for dim sum this morning, a pre-parting farewell food fest to get caught up on the details of their opera night.

The point of all of this is, I blame my parents for my foodie love and my foodie waistline. They have instilled in me an appreciation for food, period, and a weird association between affection and appetite. It manifests when I pick up "treats" for Hubbs that are edible, and when I share from my entree the choicest morsels so that my man can enjoy my meal as much as I can. It also manifests when my idea of "celebrating" means going out for a good meal, and I consider rewarding myself for good deeds or a hard week by getting something sweet and tasty to eat.

It even manifests when I cook or entertain; I want to make or prepare the tastiest, largest spread possible, so that people feel appreciated and satisfied.

To love is to feed, and to be loved is to eat.

It is therefore little wonder that my waistline tends to expand more than it tends to whittle down.

Thanks a lot, Mom & Dad! =P







Friday, March 23, 2007

Foot in Mouth Disease Redux

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Is it just me, or is there only a very very fine line between sarcastic, funny, "trash talk" humour (at the expense of self and others) and full-blown inappropriateness and insult?

It seems that there are those, like my Hubbs, who can pull off the whole tongue-in-cheek thing and come off as witty, brilliant, and funny, albeit a little bit self-deprecating in the process. Then there are those who attempt the same type of humour but, owing to either bad timing or a poor choice of medium or improper word selection, end up coming across as awkward and having inadvertently insulted someone.

I must admit that for the most part, I am not a proficient user of sarcasm or the whole "trash talk" thing, which is why I usually avoid using such a voice in my speech and writing. To me, it's better to err on the side of caution and kindness than to risk putting my foot in my mouth and hurting someone's feelings.

But not everyone is like me, and not everyone realizes that they've crossed that fine line between humour and hurt in the way that they use their words.

If you are one of those people, you have a disease. Foot in mouth disease. Please get a cure or stop talking; you're infecting those around you and it's not a pretty sight.

Thanks.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Stilettos

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How do people do it? By it, I mean wear (without limping or twisting ankles) stilettos to work...at a school...teaching kids all day. It is true. In my present placement, I have witnessed the incredible feats of full-day-stiletto-walking accomplished by secretaries and teachers alike. We're not even talking about fat heels, either; we're talking 2"+ sexy, skinny, step-on-a-toe-and-break-it heels.

I stand amazed by these skilled walkers, because I cannot do it. I tried once, one day, to wear a fatter 1.5" heel for a full school day, and by lunch time I was already thinking about full-foot amputations.

Can anyone teach me to wear these sky-high shoes and not blisterize my poor feet? Style and attractiveness are noble goals of mine for fashionable classroom attire, but I am limited by my aching feet!



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mother's Tongue

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Sometimes the events in my life read like a novel, with all sorts of strange, seemingly random occurrences foreshadowing subsequent, equally-random events in a storyline that details the life of a normal, ordinary Chinese-Canadian woman.

And that is what the past few minutes have sort of felt like, for me. You see, I just finished having a conversation with my mother. During our chat, which was conducted mostly in Cantonese but with some English sentences and "Chinglish" phrases interspersed into the dialogue, we discussed my improving health and other miscellaneous topics about our respective lives. At one point, however, my mother asked me (in Chinese) to try to explain a phrase to her. She wanted to know what "put your words in your mouth" meant. Not ever having even heard such a phrase before in all my years of study and experience, I had no idea what she was talking about, and thus I had to ask her to repeat herself. When this provided precious little clarity to the question, I then attempted to offer up alternative idioms in its place, thinking that perhaps she had remembered her phrase in error. No, no, she insisted, this was the phrase she had heard. Finally, I inquired about the source of this phrase. It was Tim, a friend of theirs whose first language is Cantonese and whose mastery of English is mediocre at best. Ah, I realized. It was probably a Chinglish error at work. "This isn't a real English phrase, Mom," I replied to her confidently. "Don't use it and don't worry about it."

Anyway, this got me thinking a little bit about my parents' understanding of language (and specifically, of English), and my own ability to flip between "proper English" (which I used at some points during my conversation with my mom) and this dialectal "Chinglish" that is universally-spoken by most ESL, Cantonese native speakers. There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the two as far as syntax and semantics are concerned; the iconic Cantonese language is so rich with details embodied in simple syllables that the need for certain prepositions and articles and suffixes is simply not there, and to try to impose these conventions and mechanics onto their English understanding is immensely challenging, if not arguably impossible.

It also made me appreciate the fact that my parents and I are able to understand each other even though we seem to operate with very different language abilities: my simple, conversational Cantonese and my complex, multi-syllabic English sentences are both effective mediums to convey my ideas to my mom and dad, and their strange dialectal Chinglish and their perfectly polite, complex Cantonese are also clearly understood by all of their children, in spite of the drastic differences in all of these tongues.

So, with all of these ideas in mind following my conversation with my mother, I logged onto my e-mail, only to discover a link to this: Amy Tan's essay on Mother Tongue, in which she explores her own journey with her mother and the various forms of English that they have shared over the years. I devoured the article, reading it with great fascination and a reflective spirit. At the end of it, I found myself thinking that the chat with my mother, the discussion on English idioms, and the subsequent discovery of the essay were all a little too coincidental, not unlike how authors seemingly link unrelated events into a coherent, foreshadowed whole in order to tell a great tale.

Creepy.

PS - Hubbs helped me to figure out that my mom was trying to ask about "put words in my mouth" rather than "put your words in your mouth." I was thrown by the possessive. Anyway, we called her back and explained what it meant to put words in one's mouth. She was pleased with our explanation. =)





Monday, March 05, 2007

Cross Contamination...or Reinfection...or Whatever You Call It

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Hubbs is sick. I've never seen him so sick in the whole time I've known him, but he looked and sounded *brutal* last night. His voice was shot, his nose was a raw crimson shade, and his sneezes were so violent that in the aftermath his biceps actually hurt.

I think I made him sick. And I think he's now making me sick. And I might make him sick again. It is an ugly, ugly cycle when you live with someone in a small place where you're not allowed to open the windows in winter, and one of you falls ill, because inevitably the other one does, too. Then, the second person to get sick manages to re-infect the initial sick person, and so on and so forth it continues.

Hubbs was up until 4:00 am last night because I think he was having hot flashes and then cold spells. He was also dizzy at one point, sneezy and runny-nosed throughout the night, and generally not feeling fabulous. His ears hurt at one point, and he also mentioned a killer headache at another. The guy is a walking poster-boy for a bad cold and cough, and yet he still insists on working (from home, of course - wouldn't want to spread the viral love to the entire office!). His drug of choice, Neo Citran, is his only saving grace right now...and that stuff doesn't even work that well (unless, of course, you're on the hunt for a lovely Asian wife, in which case it worked great for him already!).

I sincerely hope he gets better, both for selfish reasons (not wanting to get sick again) and unselfish ones (poor guy is miserable...and I don't want him to feel like garbage again, especially on a night when 24 is on!).

You can send your well-wishes to his email and cheer up my poor, ailing Hubbs. I'm sure he'd appreciate lots and lots of sympathy and TLC...and maybe some chicken soup, cuz I don't know how to make that stuff!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

How To Create a Monster...or Lenten Promises

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This year, for Lent, I decided to give up two things that I love very very much: chocolate and coffee.

I have created a monster.

Teaching without coffee is sort of like a bed without pillows; you can get through the day (or night) but it's not all that great an experience, relatively speaking. The kids wonder why you look burnt and haggard first thing in the morning, and fear to ask you too many questions before recess. The heels are dragged into the classroom and the facial expression is dour for the first hour of the day. And then you walk into a staffroom wafting with the fragrance of freshly brewed java delight, and you salivate like Pavlov's dog and fight the urge to call the whole dang thing off. And the process then repeats itself at lunch time, when once again another blissful pot of liquid heaven is percolated for the enjoyment of those less stupid in their Lenten promises than yourself.

Th
ankfully, the chocolate sacrifice is a little easier to deal with, although perhaps it's Murphy's Law that right when you give it up, everyone serves up desserts that involve it as a major ingredient. All of a sudden, in my desire to have something hot that isn't coffee, I have to turn to herbal teas because hot chocolate contains...chocolate.

I've been a rather grumpy girl lately. Gee, I wonder why?

So, it has been almost 2 weeks since Ash Wednesday, and I can proudly say that I've made it through so far without cheating, with the exception of Sundays, which most acknowledge to be freebie days from Lenten commitments. In the past, I haven't taken advantage of the Sunday exemption, but this year, there is no stopping me.

And so I sit and tell you this sordid tale while my hot delicious cup of Second Cup coffee and chocolate chip muffin sit beside me, ready to tame the monster that lives the other six days of the week.


Romance Alive and Well

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Forgive me for bragging, but really I must. I have the best husband in the world, and this was once again proven true on my b-day.

Firstly, there were the dozen long-stem roses, delivered to the school at which I am working right now, beautiful flowers spraying their aromatic scent
s to lure the coos and awws of staffers who saw me that day.


Then, there was the delicious Indian dinner we enjoyed in romantic ambience at the New Asian Village (review on the foodie site to come). Lamb masala, butter chicken, garlic naan, and coconut rice, chased down by a creamy strawberry lassi. What more could a girl ask for?

Well, there was more. A lot more, as it turned out. Two very sweet cards (a funny one and a hilarious one), followed by the icing on the cake: my present. It's a surprise, you see. It still is a surprise, because I don't know what it is yet.


You see, my Hubbs is a romantic at heart, and creative too! For my birthday, he gave me a manila envelope containing 12 pieces of paper on which are written 12 "gifts" for me, one for each month of the upcoming year. These gifts are either material gifts or else "event/date" gifts, but I have no idea what they are, though I am assured that everything contained therein are things that I love or will enjoy. Anyway, on a Saturday of my choice each month, I get to redeem one of my gifts by drawing out a piece of paper on the Friday prior, and giving it to Hubbs (without looking at it) so that he can make the necessary arrangements for me to receive my gift. Then, on the Saturday, I get to find out about my present at 12:00 noon that day.

The one big rule about this gift, though, is that I am not allowed to guess the contents of the envelope. I cannot ask Hubbs about it, and I cannot peek. I must trust him and let myself be surprised.

Great gift, eh? I was completely blown away by his ingenuity, and by the personal nature of the gift. I also loved the idea of celebrating my birthday all year round, which in essence he has made come true.

No wonder he's a keeper! I am very blessed. And now I can enjoy growing older every month by having the experience eased by the blissfulness of being surprised with something nice.

Okay, I'm done bragging now. I'm sure you have your own brag stories too. Feel free to share those with me; I need ideas for his upcoming birthday (in June)!