Walking through an open-air market with stalls and stalls of farmers selling their produce is a refreshing experience. Back in the day, it used to be the norm to go grocery shopping multiple times a week to get the fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. that you needed to cook with. Since many of those things wouldn’t keep, it was a constant cycle of getting food to cook it within a few days. Nowadays with all sorts of foods with preservatives and fridges and freezers to keep them suspended in time for a bit longer, the experience is totally different. But even just going to a supermarket and getting produce from their aisles is far more refreshing than grabbing a box of something pre-made. I like connecting with my food in its original form and have been buying more produce lately. Taking a bite of a fruit or vegetable in its actual form is pretty great.
There’s something fun about cooking food right at the table and eating it fresh like that. Hot pot offers a variety of broths, sauces, meats, and vegetables in whatever combinations you like. Sometimes you can cook in a giant pot as a table and sometimes you can cook in your own individual pot like this one. You can eat at your own pace and not worry about your food getting cold. It gives you control over the flavors, portions, and timing of your meal. I also like how it’s nice and toasty so I never get cold. It’s quite entertaining to go fishing for your food among all the things tumbling around and the whole experience is sort of an adventure. You can explore all sorts of cooking strategies and mix and match that with the seasonings to go on a culinary exploration. Eating hot pot is a great experience!
Awhile back I mentioned that I wanted to try Plated and then I got a comment from them offering a first-time discount. By the time I was ready to go for the offer, I had seen a Facebook promo for a “free” box (you pay shipping). Since I didn’t hear back from them when I asked what they could offer me beyond that, I decided to just try the box at that discount.
Plated is $15 per plate (serving) or $12 per plate with a monthly $10 membership fee (or as discounted as $96 for an entire year). Boxes are sent weekly unless you choose to skip (which is very easy to do) and require a minimum of 4 plates. They offer a referral link that gives 2 free plates to both the person you referred and for your next order.
I really enjoyed this dish and ended up gobbling up way more than I thought I could in one night. They’re kind of like an oversized dumpling and I love both cauliflower and spinach, so the filling was just to my taste. It was nice to have a little bit of fresh spinach on the side too, tossed in a tart dressing. It made a wonderful lunch the next day and I’d totally make them again. I might even try putting a little bit of meat in there for some more substance.
I liked this dish, but I don’t think I’d crave it. The green pepper I got was moldy and I contacted Plated’s support with no response. I used a little bit of it from the fresh parts that were still ok. This was the first time I’d ever cooked rice this way, first heating it on the stove and then sticking it in the oven. I definitely could have added more seasoning to the rice since it was rather bland.
While I did enjoy the dishes I tried, I find Plated to be higher priced without the better ingredients, recipes, or service I’d be willing to pay for. I don’t like the monthly membership fee, which inflates the price of the already more expensive dishes. I cancelled my membership before they charged me for it and don’t plan on reordering with them for the time being.
I was also put off by their poor service – at first things looked promising when they got back to me saying they’d send me a box for free to give me a little extra beyond the Facebook offer. But when I replied with my meal choices, I never heard back. And on the moldy pepper front, still not a peep from their customer service. They could have really impressed me by sending me a free box to review and being responsive to my delivery issue. If that was the case, I might have kept ordering from them.
[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]
After a long day out, my weary legs were so happy to arrive at the hotel. A nice hotel is wonderful to stay in, with comfy beds, lush towels, and all sorts of amenities. Hotels generally mean you’ve been traveling, so a hot shower and clean sheets are probably the best thing to happen for you at the end of the day. I enjoy staying at hotels because I don’t have to worry about cleaning and I get to stay in a city I normally wouldn’t. If I have more time, I like to make use of their pool, spa, or other amenities. Why not take advantage of all those features, right? It’s certainly a welcome reprieve from a tiring day out, where I can get a little peace and rest up. Waking up the next day feeling refreshed can’t be beat! Hotels are a great place to stay away from home.
In modern China, you’ll find an eclectic mix of old traditions and new lifestyles. Even as they build skyscraper after skyscraper, tucked in between those giant buildings are tiny little ones from ancient times. And even as buildings get built and land gets cleared, you might notice many large bumps of dirt scattered around. Those are the graves of our ancestors, preserved through time as the world around it changes.
It’s been 10 years since my paternal grandmother died, so our family arranged a get-together to honor her and pay our respects at her grave site. An assortment of cousins, aunts, and uncles came. Most are my grandma and grandpa’s nieces and nephews (my dad’s cousins) and their families. Our extended family branches out in ways I don’t even know and can hardly keep track of, but all that matters is that everyone who came is family.
The day started off by meeting up at my grandpa’s. Around 10:30, the male lineage of the family (my grandpa’s sons and families plus his brother’s families) went over to my great-grandparents’ grave. Through the winding streets of the city, down an alleyway, and into a small area next to homes rising around it… there you’ll find a little locked door that leads to a walled-off area just big enough for the large dirt mound that covers my dad’s grandparents. A loud burst of firecrackers set things off to announce our arrival. My uncle set up the fire and we put in stack after stack of yellow paper representing money. Ashes rose up from the flames, gently carried away by the breeze as he spoke to our ancestors, telling them who was there and that we would be visiting my grandmother afterwards. We even offered them some (fake) US dollars, burning them to send them up to the heavens for my great-grandparents to use. My uncle kow towed on behalf of all of us and we let the fire die. This was my first time visiting this grave site and I’m glad it’s been preserved despite the growth around us.
We then went out to my grandmother’s grave and the rest of the family met us there. We had 12 cars in total, carrying around 50 people. For each who could make it, there were many more who couldn’t, but it was a really good showing. My grandma is buried out in the middle of wheat fields, in a spot chosen for good feng shui. I’m not sure exactly how they know that that particular mound is hers, but the family knows.
One of the most useful items of clothing I own are jackets. I have light ones, heavy ones, thin ones, thick ones, loose ones, tight ones, cotton ones, faux leather ones, long ones, short ones, and just about everything in between. I find they are immensely useful for layering so I’m never too cold (and I get cold easily). Depending on the style, I can go super casual or dressy with them, for any situation and occasion. In the winter, I always wear at least two of them so I can bundle up against the cold as needed. In China, I’ve noticed a much more uniform look in terms of outerwear, which might be because they actually have to spend time walking in the cold. In the US you can get away with a lot more variety since you generally just need to get from your car into a building and vice versa. Or maybe there are just fewer styles available in China. I like to wear a nice pea coat on the outside, which looks professional, is long enough to keep my backside warm without riding up, and offers flexibility in how fitting or loose I want it. They’re great for warding off the cold!
Nearly five years ago, I was working in Singapore when one day I decided that I should use my left thumb to type on the space bar. After all, it wasn’t getting much use and there was a spot on the right half of my space bar that was getting worn out and shiny from all the use. Might as well even it out a bit, right? I started to train myself to use my left thumb for the next couple of weeks. At first, it really slowed me down – not only did I have to think about putting my left thumb down, I had to think about stopping my right one from coming down. All of this thinking took time, especially if I went at my normal pace typing, since my right thumb would come pounding down before my left even had a chance to react.
It took about two weeks for it to become a pretty normal adjustment for my body. I was a lot faster and pretty much typed like I had before again. By one month in, it was complete second nature to me and I didn’t even think of it. Five years down the line, I sometimes remember that I started off typing with my right thumb, but it’s pretty much a distant memory to me. I’m trying it now and I find that it slows me down and I have to stop quite a bit more. I also create more typos the moment I try to speed up. Perhaps my next challenge should be to use both thumbs, either at the same time or alternating. I like to force my brain to rewire some habits every now and then, to keep it from automating the same habits. Recently I’ve been trying to brush my teeth with my opposite (in my case, right) hand and it’s been challenging. I just don’t hold the toothbrush as well with my non-dominant hand! Still, switching over could be nice to balance out my sides, so I’ll try it.
Have you ever attempted to switch sides on a habit? You should give it a shot!
I’ve always been a big smiler. Plenty of people do a fake, closed-mouth smile when they take a picture, but I broadly grin away with a twinkle in my eyes. It comes very naturally to me and I don’t quite understand those who make the motions of smiling, but don’t look genuine at all. Is it that hard to flash a truly warm and happy smile? Maybe I’m just a happier person in general so it’s easy for me to tap into that to produce a smile that I mean. Of course there are also those people who just don’t like their smiles (but why not? All smiles are beautiful if they’re genuine). I think more so than the physical attributes of a smile is the expression and intention behind it. When you’re expressing positive emotions, it exudes that sense of goodness and that’s all that should matter. Smiles are great for lightening up a mood or sharing a brief bond with someone, but really, doesn’t it just make you happier?
I can hardly believe it’s been nearly a year since I started my 365great project. So much has changed since then that I don’t even recognize my life as it was back then versus how it is now. Did I really manage to fit all that into one year? My priorities have shifted completely and my outlook on life has drastically shifted. It’s been an interesting period of my life and these efforts have taken over my nights for a long time. I’m looking forward to having some more time at night and I wonder how things will change once I finish up the series.
I already have my next idea ready, but I’ve learned from this one that a daily challenge takes up way more time than I’d like, so I’ll try something weekly now. I know Panda is looking forward to having more time with me at night. Will it really free me up that much more? Perhaps. I’ll probably still be thinking about it but now I won’t have the self-imposed pressure to have to put something together every single day. I’ll still be posting my normal blog posts but this sort of themed post will take a backburner. Just 10 more days to go!
I always avoid eating egg yolks, but the one exception is when it comes to salted duck eggs. For whatever reason, the brining process makes the yolk a consistency that is grainier, which I enjoy. Or perhaps that’s just how duck yolks are? Whatever the case, I grew up loving these eggs, which are super salty and work well with a nice bowl of porridge. The yolk gets really oily with these when they’ve been made well and that oozing is a welcome sign of a tasty yolk. It’s one of the few stranger food items that I do eat. I’m not into crazy weird stuff and this is about as “weird” as my taste goes. I guess this falls under the “I love just about anything salted, preserved, or brined” category of preferences. Those things tend to be crunchier and of course saltier. Perfectly to my taste and I think they’re all great!