Congee, My Comfort Food

Whenever I don’t feel good, I usually prefer to eat rice congee, also called as rice porridge, or lugaw in Filipino.

rice congee topped with rousong (dried pork floss) and soy sauce

Rice congee is my comfort food. I know most people would say chicken soup is best to eat when you are not . I prefer it over chicken soup. Come to think of it, chicken soup is not even on my top 3 food that I eat when I’m not feeling well.

I felt like I was coming down with something and I didn’t have any appetite to eat anything. So I had asked Chris to make me some congee. I always find myself eating congee when I can’t eat anything else.

Congee is good because it’s a clean food when it comes to how simple the ingredients are: rice and water. It can’t get any simpler than that. What you add to it are based on preference and there are a lot to choose from. Even I have so many different preferences when it comes to my rice congee.

There are many different types of congee and/or rice porridge. This one is just a simple congee.

The rice was boiled with 3 parts water ratio compared to the rice. So with 1 cup of uncooked rice boiled with 3 cups of water. No salt added or any seasoning when it was cooked. You can add chicken bouillon and ginger too. But with this one in the picture, the congee was made simple. Once it’s cooked, then that’s when I add seasoning. My go to seasoning and toppings for my congee is soy sauce and the Chinese dried pork floss, also called rousong. I sometimes like adding century egg too. Sometimes you can also add a bit of lime juice, a sprinkle of onion chives, and dab of fish sauce. You can always switch between soy sauce and fish sauce. But if you don’t like the color on your congee, you can always use salt.

ASL 05.13.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Growing Vegetables

Hello Spring! Since I have been placed on temporary furlough status, I have been doing some gardening. It is not yet time for harvest. I’m looking forward to get a taste of our home grown vegetables.

We are growing tomatoes, cabbages, onion and garlic, to name a few. I will try to share more photos for the rest next time.

ASL 05.11.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

A Delicious Sign of Hope

A small delicious sign of hope – our favorite Chinese Take Out place just recently reopened.

For weeks we have been checking constantly on when our favorite Chinese Take Out place would reopen. Not only that, but we also drove around the neighborhood if the other Chinese Take Out place are open. They weren’t. We saw about 3 different places closed.

Today Chris got home telling me, “I got good news for you. I think things are starting to go back to normal.” I replied with, “what made you say that? did they already come up with a vaccine?” Chris responded, “no.” I asked again, “did they find a cure?” Once again Chris answers with a firm, “no.” I stopped asking as I was really more guessing.

I went to the kitchen and found my answer. I see our usual order on the kitchen counter. I was surprised!

“You found a Chinese Take Out place open?”, I asked. He just nodded. “Or wait! Is this from our Chinese Take Out place that we normally go to?” Once again, he just nodded, but smiled this time. I ran to him with excitement and joy because finally we can normally order Chinese Take Out again!

This may seem silly to some. But we are one of those that value the little things in life. It may be little things for some but it can mean so much more for other people. What about you? What’s something so small and maybe silly to others but seems like a sign of the hope for you? Feel free to leave a comment below.

ASL 05.03.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Composition Notebook Sewn Fabric Cover

Back in 2018, I had received a gift from a friend/coworker’s mom.

Randi was over in Tampa for work and I had seen her notebook cover and told her it’s so cute and pretty. I had assumed she had sewn it herself and had told me that it was her mom who had sewn it.

Months later, Randi flew back to Tampa and we saw each other at the office.  Upon seeing me, she said I have something for you. I was so surprised that she had something for me and she told me it was from her mom. 

It was a composition notebook sewing kit that she had prepared for me. In the kit were a letter, an instruction, and the materials that I would need to finish it.  The red fabric already stitched with cushion and even has my initial embroidered on it. It also has several already cut fabrics to serve as the pockets where I could insert in the composition notebook cover/flap. It even came with a polka dot designed ribbon to match the theme, which I assumed was a love bug theme.

I have never met Randi’s mom, Miss Dixie H. So this was truly a sweet surprise. Upon seeing the gift, I had remembered the notebook cover I saw from months ago. Randi mentioned it to her mom and so her mom made something for me to finish. I read the letter, twice! As I couldn’t believe what I just received. I thanked Randi and had also thanked Miss Dixie as well.

For the past 2 years, I have been trying to finish it.  But each time I opened the kit, I felt intimidated by it. It was really simple, all I had to do was sew them together. However, I didn’t want to ruin it. I was afraid that I would mess it up.  So I always end up putting it aside. This went on for 2 years. Every now and then, I would open the kit then close it back. 

When my furlough started, I had added this in my list of goals to accomplish.  I would look at the kit then I would tell myself maybe tomorrow I will feel more confident to do it.  

I realized that if I still have not finished it even with more than 20 days into my furlough, then I will never be able to finish it. Therefore, I have decided that I cannot let this go on and not be able to finish it. So a few days ago, I had opened it again and read the instructions possibly 5 or more times.  I googled the verbiage as I’m not so familiar with the sewing terms yet, such as “selvages” “batting” etc.  Once again I felt intimidated.  For the past 3 days I kept looking at it then putting it off.  I played with the fabric placing it on the notebook, then look to see if I sew it here or there would it be okay. I would put it down to walk away from it for a bit. Then come back and hope that I can overcome whatever roadblock that’s stopping me from making it.

Today I told myself, I need to at least start doing something with it. So I went ahead and started sewing on the edges. I couldn’t follow the image of the instruction so I went with my gut feeling and just placed where the pockets would be. This was one of the struggles I had before, whether where to place the pockets or how many pockets I should add. I realized that I just have to keep it simple. I told myself, “just sew the pockets that you need to insert the book cover.” That seemed to help. I found myself keep asking, “now what?” After each hurdle I would face, now what? After I had sewn the pockets, now what? After I had sewn the lining with the pockets on the notebook cover, now what? Then it came the time for when I had to sew the ribbon on the edges. Once again, I tried to figure out what it should look like. In the end, I went with my gut feeling. I think it turned out great!

If you do look at it closely, you will see that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to sewing. The stitching looks very messy. For sure, I won’t be entering any sewing business in the near future. I still need a lot of practice.

I want to thank Miss Dixie H. for giving me this project. I apologize for the delay in finishing it as I felt intimidated by it. In the end, I had to let go of any fears that I had and just told myself to have fun making it – and I did! This will be one of my cherished gifts. Thank you again.

ASL 04.28.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Kawaii Bento Box

Look at the cute bento box that I bought from Amazon.

It’s actually smaller than what I’ve expected it. But I think it makes it more portable that way. I can tell you now that this bento box is good only for packing lunch for one (1) person.

It’s just so cute that I don’t regret buying it!

I haven’t used it yet. But I plan to pack some good food soon for Chris to bring for lunch.

If you want yours too, I got this from Amazon. They actually have it in 2 colors: blue and red. Japanese Traditional Rabbit Blossom Bento Box Set with Bento Bag (Blue) I personally like the blue one. But the red one is cute too.

ASL 04.24.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Spam Musubi – Novice Level

I made spam musubi for Chris’s bento box.

This is actually not the first time we made spam musubi. Chris has made this for me a couple of time. But this is the first time I made it on my own. I had to improvised as I used the snack size seaweed for this, instead of cutting the big one to several lengthwise seaweeds. Even though I have a pack of full sheet sushi nori / seaweed, I want to save it for when we make sushi. The oriental store that we normally go to is temporarily closed due to this pandemic. That’s why I want to be very frugal with my ingredients without jeopardizing the flavor. However, I did see that I can buy sushi nori at Amazon. You can buy almost everything from Amazon! LOL

These were delicious! Not bad for a novice.

I wish the beaches were open and that the pandemic is over. As these are great to have for a beach picnic.

Onigiri – Made with Love

My first onigiri! Truly made with love.

I made some of my own home made onigiri. I googled a bit of what ingredients are commonly used to make onigiri. But I didn’t follow any recipe to make this one. So far I would say it tastes good. These are my first batch. For sure I’ll make more in the future.

I made the onigiri for Chris to bring as his lunch box. I made the ones above for my mom. See below for the ones that I made for Chris. Look at what I packed him for lunch!

scrambled eggs, heart-shaped seaweed, and red hotdogs
onigiri

He finished them all and said that they were delicious! 😀

ASL 04.15.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Kindness In Low Supply

Kindness in low supply as well as other basic needs.

I wanted to share how my day went today and probably this is something similar to your day. It is sad how our normal lives have taken a drastic turn. As you know I work from home and don’t really get to go outside that much. Today I decided to look for toilet papers before we ran out of our own supply. I wanted to be responsible and not to add to the people who are outside so I decided to call stores. I called publix that was nearest to the house. No toilet paper, as expected. Nevertheless, I made it a point to ask how the person was on the other line and letting them know of our gratitude for still working. I also wished them to continue to be safe and take care. Next call, Dollar Tree, no one was answering the phone. Then called CVS, no answer. So I went ahead and proceeded to going outside.

I went to CVS first as it was closest to our house. There was no toilet paper but I ended up buying dayquil and nyquil because I thought I might as well prepare for the symptoms if I get it since I’m the government is telling us that they want to SLOW DOWN the spread meaning the spread might still happen and we might eventually get it. So I went ahead and got me some medicine and even cough drops just in case. I noticed that there were so many elderly around me. I tried to distance myself. I overheard an older lady asking about distilled water and how she needs it for her health and how it has ran out. I see many older people still shopping. I left the store feeling bad.

Living in Florida, we always joke around how the whole state of Florida is a retirement capital. Even the neighborhood that I live in coincidentally was created to entice retirees to live in a quiet neighborhood that is still within the city. In just the street that I live in, I have 3 neighbors who are retired – 1 of which I constantly try to watch every now and then as she has had several medical incidents. Sometimes I’m scared to find an ambulance in front of her house and feel relieved seeing her ok the next day. Going outside today just reminded me how much more seniors live among us and who need our help more than ever.

My next and supposedly my last stop was Dollar Tree. I was thinking that maybe I’d have some luck there. No toilet paper but there were plenty of kleenex (limit to 4 per person). So it wasn’t a wasted trip. Once again I see a lot of elderly people. Usually I smile at people. But this time I just kept my distance and just grabbed what I needed, kleenex definitely then stumbled upon random things like pens and chocolates — ended up getting some of those too. I proceeded to the check out counter. The guy in the counter had white hair but I didn’t expect him to start off with this small talk and said “I’m 75 years old, and you know how I got to this age?” I immediately responded “by not eating chocolates?” lol He said, “no, by slowing down. you need to slow down don’t worry take your time.” I wasn’t aware that I looked like I was in a hurry but then again I’ve been told I look hyper and high energy all the time. After I paid I hand sanitized and left went to the car and for some weird reason I felt like staying there for a moment. I eventually drove away. Then as I was on a red light waiting for the green light, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the bag of kleenex with me. So I immediately made a u-turn at the first possible opportunity and headed back to the Dollar Tree. I felt embarrassed to have to walk in there because if I had listened to the old man and slowed down then maybe I would have been able to remember to grab my bag. When I walked in he told me that he had given it to a girl who tried to give it to me. But it turns out she walked away with it. But he had told me to still get what I needed. I grabbed the ones that were on my receipt, luckily I kept my receipt and had proof of what I bought. But I cannot believe that girl had taken my stuff that I paid for.

I had to go back to the corner where the kleenex is and while I was grabbing my kleenex a paper towel fell on me! I looked around and this old man was trying to get a paper towel from the top shelf. I told him I was fine and I can try to help, “I am short but I can climb it if needed. But I do see some of those at the bottom shelf. How many do you need?” He says he’s good with just 1 paper towel and went on his way. I went back to grabbing my kleenex. Then on my left this time, an old man talking to himself, “well this seems to be a good deal, I can use this in the toilet.” I was puzzled. I thought he had found toilet papers and saw him looking at the table napkins. He turned to me seemed to be waiting for a response. I felt obliged and said, “oh yes, definitely that is a good deal for that much.” He added, “these could work for me.” My heart sank. I wanted to tell him to take my kleenex instead since it’s softer but I told myself not to ruin his good mood and just continued to encourage him as that’s all I could do for his situation.

I went back to the counter and showed that I only took what was on the receipt of the bag I left behind and showed him the bag that I had so to make sure that I didn’t take anything extra. The old man said, “listen, don’t worry about it.” I told him that I should have listened to him and slowed down. He smiled. I said sorry again for the trouble.

As I was leaving I couldn’t let myself go home without doing something good. When I first arrived at the Dollar Tree, I noticed a girl who had a sign needing help. Normally I don’t like giving anything as I know that not everyone use it to help themselves but it could be for drugs. So I gave her a box of chocolate instead that I got from the store. I did ask her if she saw a lady with a plastic bag filled with kleenex. She said that she did and she seemed to be looking for someone for a moment. I told her that if she sees her again to tell her to return the items to the store if possible. She thanked me for the chocolate and I told her to stay safe. Then I went home.

There’s not a lot of kindness going around. But I still feel like I did experience some of that today. However, I do feel like we need more of it. You may notice that I emphasized the elderly on this post. I truly feel for them. They are truly struggling right now. If I’m struggling to find toilet paper, then the more they are struggling. Please don’t be selfish. Please only take or buy what you need. We all need to survive. That includes the elderly. They are our neighbors too. Let’s help our elderly and other families, by not panic buying and by only buying what we need for now. Please. Let’s all help in sharing kindness by being considerate. It’s not just about going outside or staying at home. Yes, you are staying at home to help with not spreading the virus. But you also bought so many supplies that your family will take months to use up. While your family is safe at home with abundance of supplies, another family is struggling still going out to look for more supplies. Kindness comes in many forms. It can be done directly or indirectly. So in a way, you have been unkind indirectly but the impact is as bad. So please be kind and be considerate. We are all in this together. We are all struggling. So we must all strive to help one another.

ASL 03.21.2020 (Clearwater, FL)

Offline Journal

I have an offline journal. It’s called my journal. You know, the one that I actually write on.

But here’s what I’ve noticed over the years. It took me months in between to write enties there. There were some entries that I had to write it months after it happened. Some because I was not ready to write about. Then when I was ready to write about it, I didn’t feel like writing. 

Then I thought about how about 2 decades ago that I actually tried to start typing my journal on the Microsoft Word document and saving the file on a diskette. Yes, a diskette! It didn’t last long as the storage was not going to be able to save that much data. Then the usb flash drive came into picture many years later. I tried it again. I realized that some of the things I was writing were something I wanted to share. So I created my first blog. It actually had a good following – partially because I was working as a Radio DJ at that time and people were curious about my off air life. Facebook wasn’t invented yet and Friendster, at that time, actually had a limit of how many friends you could add. I actually had 3 Friendster account just to keep up. So having a blog was good because they didn’t need to add me to be able to feel connected with me.

In my first blog, I posted articles like How to eat balut, photos of different events I’ve attended and/or even MC’ed. Unfortunately, the server that was hosting my blog made some changes and have decided to no longer host any blogs. So along with many accounts, my blog was deactivated and deleted. Luckily, Facebook started during the time when my blog was still active. People were able to slowly add me there and was able to see what I’m up to there. With Facebook on the rise, I didn’t feel the need to create a blog as I could share easily my stories there instead. Or at least I didn’t feel the need right away.

Eventually, I created a blog. I just had to create it for so many reasons. One reason is I wanted it to be more of a place where my family and friends can just visit and see any updates about my life. Whenever I get a message of family and friends checking to see how I am, it takes a lot of time trying to send messages 1 at a time. Group messages don’t really work because not all are in the same group, i.e. family, relatives, friends, coworkers, etc. I ended up creating several. I couldn’t really decide whether to keep my personal life updates on the same blog. Additionally, I had thought about what will be the main content of my blog. I settled with some blog names. I tried to update it often but still felt like something was missing. I still didn’t really post much of my personal life into it. Don’t get me wrong, I like keeping some parts of my life private. I like telling stories. So I thought to try to continue blogging. But, I want to be able to still document my life and maybe one day read it when I’m much older and my memory won’t be as I would have remembered. It would be good to look back and read what I wrote based on my own words.

The dilemma I face in having an offline journal is writing. I like writing on my journal but I hate the actual writing part. I’m more of typist than a writer. I like the thought that I can easily access my written recollections of my memory from a journal. So I really have to find a way to overcome that or find a nice offline journal that I can just type instead of writing.

I was surprised to find out that there are so many apps that you can use as your online journal. But there were very few, or close to none, that I could find that you could use an offline journal. I know I shouldn’t be surprise because, come to think of it, if you have a software that can only save it locally or offline, then you would have to be logged on to that device to write a new entry or to access old entries. So I thought about maybe if someone can invent an electronic journal.

An electronic journal, a software similar to blogs, that lets us write entries and securely save it on an external hard drive. It will have features such as showing us the calendar and showing us which days we have entries and able to categorize our journal entries too. It’s a great idea — if only I knew how to code to create such a software. I know a similar software exists. However, most softwares or apps out there are more of trying to get you to subscribe for them to keep your journal or it’s free but you have to be online to be able to access it. It would be nice if it could be like our word document files or pdf files that we can save in a folder. I know I could do that too. It’s funny because over a decade later, I still go back to thinking I should save it as a document locally or with an external storage. It was a diskette before, then now an external hard drive. Funny how big of a difference with the 2. I can also put in a password protect on the files. But to be able to find a journal entry with the saved documents, I would have to search all over the place within folders and subfolders, and would even have to try to remember the date when I would write it. Even though it would be good to just start somewhere and able to start writing, I didn’t want to do it because it didn’t seem practical to use. Another option I thought was if I just create a private blog and use the blog as a private online journal – and I did. But still encountered an issue with that. What happens if the blog account gets full? Or what if the host site for my blog account closes or halts its service? This has happened to me before. The site that was hosting my blog had announced that they were no longer hosting any blog sites and will give us time to slowly go thru our blogs and save what we need to save. I didn’t get to save mine. I wonder if the new blog sites have a feature that allows me to download all of my posts over the years. I didn’t really look into that. If they did that would be good to know that not everything will be lost. However, I will need to reorganize it again.

So in conclusion, writing in a journal will still be the most reliable option that I will have with me. I can easily update without being online. I can customize it the entry with text and drawn images symbols. I can also add printed photos by pasting on the page. At least, that is the plan until I find a better alternative.

ASL (Clearwater, FL)