Thursday, December 31, 2009

U.C. Berkeley

We took my friend to revisit the world-renowned U.C.Berkeley where she graduated over 20 years ago.  I used to walk with her from her apartment to the shops around the campus.  There are many unusual shops where you can find some creative and really weird items and products in Berkeley.  I still remember back when we were merely poor students, we would rather spend our money on trying delicious food rather than clothing. This is a whole street of shops in front of the campus entrance:

The main entrance


Sproul Hall and Student Union

We were fortunate to have a nice weather around but the air was cold.  By the time we got back to my friend's house, it started to rain. I am so glad I am able to spend time with my close friend and got the chance to take her to revisit some of the places that most of our memories began.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Zachary's Pizza in Berkeley

My friend wanted to go back to see her old college where she graduated from, so before we went, we first went to this pizza place named Zachary's Chicago Pizza in Berkeley for lunch.  This is a well-known pizza place in the Bay Area.  It's received many good reviews and was also voted into the Michelin guide of 2010.  If you are interested, you can go here for more details.

We were fortunate to find a parking space very close to the restaurant. As we were trying to find a parking meter, we found this newly installed parking ticket machine, where you can pay with coins or a credit card, enter the length of time you are going to park there for, then the machine will spit out a parking receipt for you to display on the dashboard of your car.

This is how it looks like inside the restaurant.  As you can see, there are many awards posted on the wall:

We were advised to place our food orders first while we waited for a table.  Luckily, we only had to wait about 10 minutes to get a table. The place is usually packed with people.  I guess we missed the lunch crowd by chance. Our pizzas didn't come until 30 minutes later or so. We ordered their stuffed pizza which contains cheese, spinach, mushrooms, etc. Their ingredients are all freshly made, even the tomato sauce is made from freshly chopped tomatoes.

We also ordered another thin crust pizza which contains bell peppers, sausage, onions, etc.

My friend ordered a slice of pepperoni pizza for her son, and when the pizza arrived, we thought the waiter had made a mistake by giving him a slice of cheese pizza instead.  The waiter quickly told us that the pepperoni was actually under the cheese as opposed to on top.  I later learned that is the Chicago way to eat the pizza.  I don't really have any complaints, other than the fact that they put a little too much excess tomato sauce on the deep dish pizza.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hot Pot Dinner Parties

During this holiday break, we were invited to friends' Christmas dinner parties.  Hot pot was served in both parties we attended.  Hot pot meals are often a popular choice during winter. When there is a big group of people, it's an easy way to entertain while not getting stressed out with all the cooking.  The hostess prepared all the raw meat, meatballs, tofu and vegetables, and while the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. All guests gather around the table to use their utensils to scoop up the food to eat in their own bowls. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. The most common sauce we use is a mixture of heated cooking oil with soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion and sometimes red pepper if a spicy flavor is desired.

At the first dinner party we went to,  we used both grills and hot pots at the same time. The traditional hot pot at home is above the table and fueled by portable propane gas.  Meat or vegetables are placed individually into the hot cooking broth by chopsticks, and the cooking time is usually short. Some people like to place items into the hot pot at a leisurely pace, enjoying the cooking process, but my family prefers to throw everything in at once and wait for the hotpot to return to a boil.  Besides the traditional way, there's a grill along the side of the pot in which you can grill the food and eat at the same time.

Last night we had this traditional hot pot, with soups on both sides of the pot. You have an option of  making a hot and spicy soup in one side, or both sides with plain soup and slices of ginger and onion to initially begin the cooking process.

We also usually have cold drinks on the side as eating in front of the hot pot can make you feel hot and thirsty most of the time. People have told me to not drink the soup that's been cooked in the hot pot because it has high content of salt and many calories after the meat and vegetables were cooked in it.

*Picture source: Wikipedia

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monterey and Carmel in California

My family and I took my friend to go sightseeing for the past few days.  Yesterday, we went to the beautiful beaches of Monterey, which is about an hour and a half drive away.  It was supposed to be a rainy, cloudy day, but it turned out to be a glorious, sunny day. The weather was perfect at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I took this picture on the way there:

There are many small shops at Cannery Row, an old town in Monterey:
Small shops inside a building in Cannery Row:

At Old Fisherman's Wharf, we had clam chowder and seafood at the well-known Old Fisherman's Grotto. We later bought candy at Carousel Candies, a small store known for their locally handmade candies. This is the view from Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf:

We then drove to Carmel which is about 10 minutes away from Monterey. There are many boutique shops along the street.  The whole street is decorated with many Christmas lights and there were countless visitors browsing through the small shops. It is my absolute favorite place to visit.  We ducked into a cafe and sat down to have some coffee and pastries and to rest our fatigued feet. Unfortunately, we had to leave early to attend a party and couldn't spend more time there.

I'm glad we went to Monterey and to Carmel yesterday as it has been raining all day today.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thai Noodle - Pad Thai

Over the phone, my Thai friend taught me how to make this Thai dish. All these ingredients can be found in any asian supermarket. This delicious recipe serves 4 people.


1 pkg.  rice stick noodle
1 clove of Garlic
1 lb.  Peeled shrimp
2 eggs
1 pkg. fried tofu - sliced into tiny slices
1 pkg. bean sprout
Green onion

Mix sauce:
1 jar  Pad Thai Sauce
1-2 tbsp Dark soy sauce
1 -2 tbsp Oyster sauce

To serve:
Crushed peanuts
Pepper flakes
1/2 Lime


1. Soak noodle in cold water for few hours or over night.
2. Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil on high heat
3. Blanch shrimp in boiling water until cooked.
4. Stir fry garlic and sliced tofu.
4. Add egg and stir fry until cooked.
5. Add in the noodle and stir fry.
6. Add half of the mixed sauce and mix well with noodle
7. Add a little of water at a time if the noodle is too dry
8. If the noodle is not softened to your satisfactory, keep adding a little water and cover with lid and simmer at low heat, the water dry up easily, make sure to check on it so it's not burn.
9. When the noodles are done, add the cooked shrimps back and stir well together.
10. Fold in green onion and bean sprout.
11. Serve with crushed peanuts and pepper flakes.  Squeeze some lime juice on top.


Always taste and check the noodle before adding more water and sauce. Add any oyster or soy sauce to prefer taste.  Fresh noodle can be used and omit adding the water when cooking.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

My children put up the Christmas decorations this year while my husband and I were out.  It really is scary to think of how they have removed the giant, heavy picture from the wall.  However, they did do a wonderful job:

As usual, today is the day that we open all the Christmas presents.  Looking at their faces reminds me how much they have grown, and that they know how to share their love for each other now.  It is also nice to spend time with my friend from college (who I haven't seen in 8 years) and shop, and talk about old times. This itself is making this Christmas even more wonderful than it already is.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

It's our tradition to dress up and take the children out to a nice restaurant and enjoy a wonderful  time together.  This year we will just have lunch since we will be going out to dinner tonight with my side of the family and exchange our gifts at that time.

Last year I stumbled on this christmas song during Christmas time, I love it so much that I didn't want to leave the car until the song ended.  It took me a long time to find this song, it's nice to share my favorite Pachebel Canon version of the Christmas song with you all.

Merry Christmas to All of you!

Pachelbel Canon- Christmas Song

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How I Wear My Jewelry

As I get older, I have learned to like to read fashion blogs and magazines. I have learned to only participate with the body I have and the style I like. It's a matter of keep up with the world and not fall into the fashion grud.  Here's what I have learned to restyle my own way of wearing jewelry:

  • Don't wear gold and silver on the same hand.
  • If you wear one big, bold ring, wear it with the same type of dainty ring or a diamond ring.
  • Don't wear skinny band rings if you have chubby fingers.
  • I like to wear a similarly shaped watch as my ring on the same hand. For example, if I were to wear a big square watch, I would choose to wear a small square diamond ring on the same hand, even though some would choose to balance the proportion by wearing each square on a different hand.
  • However, I really like the same shaped ring and watch look (with the size always opposite of each other, such as small square watch and bigger square ring on the same hand.
  • I do sometimes like to wear a cocktail ring on the other hand for fashion.
  • No big hoops or stud earrings for me! Table tennis ball sized hoop earrings are flattering for most people.
  • If you choose to wear dangling earrings make sure that their length doesn't pass your chin.
  • Skip the earrings if bold necklaces are put on, but it is okay to wear bold ring with it. Stud earrings are all right if you really want to put earrings on

Monday, December 21, 2009

Unique Gift Idea - Claypot

An idea that just popped in my head is that you can give this Chinese claypot as a Christmas gift if you still need a last minute gift.  All asian supermarkets carry this item.  Many of the claypots have designs on them. The Japanese ones are usually expensive, but they are beautiful.  The one I have is a very traditional claypot.

You can either buy a small bag of long grain rice or measure 2 cups of rice and put it in a plastic bag. Add in the Chinese sausage package with a copy of the cooking instructions I posted earlier. Some claypots come with a box, but if not, you can just get a paper box and stick some styrofoam in it, gift wrap it, and voila--you have a unique gift to give for the holidays.  Come to think of it, it can also be a great housewarming gift.

Chinese Sausage Claypot Rice - 煲仔飯

The weather is getting colder as we enter the winter season.  It's usually the time to eat claypot food to keep us warm. On the day that we went to San Francisco, we stopped over at Chinatown to buy a Chinese claypot and a Chinese chopping knife. The place we bought them from is called Wok Shop on Grand street. I bought this mid-sized claypot:The owner told us to do the following steps before the initial use to help protect the claypot so that it won't crack so easily:
1. Soak the clay pot in cold water for at least one hour.
2. Put a coat of cooking oil  (just a little) outside the claypot.
3. Add some cold water and let it boil on top of the stove for approximate 15 minutes so that the oil can seal the claypot.

I immediately started using the claypot that evening.  I had never made rice from claypot before, and I was afraid the rice would either burn or get soggy. So, I used some common sense and cooked the food and rice in the claypot. As a result, I was successful in making a delicious Chinese sausage rice meal from the claypot. Here are the steps before I forget them:

2 cups of long grain rice
2 slices of ginger
2 pairs of Chinese sausage (uncut)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cooking oil
4 tbsp Dark soy sauce
1 oz. meat  (optional)

Cooking Steps:
  1. 2 cups of rice, wash and pour into electric rice cooker first.
  2. Pour enough cold water into the rice cooker until the reaching the water level for 2 cups. If you do not have an electric rice cooker, pour 1 and 3/4cupscold water into the washed rice.
  3. Pour all the rice and water from the rice cooker into the claypot, that's the method to ensure we have the correct measurement of water for 2 cups.
  4. Cover the claypot cook with high until boil, add in gingers,  Chinese sausages or any meat that you like to add.
  5. Cover again and turn the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  6. In another saucer pan, heat a tablespoon of oil in low heat,add 4 tablespoons of dark soysauce and a teaspoon of sugar and mix well, then pour into a small saucer bowl。
  7. When the rice are cooked, pour the sauce from the saucer bowl into the claypot and mix well then it's ready to be served hot.
    Tip:(1):If you add meat, it should be marinated first with half teaspoon of each of soy sauce, sugar,sesame oil, and cornstarch. It's best not to add too much meat, for the meat juice will make the rice too soggy. The more meat you put in, the more time you need to cook the rice.

    Tip:(2)  To get perfectly cooked rice, only use long grain rice and never open the lid when you are cooking the food.  Don't add too much water, for the rice should come out moist, but not soggy.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    How I Restyle My Jewelry

    I have been trying to come up with different ways to wear my jewelry in order to fit in with today's modern trend by mixing my old/dainty jewelry with my big/bold jewelry. Here is what I did:

    1.Separate all jewelry by category such as: necklaces, bangles, rings, and watches.
    2.Sort by type such as: silver, gold, color, and chunky.
    3.Sort by length.

    Different ways to wear necklaces:
    • It is best to combine 3 or 4 necklaces of different lengths for a good proportion.
    • For a simple look- mix gold chains of different lengths,  or silver chains of different lengths, or mix silver and pearl necklaces.
    • For more bold/trendy look, mix both bold and chain necklaces together.
    Bracelets and bangles:
    • mix 2 bracelets and 2 bangles
    • mix pearl and silver bracelets
    • mix multiple skinny bangles and one big bangle
    • or mix several bangles together.
    • I don't have chunky bangles, because my hands are small.
    *Best tips I learned:
    • Don't wear a matching earrings set. One statement jewelry is best.
    • The length of your necklace should be equivalent to the length from the top of your forehead down to the chin.

      Here's a slide show I created with some combo:

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Remedy for coughing

    Friends have been telling me that this coughing solution really works. A few weeks ago, my daughter started to cough a lot and she lost her voice. Amazingly, she got her voice back the very next day after eating this steamed orange. She said it worked and she's not coughing as much anymore. Here's what to do:

     1. Cut open the top of an orange, cut a "plus sign" with a knife in the flesh, pour 1/2 tsp of salt in it.

    2. Put it on a steamer to steam it (water has to be boiled first), and steam for 20 minutes:

    3. When the product is finished, eat the whole flesh of the orange for it to take effect.

    3 Looks With 1 Blouse For Less

    I was shopping with my friend a few days ago and found this gray blouse at Ann Taylor.  I was very hesitant to buy it at first because the light gray color does not flatter my body. However, the shirt fit me beautifully and the price was reasonable. While I was so hesitant, my friend saw that the cashier was wearing a gray cardigan with a black ruffle in the front, and it was just gorgeous. That motivated me to purchase the gray blouse because I can always wear a scarf with the color that flatters my face.  As we paid the cashier a compliment, she told us she was actually wearing a black ruffle scarf over a gray cardigan and that they were selling the scarf  for $79. Anyway, we then headed to Macy's and found a black Infinity ruffle scarf and paid $16 for it. At Nordstrom, we saw a scarf with the same brand and style. It was $38! You could say that we got a good deal, and I do love a great bargain! Here are the looks I was going for:

    Ann Taylor gray blouse:

    With Infinity ruffle scarf, hanging from the neck:

     Infinity scarf looped around the neck:

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Crab Season

    Crab is my favorite type of seafood and I often serve them on special occasions, even when they are not in season.  When they are in season, I go to a Chinese supermarket practically every other week, just to buy crabs to indulge myself in. It is often cheaper to buy live crabs at a Chinese supermarket. They are $2.99 per pound when they are in season. Although there are many ways to cook them, I find that they taste best when cooked with curry. You can even make hot and spicy curry with them, or just some delicious soup. This is the simplest and easiest recipe I have:


    2 crabs
    1tbsp cooking oil
    1 glove of Garlic (chopped)
    2 slices of Ginger
    1 Green onion (chopped)
    1 tbsp Cooking wine
    1 egg

    1. Clean and cut the crabs to pieces.
    2. Heat up the pan and add cooking oil.
    3. Add chopped garlic, gingers and stir until you can smell the fragrance.
    4. Add the crabs in and stir fry.
    5. When the crabs turn color, add wine along the inside of  the pan and stir fry with crab a little, cover and cook for 8 minutes.
    6. Uncover and push the crab aside, to make room to cook the eggs.
    7. Crack the eggs in the center of the wok and stir quickly until it's cooked, then mix with the crabs.
    8. Add onion on top and serve onto plate.
    9. It's best to eat when it's still warm.


    1. All seafood do not taste good when it's overcook,  make sure the crab is not cook too long.
    2. Crab itself is salty, don't need to add anymore salt, unless you like a little more salty, add some light soy sauce when ready to serve.
    3. Remember do not eat persimmon and crab together, you might get sick from it.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Color of the Year 2010 - Turquoise

    This is the latest press release from Pantone. Pantone, the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries for 45 years, today announced PANTONE® 15-5519 Turquoise as the color of the year for 2010.

    What that means is we will be seeing a lot of turquoise clothes and accessories in the coming months.  It's a good color for most people. If this is the color you think doesn't flatter you, but still want to catch up with the fahion trend, you can wear a scarf or jacket over the turquoise blouse.  Any accessories like purse, shoes bangles are also nice to add to the outfit.  The idea is to have the color that doesn't flatter you away from your face.  If you enjoy shopping for clothes, this is the color to remember to stock up on to welcome the year of 2010.  But remember the fashion trend doesn't reflect in west coast as fast as east coast like New York.  We will not be seeing these colors until several months later.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Best High Schools- Fremont Mission District

    Last week, U.S. News posted an article about America's Best High Schools:

    "We looked at more than 21,000 public high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The following are the top 100 schools that performed the best in our three-step America’s Best High Schools ranking analysis."
    Fremont's Mission San Jose High School ranked No. 36 out of the top 100 schools list.  Among the Top Open Enrollment Schools, it ranked No. 4 on the list. The school's outstanding ranking has already brought many people to move into the Mission district area and they believe it to be even more crowded after this news spreads. There are currently 38 Valedictorian Candidates for the class of 2010. The candidates must maintain an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and remain a straight A student until their school year ends to qualify as Valedictorians at MSJHS.   These students are certainly working extremely hard to accomplish that.

    My daughter also told me a few weeks ago that her teacher said that William Hopkins Junior High School in Fremont is also voted to be the best junior high school.  How wonderful it is to live in such a nice school district! As parents, we should all give these kids the biggest round of applause because they deserve it.  They have been put under tremendous pressure and are still trying to make it as best as they could in such competitive environment and continue to maintain the school's reputation, Not only do they continue to boost up the school's ranking but they also give the City of Fremont a good reputation. Most of all, they make us proud to be their parents.  It isn't really easy to be in their position. I have the utmost respect for these students. As I was writing this, I felt like giving a big hug to my kids and wanted to tell them I do realize how hard they have worked and I am going to treat them out to a nice dinner, just to get them to relax and have fun... of course it also means that I can be lazy and skip making dinner tonight!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009


    Suede and flat boots are the trend this season. Boots with buckles are especially hot items now. I have been searching for a pair of tall boots for quite a long time. I have donated the boots that I kept at home this year because the pointed toed look is no longer in trend. I need to purchase a pair that have rounded toes. It is usually very difficult for me to find tall boots that fit me from the local mall. It isn't because the size of my feet (my size is easy to find), it's because I have wide calves. I know I might have better luck in searching for boots for big calves online than at the mall, but the idea of buying something that I have never physically seen or tried on does not thrill me. I was at Nordstrom the other day shopping for a pair of tall boots to wear with my dresses and skirts, and I was in luck that day to find these boots that fit my calves:
    Because I already own a couple of pairs of short, leather boots to wear with pants and jeans, I don't actually need another pair of short boots. However, I decided to get these short boots because they are flat and made of suede, and they are also within my price range. I am sure I can wear them for many years.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    New Trend of Color Matching - Part 4 (Accessories)

    Avoid using the exact same color twice with your accessories -Back then, the purse had to always match with your shoes, but that hasn't been the case for the past several years; It was considered old school if you did that. For example, Mimosa (orange juice color) is the color of 2009, and if you had a mimosa purse, you would not wear mimosa shoes but rather shoes of another color that go with mimosa, such as brown or blue. But the latest trend has changed from a non-mimosa family color to wearing yellow shoes but a different shade of yellow.

    Here's the most updated trend for accessories are to use a color in the same family, but not the same shade. For example, if the purse is yellow, the shoes should be in a darker yellow. Or if the blouse is pink, the shoes can be in darker pink. Following suit, if the belt is brown, the shoes should be in darker brown. The example below is displaying the different hues of brown and the colors that go with them:

    brown combo

    Again, it is best to keep maximum of 3 to 4 colors to avoid looking too busy with any outfit.

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    New Trend of Color Matching - Part 3 (Multi-Colors)

    Colors from a multicolor piece -This is the easiest, just pick up the colors you see from a multicolor piece. For example, if you're wearing a multi-colors skirt with blue, yellow, and white in it, you can wear a blouse either in blue, yellow or white to go with it. However, the other piece (in this case is the blouse ) should always be in a solid color. The examples used below are for spring and autumn looks:

    Floral skirt

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    New Trend of Color Matching - Part 2 (Contrast Colors)

    Contrast colors - An opposite color of the hue compliments each other. Take a look at this color wheel. The opposite of blue is yellow, therefore you can incorporate a member of the yellow family with your blue outfit, like orange or mustard. Any opposite color or in its own family is fine to wear together.

    Color from the same family - A few examples of this would be brown going with red,yellow going with orange, because they are in the same color family. Here are some outfit examples:


    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    New Trend of Color Matching - Part 1 (Neutral Colors)

    A friend has asked me questions about color matching schemes. After thinking it over a bit, I think the best way for me to share what I have learned is make it into several sections, so that it's easier for those who are interested to find the information they need. I will try to simplify the concepts as much as I know how with some examples I created in Polyvore.

    A lot of people find matching colors complicated. In today's trend, the habit of dressing "matchy-matchy" is old school. The new trend of matching colors is that they do not match but they go (compliment) with each other as how people now phrase it.

    Neutral colors - Black, brown, gray, white, purple are considered neutral colors. They are a stable in your closet. What that means is you will never go wrong buying these colors of clothing and have them in your closet. They go with every color. The examples below are mix and match with neutral colors:

    Neutral 1

    But check out the white and gray example here, the orange scarf brights up the white and gray outfit. If you add a red purse or other brighter color piece to any of the outfits here, it will go (compliment) with the outfit and change the vibe of the outfit. It is also best to keep only three to four colors in your outfit so that it will not look so busy to the eyes.

    Part 2 will be coming up soon!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Beautiful Backyard

    This is our backyard. Every morning I have my breakfast at this little bistro table and enjoy the fresh air, sound of birds chirping, and the beautiful scenery unfolding right in front of me. What more could I ask for?