Tag Archives: chinese

For the first time

What’s the point of living through a global pandemic if you don’t learn or do some new stuff? We are finishing week 10 of self-isolation, and the COVID-19 circus is still in town. I’ve been thinking about some ‘firsts’ in our much smaller world.

I made pan-fried pork buns (sheng jian bao). These delicious buns have a juicy pork and vegetable filling, wrapped in fluffy steamed bread, and a crispy pan-fried bottom. I miss Chinatown so much, that I tried making these buns at home. Mine were ugly, looking as if they had been made by an indifferent, blind-folded donkey. Tasted delicious though.

The kids finally realised that the salt and pepper mills don’t automatically refill themselves, unlike a Hogwarts banqueting table.

I’ve been a bit anxious that people may think that I am a bat-eating virus-spreading communist*. When someone casually says to me mid-conversation that, “you just can’t trust what the Chinese say about those labs though”, I can’t concentrate on anything else they are saying from that point on. The most I can do is smile and sip my English tea. As part of my local PR campaign, I fully and publicly participated in the VE day** street party.

I cut my husband’s hair. I had no preparation or training; not even a YouTube video. He did the art direction and the bits he could reach, and I tentatively used the clippers and scissors for the rest. The haircut passed the client-facing work video call test, so it was a success!

Normally, I don’t pay much attention to the kids gaming and the rubbish that they are speaking. A few weeks ago I heard this phrase for the first time: “What an idiot. Did you see that sniper is called Rumple Foreskin***?” I was horrified, yet relieved that they didn’t think that was a cool name for a sniper.

I’ve been growing spring onions from cuttings – see pics below. I use a lot of them in Asian cooking, so this saves me from running out and having to face supermarket queues.

Yesterday, I put on a pair of skinny jeans for the first time since the beginning of March. I’ve been in massive wide-leg or comfy straight-leg for months now. I’m questioning the value of skinny jeans. Feels as if they are constantly shouting out various body parts as they constrict around them – Knees! Calves! Waist! Thighs! Bum! Can’t believe that I used to wear these all the time…

*I’m not.
**This year was the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, marking the the end of World War II.
***Am assuming this was Inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, a well-known German children’s fairytale.

Studio Arhoj 'ghost' looking after the  spring onions.

Positive pandemic perspectives

Have been housebound and locked down in some form for nearly a month now. It’s become normal surprisingly quickly, and we’ve settled in to our new narrow world.

It’s not all bad.

For my lady friends

  • With all that handwashing, this is your chance to try many handcreams. Why not have a different one in every room?
  • Who needs make-up when you’re not leaving the house! Save time and let your skin relax. Note: If you are sitting in a particularly sunny room, then do keep up the broad spectrum SPF. You may not get sunburn (UVB is blocked by glass) but you will still get wrinkles (75% of UVA passes through …)
  • No-one can stop you using a foot mask while you’re on a conference call. Get your feet summer sandal-friendly!

For my parental friends

  • The kids are seeing us working. This is proper role modelling, although mine must think that I work in a call centre, as I am mostly on the phone and toggling (un)mute.
  • We can plan and research all sorts of educational craft projects and inspiring virtual experiences. It doesn’t matter if we never actually start them … at least we get Parental Points for thinking about it.
  • We legitimately need ALL of the television – Amazon Prime and Netflix were lonely until Disney Plus came along to keep us company.

For my clever friends

  • Data, data, everywhere… Am obsessed and alarmed by charts and curves. Is it time to join the Infographics Appreciation Society?
  • On social media, the scientists and analysts and medical professionals and journalists are actually more interesting than celebs and influencers. I’ve rediscovered the point of Twitter.
  • There is enough fact-checking of slightly suspicious warnings and statistics to keep us constantly busy and vigilant. On my local street WhatsApp group, I don’t even have time to rise up to a foaming rage against fake news, before the community has de-hoaxed us.

For my Chinese/Asian friends

  • Because we’re at home, we have reverted back to having one personally identifiable mug to drink water out of for the entire day. None of those inefficient  and impractical water glasses that you use once and put in the dishwasher.
  • My kids are learning to understand some Cantonese again. This is mostly me ordering them to do housework, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Our respect of leftovers and fear of food waste are super powers. No one is laughing at my cupboards of food storage containers now.

Lion toy in chair wearing face mask.

Local lion demonstrating realxed social distancing and wearing a protective face mask.

New year guilt-free information cleanse

It’s Chinese New Year and it’s time to celebrate the last year, relax with family, and look ahead to the next year.

On reflection, it turns out that my husband is a very wise man who has solid advice for me, despite being part of the white male liberal urban middle-class capitalist patriarchy. (Just joking. Mostly. Luv u!!)

On politics: “We’ll be OK.”

The shuddering , sliding and shifting of world politics has been consistently  concerning for me. But husband has taken a practical view that we will survive it, and that despair is pointless.

In the more eloquent words of author and activist Rebecca Solnit: “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and in that spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act.” Hope in the dark

What I’m doing about it

I’m keeping the hope, but still reading the news.

We are reaching information fatigue. Last week, we couldn’t face any more news, opinions or analysis. I want a little sip of information, just to keep my brain hydrated, but the newspapers, TV and websites are coming at me with a water cannon of THINGS I NEED TO KNOW.

The ‘clean eating’ fad is ridiculous and dangerous, so I’m on an ‘information cleanse’ – applying some conscious filters to my news and information. I’m avoiding meat-based shouting opinions, fake news pumped full of refined sugar and dairy-laden conspiracy stories.

red heart nope pin

Do you see hope or nope?

 

On guilt: “Stop wasting your time feeling guilty.”

Guilt. Gilt. Only one letter difference and only one is shiny.

Husband is very quick to smack down guilt. He has a more practical sense of how we need to motivate ourselves.

What I’m doing about it

Less guilty and more gilt-y.

After the inauguration (in-anger-ation?) and women’s march, I was on Twitter, scrolling and shaking my head, contributing to the aforementioned ‘information fatigue’.

Kristina Halvorsen is one of my content strategy heroes, and I follow her on Twitter.

Kristina: My 12yo son is racked with white man’s guilt. Wants to help the world but doesn’t want to be seen as a “white savior”. Parenting is hard.

Me: I don’t want my kids to be driven by guilt alone. Maybe grateful to be in a position to make a difference?  Responsible & aware & kind?

Kristina: ME TOO

Me: I’ve got a calming facemask on & starting to read Hope in the dark. Rebecca Solnit. Want to pass hope on to kids. And skincare.

Special thanks to Sam for the recommended reading.

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

To all the ladies in the house   Mother’s Day had serious expectations heaped upon it, such as handmade cards and someone else replacing the toilet paper for once. International Women’s Day? Just the same old fluff – gender parity, equal opportunities, more women in leadership, less violence blah blah.

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU   Dear kids, Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote. Love, mum

 

 

Lego is blog superfood

I’ve been suffering from an extreme case of blog procrastination. If this blog was a small child, well-meaning strangers would frown at its unsuitable footwear and thin arms.

But hooray! All the planets are aligned, the Interweb is working, and my hands are warm enough to type.

Quite a few people stumble here by searching for Lego.  So to feed up my poor malnourished blog, here are some amusing Lego pictures. Does anyone ever get tired of cute Lego? Not me.

Lego minifig crocodile man

Grrrr. No idea what this Lego minifig is. Some poor man trapped in a crocodile suit?

Lego minifig hippy

We had a hard time trying to describe what ‘a hippy’ was to the kids.

Proof that I was in New York

I did make an ambitious claim several weeks ago that I would put up some pictures from my NY mini-break. Here they are:

New York Chinatown signs

The ancient Chinese culture and traditions on display in Chinatown.

New York September 11 memorial

The 9/11 memorial at sunset.

New York croissant cat

It’s a croissant cat!!

New York Central park

Central Park. It looks fake, doesn’t it? But it really was this pretty…

New York Met elephant vase

At The Met I found out that mid-18th century French porcelain could be terrifying.

So, the blog child-beast has been fed. And I can happily procrastinate away for another short while.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Lego love for all the family. It really really hurts when I step on hard, sharp, pointy bits of Lego. I suffer through strange foot indentations because  Lego is wonderful.

Too lazy for words. Greetings from New York. I’ve just popped over for a high-end mini-break with husband.

First World Problems

I live in the First World and I have problems. Some people call this ‘White Whine’, but as I’m not technically white, I prefer the term ‘First World Problems’.

I’ve just returned from a week in the English countryside, where we had a lot of rain, and very little Internet access.

I found small transient pockets of 3G as we whizzed through towns. As husband drove, I frantically updated and refreshed as many mobile apps as possible. Then I had to put down the phones as we swerved through green hedge-lined tunnels of car-sickness.

Getting a decent Internet connection was a complete pain in the bum. So we ate a wide and varied selection of fried fish and fried potatoes, moaned about the weather, and watched Jubilee TV.

Here is my current list of other First World Problems:

  • I don’t buy yoghurt because there are too many choices, and anyway, it’s just a pretend-healthy tub of sugar + dairy nonsense.
  • The cafés at garden centres have uncomfortable seating.
  • My mobile phone screen is always smeared with ear grease.
  • I have too many plastic shopping bags, but I don’t want to put them in the rubbish because they will enter the waterways and strangle dolphins.
  • I still don’t know which of my relatives I should add to Facebook. I think mum has stopped trying to Friend me.
  • I am a little bit embarrassed when my (Chinese) parents bring their own toothpicks to (non-Chinese) restaurants, and pick their teeth after a meal.
  • I don’t have time to read Vanity Fair properly anymore.
  • My Kindle now looks out of date and unfashionable.
  • I still don’t let my kids to wear Crocs in public. Unless we are near a large body of water.
  • I don’t know what threadcount my sheets are.
  • I read blogs written by people who are more creative, funny, rich, stylish and/or youthful than me. It makes me feel inadequate.

Happy Chinese Australian New Day

Chinese New Year and Australia Day completely passed me by this year. Instead, we surrounded ourselves with cheese, mountains and snow in France. The most Chinese thing I did was make everyone take their shoes off when they came in to the apartment.

I hardly tweeted or updated FB at all whilst away. The more fun I’m having, the less likely I am to post about it. My online life looks quite dull, even though I’m doing lots.

Stupid gloves beat my smartphone

The colder it gets, I’m also less likely to be updating anything. Several months in to London winter, I still keep stabbing at my phone with my useless gloved fingers.

Useful : MUJI sell touchscreen conductive gloves. I have tried several times to buy these, but the staff tell me there is a waiting list!?

Useless : I found a fingerless gloves website that includes terrible ‘fingerless fiction’. Since it’s 2012, why not read their Olympic Gold story?

Charming : Pictures of lonely gloves at our park.

Happy Australia Day

As I missed celebrating Australia Day, here are some Oz-themed pictures…

Bruce street

A sensible Australian street name. I love the way it's written in the footpath concrete..

sun hat with fish

Amusing sun hats. This was one of my favourites.

australian shaped  pizza

My friend recently made me a pizza. OMG - it's in the shape of Australia!

australian stickers

Some of my vintage 1970s Australian stickers.

bbq meat

I took all that lightly charred meat for granted ...