Corona update week 4 or 400 who knows?

So, here we are in 2020- in lockdown and safe at home- but slightly bored. I can report that after 4 weeks in lockdown I have accomplished a few things, but not nearly as much as the Instagram Influencers and Motivated Mothers circulating around the internet. I feel both inadequate and accomplished at the same time.

Life skills learned: 1- thanks to a dumpling class taught by my colleague in Shanghai.  I have also learned that I love dumplings and that they’re extremely relaxing to make.   The best part is that Gary does not like dumplings and I’ve gotten to eat every single one that I Made and they are yummy!

New cooking fad appliances bought:  1 – well 2—maybe 3 if you include the Soda Stream birthday gift.  The only one I’ve bought is the Inova sous vide precision cooker, (and the vacuum sealer to go with it.)  I can already tell it’s going to be life changing for 6 months and then sit in the drawer untouched most of the year.  It’s pretty cool though- I’ve already made carrots and asparagus.  Gary was unimpressed.  They tasted great but they were pretty much just normal carrots and normal asparagus.  So, he doesn’t really get what all the fuss is about.

Hobbies attempted:  3- But so far only 1 has been successful and even that is early days.  Apparently I’ve started a garden from seed- I think the broccoli is growing and at least one or two other plants.  I had very low expectations so didn’t bother to mark what is growing where or read the instructions on how to grow it.  I just stuck the seeds in dirt and the dirt in  a pot and now there are green things growing.  Maybe broccoli or lettuce or tomatoes?  Who knows?  It’s like a quarantine wheel of plant fortunes.

So that led me to think about building a planter box for my new victory garden of broccoli and tomatoes- hopefully.  Luckily, Gary talked me out of DIY-ing it and building it myself.  Actually, it was common sense that made me realize it was a bad idea.  That, and asking Gary whether we had a saw and what pilot holes are, knowing full well that I have no business near a saw- and the likelihood of me putting together anything without instructions is low.  So I just ordered a planter box- which is probably a huge mistake since I have no idea how to garden or even what size I need.  How much dirt goes into a planter box and then what do you do next?

And the third hobby that I have attempted is needlepoint/cross stitch-  well I ordered a kit, which wasn’t in stock, and I’ve ordered two more that haven’t arrived.  By the time they come this lockdown will be over and I’m sure they will both be filed away in my drawer of broken dreams. 

I  would love to say that I’m using my corona-cation time wisely but I’m not and it’s not really a vacation.  I’m working full time, and even though I’m saving time commuting and putting on makeup and getting dressed, I still don’t quite have the free time that other people seem to to learn hobbies or organise their lives I’m not making clever videos or memes or macrame-ing anything or sewing a mask or even Kondo-ing my cabinets.  I’m watching Netflix and still have laundry I haven’t folded and books I’m meaning to read.   Not much has changed- it feels like we’ve been stuck on Tuesday for 4 weeks now.  I think I’ll be a bit sad when this is all Over if I have nothing to show for it- or maybe I’ll just have everyone over for sous vide broccoli and dumplings.

The best banana bread for the worst year…

So, 2020 is turning out to be a bit….well, let’s be honest it’s turning out to be a hard year to describe without swearing.  Not sure anyone, except makers of masks and pyjama pants would put it down as “the best year ever”.  To be fair, it started off with a lot of promise and optimism, but somewhere around March things took a dramatic turn for the worse.

However, there have been two upsides of 2020- (not including living in my pyjama pants and not wearing makeup)

1, I’ve been too worried about the entire world falling apart economically, socially, and virally (is that the right word?) to worry about turning 40 in 2 days.  It’s pretty hard to throw a pity party for turning 40 (or any party at all actually) when 2 billion people or more are locked in their houses and thousands of people are dying every day.

2,  I finally made Chrissy Teigan’s banana bread recipe.  And it is literally one of the best banana breads/cakes/baked items I’ve ever tasted.  The batter was so good I was eating it with a spoon.  I understand why twitter went nuts for this- it is delicious on so many different levels.  I have to say I’m not a banana bread person- I don’t normally make it, I don’t order it in cafes and if someone brings it in to work, I may or may not try it to be polite- because banana bread is a bit boring.  This has changed my tune.  This banana bread is next level, and exactly what my 2020, about to turn 40 self needed.  It definitely blurs the line between cake and banana bread, but the fact that it’s called Banana Bread in the recipe means I don’t feel guilty for eating it for breakfast.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Cake for Breakfast but this is Banana Bread which is a totally ok breakfast food.   Plus, it’s easy to make.  The hardest part was trying to save 6 ripe bananas from the banana eaters in my house.    It was so easy and so delicious, that it has saved 2020 from being the worst year ever.  Well- maybe not completely but discovering this little gem has certainly put a smile on our faces and something good in our bellies.

Thank you Chrissy for saving 2020.

Singapore- the food capital of the world!

Right now, I’m in Singapore for work. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t come here sooner! It is a foodie paradise. Everywhere you look there are beautiful displays of food, amazing smells and intriguing things to taste. Every type of cuisine, every type of dish.

In a perfect world, I would come back for a week and only pack stretchy pants and spend the week walking around and eating.

Chilli crab, kopi, Kaya toast, chicken rice….. and those are just a few of the things I’ve tried and loved.

I had heard amazing things about Singapore and I was not disappointed! Plus the whole city is decorated for Lunar New Year which gives it a festive feel!

We even did a traditional Long Hey ceremony to bring prosperity and happiness in the new year.

Enjoy the photos and video- and book your flight to Singapore soon!

Tradition

I find it hard to believe that I haven’t written about this before- but I don’t think I have. Maybe it’s too personal. Too much a part of myself and my DNA.

It’s My Mother’s, well Grandmother’s- and possibly Great Grandmother’s Corn Pudding. I have no idea where it comes from, my mother has recipe on an index card, I have it in an email from 2003 and it 100% would not be Thanksgiving without.

History of Genocide aside, Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday. It revolves around food and friends and family and it’s the best. Once you get past the fact that it didn’t turn out so well for the Native Americans after the First year, it’s a holiday that encourages us all to quietly reflect on life and love, what brings us together, what’s brought us through the last year.

I have a lot to be thankful for, I’m very fortunate and lucky to be able to say that most years. Practicing gratitude and thankfulness is really important, and it’s great that we celebrate that on Thanksgiving. But let’s be honest here kids, we’re here for the food!

And my all time, number 1 favorite Thanksgiving good is Corn Pudding. The Gulliver-Giddings-Williamson family recipe passed down possibly only from 1975 or maybe from 1875- who knows- but it’s not Thanksgiving without. My mother has shared it with her best friends, I’ve shared it with mine and it’s always a crowd favorite. And for me, it’s what family gatherings are all about. Not just eating it on the day, but hoping there are leftovers (there rarely are) and eating it the next day. See, we only make it once, maybe twice a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas- so it reminds me of family, holidays, the festive season, my mother, my grandmother- in short love. Maybe that’s why it tastes so good. There’s 100 years and generations of love in it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving where ever and how ever you celebrate it this year.

Good news is coming…

So far 2019 has been a really good year and it’s not over yet. Two more exciting things are on the horizon that I’m looking forward to sharing more details on. It’s been a year full of growth, change, transformation and fun- and it’s not over yet! Watch this space….

I wasn’t prepared…

I wasn’t prepared for motherhood.

It sounds funny to say it almost 3 years in but I wasn’t prepared. I was ready but not prepared.

I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel to be so needed by someone or how hurt I would be when he rejects me- “not Mommy, just Daddy” stings every time.

I wasn’t prepared for how easy it is to pick out parent child combinations at the pool or at the park. I never saw it before — I don’t think I look like my parents or my child yet I can always pick out the features of other parent/child pairs that look alike. Is it their face? Their walk? Their style of dress? What makes it so easy to pair? Is it nature, nurture or destiny?

I wasn’t prepared for seeing my own parents’ face reflected back at me at times, diluted and much smaller but unmistakenly there.

I wasn’t prepared for the joy of watching this tiny person complete the most routine tasks- or learn things which I can’t remember not knowing. The first time he said his full name, I was so shocked- not just that he said it but by how proud I was of him.

I had no idea that I could be so thrilled by someone telling me that it was time to go to the potty- and yet here we are.

But what I really wasn’t prepared for was the feeling that it’s all going too fast. I’ve never wanted to stop moments in time before but more and more often I do. Every time I get slobbery kisses or a little body curling into my lap, I want everything to stop so I can hold onto

This moment. Right now. These little fingers, this little head full of curls. For the first time, I look at pictures and don’t recognize the infant that came before. I remember him but he hardly seems like the same person. The tiny helpless baby has given way to the strong, confident active little boy who loves the Lion King and Cars and has friends and climbs things. I don’t miss the baby but it makes me realize that this little boy will one day be unrecognizable too. I wasn’t prepared to want him to freeze and stay like this forever. I mean who wants to hang out with a baby all the time- they’re so boring. This kid is fun- like super fun and funny and interesting. I don’t think I was prepared for how interesting he would be. I knew genetically the odds were leaning towards interesting and funny and charming but I wasn’t prepared for how it would actually be on a day to day basis.

I wasn’t prepared for so much, but it’s amazing. I know every parent thinks there kid is awesome and amazing, but I really wasn’t prepared for how awesome mine would actually be.

Change, evolve, transform

Change. Transformation. 2 words that are both totally overused and also totally sum up so much of life. So many songs written about it, so many ways to describe it- and don’t get me started on how many businesses are doing “transformation” programs.

But what is it really?

Cooking is transformation. Growing up is transformation. Living is transformation. Everything is constantly changing so how can we point to one single experience or event or project as more important than the rest. What is transformative vs what is just life?

We can’t really, but at the same time, I can look back on the last few months and say I’m a different person than I was 12 months ago. Not fundamentally different but different. Different priorities, different habits, different goals, different outlook.

2019 has been a year filled with change. But it’s not change just for changes sake- it’s change moving toward a goal- so many that makes it a transformative year or maybe we’re just having transformative experiences. Or maybe there have just been so many changes that everything feels a bit different.

We bought a house- we’ve made some minor changes to the house and to our lifestyle but it hasn’t been a transformation.

In buying a house, we left the neighborhood we spent almost 9 years living in- and moved 15 minutes away. Again, far enough away to change habits but not far enough away to disrupt our lives dramatically.

In changing neighborhoods, we’ve had to change how we get to work, where we eat, when we shop- not really but we lost our corner shop where we could pick up milk and miscellaneous forgotten items.

One of us has a new job but it was a promotion not a radical change of career.

We’ve changed lots of habits and lots of routines because of our new location, but that’s just being practical and doing what makes sense logistically.

We’ve watched our baby change into a big boy before our very eyes. But he’s not transformed, he’s evolving and growing. He’s a talker, a swimmer, an independent 2 1/2 year old with his own ideas.

There are more changes ahead of us, more steps towards the next part of our lives. The Runner and I are less than 12 months away from turning 40- and it feels like we’re evolving and changing too.

In the past year, I’ve read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar quite a few things. It strikes me how this very basic and very simple book aimed at infants teaches such a powerful lesson about change and about transformation. I won’t ruin it for you if you can’t remember the end- but the short version is that the caterpillar eats and eats (healthy food during the week and junk food on the weekend- much like most people I know) and at the end is transformed into a butterfly.

I feel like this is that year for me- one of changing and transforming into a butterfly. It’s been a slow process but I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. More than likely it’s an oncoming train because change never stops- or as my grandmother so eloquently used to say, “life is a process of change”. Life isn’t just that though, life is transformation. Day by day, step by step.