MVOTD: TVXQ (Day 253)

Thanks to two bad late night decisions, TVXQ's Humanoids makes it into the November line-up. I would have reviewed it anyway, but now you get the 1 AM semi-awake review version.

The reason Humanoids needed to be reviewed? It's pretty much TVXQ's Japanese song Android, but Korean.

Things to talk about? The steam punk theme.
Is it just me, or are there a lot of clockwork gears and pocket watches flying around this music video?
There is an obvious steam punk theme going on here, so why are TVXQ still wearing metallic fabric and pastels for the third music video in a row? They're handsome guys, so give them a break. They'd look great in say...
Steam punk outfits. Yup. Enough said.
As for the video part of the video, it was okay. One of the best parts was at the beginning where Max was standing in the position you stand in when you are trying to make a weird voice. You know, when your chin touches your neck so that your voice can go deeper and softer at the same time. Yeah, that position. I also really appreciated the teleporting, the dancing. Yunho grabbing his peck (that's not your heart dearie. You've just been in a boyband too long), the breakdown, and TVXQ wearing anything that was black or suit related.
In general, a pretty good SM video.


What is Love?

... What is love? Apparently I wrote about such a topic about a year ago, because I found this in my drafts today. I feel like I was very articulate a year ago. Therefore, here it is, unedited. Just imagine a pleasantly cold day, with snow sitting softly on everything. The air is still. It is cold. Okay, now to topic.
Today I took a walk through the snow laden trees and the snow laden streets, and I pondered on love. Several years ago I confided to my friend that I didn't think I loved anyone, that I didn't even love my parents. She was astonished, and proclaimed that I was probably wrong. She was correct. I was wrong, but it took a good deal of thought and prayer to find out.

First off, my definition of love was faulty. I had assumed it was an emotion, a powerful attachment. That's how it is often described though, right? On television, love is often described as emotional, the wanting of someone or to be with someone. Television characters are willing to estrange themselves from family and friends and/or jobs in favour of their beloved. That's not the type of love we have for friends or family though.

So what is love? I think we all define love a little differently, but overall love is a multi-dimensional thing. If love were an emotion, then it would die with romance. If love were dutiful attachment, there would be no joy. If love were just a choice, then we would choose who we were attracted to. However, love is a choice. How else would long-term relationships last? Once you know everything good and everything bad about a person, are you still passionate about them? Doubtful, but you probably trust them and you probably do things for each other. You probably compromise and discuss things and argue and make-up.

According to the Greeks, there are six types of love. These include manic love, eros (erotic) love, philos (brotherly) love, agape love, and parental love. Still we are not closer to the answer.

For me, love is deep attachment which includes duty, emotional attachment, and choice. Would I be sad if the person died or went away or were angry with me? Am I willing to do special things for them? Do I intentionally spend time with them? These are tests of love.

Like a river, hearts melt from the outside in. People treating you well heal external/minor hurts, but it takes a lot longer for you to trust people after you have been deeply emotionally injured. To work towards loving people more and being able to accept their love, choose to love people a little more. Choose to be around them and be open for them to care about you.

MVOTD: Boyfriend (Day 252)

Boyfriend, the group, recently came out with what is apparently their first studio album. Maybe they had lots of mini albums before this one, because I seem to recall them having a bunch of songs...last year.  However the math works out, they named their first album the innapropriate sounding name, Janus.
Janus, which has the title track Janus, just sounds kind of like a euphemism. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who thinks so, so I just thought I'd mention it.
Janus, the song, is pretty catchy. The chorus is especially catchy, and thanks to Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi, I shall probably hear it as, "You're not a Batgirl", from now on. Since, "You're not a Batgirl", is about a dozen times more interesting and fun than, "You're not a bad girl", that particular misheard lyric only increases the appeal of the song. Good job Boyfriend on the bad pronounciation. Now your only task is to convince me that the Boyfriend twins are still around and it's not just one guy pretending to be two.
Janusthe song, had some truly good parts. Boyfriend finally all look like adults. The dancing was pretty dynamic, and, most important of all (but not actually), the costumes were good. The biggest drawback was the not very interesting plotline. The music video could have gone SM (no plotline at all) and it would have had no effect on the quality of the music video. What that means is that even though everything was well done, it was still an average music video. Sorry Boyfriend.

Emily Eveleth

I’ve always loved donuts. I know that they’re bad for you, but they’re so sugary and delicious that I find them pretty hard to resist. It doesn’t matter the kind, chocolate, fruit filled, crème filled, sprinkles, if I see I donut, I want to eat it. (Well, except for those silly glazed donuts – yawn!) I thought I understood donuts. I thought I knew them well. Then, I saw Emily Eveleth’s paintings and the donuts that I thought I’d known since childhood suddenly grew up! I had never thought of a donut as a sexual object before, but there is something so sensual and visceral about her paintings. The donuts are almost Rubenesque, more like portraits of nude women than ordinary donuts. In person, the painting are quite large in scale, which only intensifies the feeling that you’re looking at something greater than your normal, average breakfast treat. Bridging the chasm between portrait and landscape, Emily’s paintings make you look at donuts in a whole new light and I love that! ~Erin

Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Pasta

When I was pregnant with little C, I, like all expectant mothers, had my own hopes and wishes for my daughter-to-be.  I didn’t have her whole life planned out from before she even arrived though, not at all.  To this day in fact, I am, admittedly, not as organized in the child-rearing department as I ought to be. 

Nursery rhymes?  Arts and crafts time? Daily schedules?  Play dates?  I’m almost three years into motherhood and I still don’t have a handle on those things.

But anyway, those wishes…

I wished that, unlike me, she be less of a girly-girl and more of a toughie.

I wished that, unlike me, she be more physically active and athletic.

I wished that, unlike me, she be more assertive.

I can certainly say that I got all that I wished for.  Little C loves to run around, preferably barefoot, without a care for the cute outfits I put her in.  She seems to never tire, as long as a good time is to be had and more adventure calls.  I have, many times, looked with envy at kids passed out on their strollers in restaurants while their parents continued on with their evening – while I, yet again, bolt to catch up to my little one, who is already faster than I am.  She knows what she wants and is always on a mission to get just that.  She has always been entranced more with balls than books (unlike me).  Little and Big C can spend hours kicking the ball around…or until she wears her papa out (after which she shouts out to me the dreaded, “Mama, let’s play soccer!”).  Be careful what you wish for! 

We do have something in common though (aside from untamable curly hair)…an inordinate love for pasta (and pretty much all carbohydrates).

Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Pasta
  • 150-200 grams uncooked penne pasta
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 of a white onion, chopped
  • 50-70 grams slab bacon, cut into strips
  • 200-250 grams oyster mushrooms (I use 2 packs of fresh oyster mushrooms from the Ministry of Mushrooms)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup cream
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Cook the pasta as per package instructions.  Make sure to salt your pasta water.  Drain, saving a cupful of the pasta water, and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking you can start with the sauce.  Heat a skillet or wok on medium high heat.  When hot, add a couple of swirls of olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions to the hot oil and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the bacon to the pan and continue to sauté, stirring, until bacon strips are cook and some of the fat is rendered.  Don’t let it get too toasty.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add a tablespoon of water and cook until the mushrooms wilt and soften.  If the mixture gets too dry add another spoonful of water.
- When the mushrooms are soft add the 1/2 cup of the cream and stir.  Keep stirring to get all the bits – let the cream infuse with the caramelized flavors that have accumulated in the pan.  If the sauce looks to dry, add the rest of the cream.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add the cooked pasta noodles into the pan a little at a time, tossing as you do.  Once the ratio of noodles to sauce is to your preference take the pan off the heat.  You may not use all the noodles.  If the sauce gets to claggy add a bit of the pasta water to loosen.
 - Serve immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan on the side.  Serves two.

This is a simple, quick, and comforting dish.  The simple earthiness of the mushrooms, the smoky indulgence of the bacon, all enveloped in the creamy sauce is one of my favorite pasta combinations.  You can easily adjust this according to what you have on hand or what your family prefers.  Use different types of mushrooms or regular bacon instead of slab bacon, or your favorite pasta shape.  You can add chopped fresh parsley at the end or toss in some cooked peas for a little more nutrition.  I like to have mine with a fresh grating of nutmeg, but you can also add some smoked paprika or cayenne for a bit of heat.

As for all the other things above (crafts and Mother Goose and play dates…oh my!), I’ve just let them, shamefully or not, fall by the wayside.  Instead of creating a brand new extra-curricular life for my little one, I’ve decided to just incorporate her into the one we already have.  So we do market visits, and cooking and baking sessions, learning the look and smell of different vegetables, seeing where her “fishies” come from (no my dear, they don’t come in fillet form), swimming, dancing, beach-bumming, and, just with papa though, football and all manners of ball throwing/kicking action. 

In truth, I am happy I got all my wishes.  Deep down, I love that she is all those things.  I dream that as she grows up she remains this strong and spirited girl, with the confidence and clarity to continue to put on her favorite twirly dress and proclaim “I’m a princess!” even as her hair is a wild mess and her feet deplorably dirty…then run off to a rousing game of kick-the-ball-senseless.

And anyway, we’ll always have pasta!

MVOTD: Miss A (Day 251)

Yes, Miss A's I Don't Need a Man. JY Park is silent in a rare case of him not saying, "JYP" at the beginning of the song.
JY Park is amazing at shamelessly branding his artists though (remember the Wonder Girls' giant light-up JYP staircase?), so all the money in the music video world has his face on it. 
I Don't Need a Man is one of the few feminist Kpop songs I have ever heard. I respect it for saying lots of things about how to respect yourself. Things like, "I pay for everything myself.", "I won't be a slave.", and, "You have to respect me." The sad part is what lyrics like that imply; that women sell themselves to men so that men will buy them stuff. It implies that couple relationships aren't based on mutual affection but on getting something from the other person. Therefore, even while I enjoy the song, I hope for more empowering songs to come from the kingdom of Kpop. Empowering songs remind us of what we can be.
As a song, I Don't Need a Man is fairly catchy. The beat is good, and the lyrics are good. Miss A goes for a slightly masculine look and dance, and it matches because of the topic. The only annoying part is that the chorus seems to go on and on and on, even though it actually doesn't.

Good call

 Ron Swanson. The perfect antidote to blues, vegetarian meals and occasional outbreaks of poetry.

Bad call.

It stole your voice.
Hid it under a carpet.
I would have dived into the tufty, old rolls and put it back, but it wouldn't let me. 
There was something in the way that looked like me. 
Skin coloured squares peering angrily at each other and noises bouncing off uncarpeted floors.
Wait where's the carpet?
Where's the internet?
I haven't seen it. 
I can't hear you. 

I can't (be) here. You?

Baby steps

So apparently it's been 7 months since I updated this blog. We can now add this to the list of things that I can't seem to stay on top of. Let's see...taking cute pictures of my kids, eating sensibly, exercising consistently, keeping my house clean, showering regularly, not dressing like homeless bag lady....I know it's just baby steps, right? Like in that movie "What About Bob?" Just write a little bit every week.

So what have I been doing these past 7 months? As much as I would like to say that I paid $0.31 for $600 worth of groceries while wearing my size 2 pants and planning my next vacation to Arumba (you know, because I have all this money because I don't have to pay for groceries, duh), all while crafting with my perfectly behaved children and posting it on Pinterest, the reality is that I have no motivation for that kind of stuff.

Some of you may remember that I'm not a fan of Christmas. Just looking at the lights and decorations makes me feel exhausted and broke. When I think of baking holiday cookies with the kids, all I see is a sink full of dishes and sprinkles all over the floor. I don't want to put up a tree. I don't want to move an elf around my house. Bah. Humbug. Sorry folks.

What I would really like to do is drink Diet Coke and watch Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Unfortunately, I may have to start making an effort, even if it kills me, and start pretending I like the holidays for everyone's sake. Mateo has already decided that we need to keep up with the Joneses and get some lights on the house. Even though our neighbors refuse to clean up their yard or make basic repairs to their house...they have hung up hundreds of dollars worth of Christmas lights and paraphernalia. Mateo has informed me that it is "not fair" that we have not followed suit. Hmmm...maybe we can put up the tree this weekend. And maybe I can take some pictures of us doing it. Baby steps.

MacDonalds is warm and the tunes are banging.

Lisbon wore a holed black coat and shivered. I shivered too.
After scurrying from a bike friendly flatwhite-house I visited Macdonalds. Just for wifi I swear. Then work became emails and a cheeseburger became an apple pie. 3 hours means it is time to leave.

Theatre Dona Maria looked like a wedding cake and the squares were odd and empty. All the ladies in wraps and head dresses had gone. So had their bags filled with colours and who knows what else. The Ginginhas sat quietly and one of the restaurant salesmen (the one who is too tall and good looking to care about enticing customers) juggled with a menu to keep warm (or sane from inevitable boredom).

Earlier today I listened to Bomba Estero and felt small next to the santa justa elevator. Sometimes I nod to the castle as if it were looking after the city. Its madness but so are many things here, for instance being given a cinnamon stick to stir an espresso.


Sing this song and look at the photos! We've got lots of thins to be thankful for...

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M. Robin Cakes

Where wedding cakes are concerned, the old saying "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" generally holds true. There isn't much variety in the wedding cake industry. It's a traditional sweet and most bakeries don't veer too far off course in their wedding cake offerings. It is definitely a business that needs a good kick in the pants and M. Robin Cakes in Portland, Oregon, is just the bakery to do it! Instead of making run-of-the-mill wedding cakes, owner, baker, and designer Marcella Robin makes these amazing and beautiful entrement cakes, which is a European style cake also known as a torte. It is made with sponge cake and layered with a variety of creams, custards, and mousses. The cake designs are created using a jaconde, which is a decorative sponge cake. The design in not applied to the cake like frosting, but actually baked into the sponge, creating a smooth finish. It is a completely fresh approach to wedding cake design and it makes perfect sense that Marcella is not only a graduate of the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, but that she also has a bachelors degree in sculpture. She treats her cake design in much the same way as any traditional artist.

From Marcella:  I can’t always predict how a design will “read” on a cake, so a big part of what I do is testing to see whether a design is truly spongeworthy. The tests are never eaten. They get wrapped, labeled, and frozen for inspiration and archiving. Instead of a sketchbook, I have a sketch pile — of spongecake.

Needless to say, I am a huge fan. When I first saw their website, I immediately jotted down the link and wrote the words "so awesome" next to it. You can check it out for yourself, right here.

MVOTD: PSY... (Day 250)

Is there anything more ridiculous this year than Gangnam Style? Well, yes, but is there any way to make Gangnam Style more ridiculous? ...No. But is there a way to make it even more fun than it already is? Potentially. Add a little MC Hammer. Bam! Instant something or other.
I really do enjoy the collaboration. Both artists are ridiculous, and they are ridiculously entertaining together-PSY dancing MC Hammer style and MC Hammer dancing Gangnam Style. It's really enjoyable in a letting loose and allowing ridiculousness to be fun kind of way. I regret having not watched the American music awards now, just because I missed the chance to watch this live in HD.
Oh the wonder. Next time, Super Junior should collaborate with MC Hammer or PSY. Either would be really fun.


We are studying present simple. Here you've got two games to practise it!

More practise:


Marian show us this funny song:


On the fourth Thursday of November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. So on the 22nd is going to be Thanksgiving Day. Marian is talking about this great celebration in the USA. myspace graphic comments
Graphics @

Here we've got some information:



Now you can play some games:

MVOTD: Big Bang (Day 249)

I wanted to review a music video quickly today, so Big Bang's Blue it is. Blue is a ballady song in that it is slow, but it's not really a ballad. It's more just sad feeling, which is nice because that means it conveys that sad feeling. The music video consists mainly of the Big Bang members standing around in interesting scenery...while a Caucasian model who looks like a Korean Manwha character (The Queen's Knight) chases them around. 
The first minute features G-Dragon, and it is two minutes before you see a clear shot of TOP, so the music video is kind of frustrating. However, it sweetly features singing, Daesung gets decent face time, and G-Dragon's lightning jeans were nice. Also, I find it interesting when real people look just like manga/manhwa/manhua characters.
Big Bang's Blue is okay, but its caliber wouldn't defeat an SM music video.

PIE: A Hand Drawn Almanac

I love illustrated recipes. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you probably love them, too! And if you love illustrated recipes as much as I do, you’re also going to adore this new illustrated pie book from artist Elizabeth Graeber and Emily Hilliard, who writes the blog Nothing-in-the-House. The two recently joined forces to produce this fun, almanac-style book that provides different recipes for every month of the year. So, in January, you’ll find a recipe for Dark Chocolate and Vanilla-Bourbon Caramel Pie, which is a perfect dessert for those chilly winter nights, and, in July, summery berry tarts are featured. Each recipe is accompanied by stories and delightful drawings that celebrate the history of this classic dessert. PIE: A Hand Drawn Almanac is available at a discounted preorder rate of $13 via etsy. All preorders come specially packaged in a pastry bag and baker’s twine. After December 1st, the book will be available for $15 online and at various local shops in and around Washington DC. {Thanks, Emily!} ~Erin

Breakfast #62: Bacon and Eggs en cocotte

I've always been a touch shameless when it comes to adapting inflections and expressions from other cultures.  I take what I like and use it without thought to the language police that may soon come knocking at my door for blatant misuse of material that does not, rightfully, belong to me.  Sometimes, I don't even know where a certain pronunciation comes from...I just like the way it rolls off my tongue, and so, just like that, it is mine.

I know grammar teachers and English language purists may very likely be shaking their fists at me right now, but in truth, I'm happy with my choices.  I'm (looong) done with school, I know the rules, and to the best of my knowledge, I'm not truly breaking any of them.  Just being a bit of an irritating borrower :)

For example: I love the way Australians say "eski" instead of "cooler" -- so much sassier.  I also love the way both Australians and British say fillet as "fil-let" instead of "fih-ley", so I say it that way too...let's celebrate the "T" shall we?  In the same line, I always pronounce the "t" in often (oft-ten) -- in fact, I say the word "often" quite often because I just can't get enough of the way it sounds.  Same with the "l" in salmon.  I say "sal-mon", not "sa-mon" no matter how many time my mother cracks a whip at me.  I very secretly love the way the British say "maths" instead of "math"...although admittedly, I haven't mustered the guts to use it...yet.

Anyway, this is all to say that, and this is just my humble opinion, in life there are things you can't change and things you can.  The secret is knowing the difference.

Also, almost everything sounds much more sophisticated in French.

Bacon and Eggs en cocotte
  • Butter for the pan
  • 2 eggs (or, alternately, 1 egg + 1 egg yolk)
  • 2 strips of bacon, each cut into half
  • 1 teaspoon full of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of cream
  • Sea salt and pepper
- Place a small pat of butter in a ramekin or any oven proof dish that will hold 2 eggs.  Rub the butter to coat the inside of the ramekin.
- Place the bacon strips on the bottom and sides of the ramekin.  Place the cream cheese on the bottom of the ramekin, on top of the bacon, and spread to cover the whole bottom part.  Gently pour in your 2 eggs (or 1 egg and 1 yolk).  Pour your cream on top of the egg white, leaving the yolks exposed.  Top with some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Place the ramekin in a pan and pour into the pan some hot water until the water comes up to about halfway the sides of the ramekin.  Place in a pre-heated 350F oven and baked for about 15 minutes (more or less, depending on how you like your eggs cooked).  Serves one.

Whether you call this en cocotte or simply baked eggs, does not ultimately detract from its deliciousness.  It is a warm, creamy, luscious blanket of comfort.  Whether to fortify you for a busy day, or reward yourself on a bright Sunday morning for a hard week of work, it is perfection in its simplicity.  Which is really what bacon and eggs is, in my book at least...that stalwart pair you will keep coming back to no matter what bizarre diets or mystifying food trends may come.  A piece of warm toast to dunk in and make a mess with, and you are set for the mother of all therapy sessions.

So while we are cozily installed amidst our Sunday morning breakfasts, let's take a look around, our rooms and our lives, and see what we could change towards making us happier people.  It could be moving the sofa to the other end of the room, or changing the way we see the world, or simply changing the way we say the word "often".  Make sure to take a good look because there may be things lying around (our rooms or our lives) that we always thought were unchangeable...but actually are the very things ripest for change.

Seattle Chocolates: Holiday Collection

In honor of holiday season, which is now officially upon us, I wanted to share these fun new truffle bars from Seattle Chocolates. I’ll admit that it was the cute, retro-inspired wrapper that originally caught my eye, but it was the unusual flavors that really reeled me in! The collection, which is titled Baby It's Cold Outside, was inspired by song titles and lyrics of the 1950’s, and comes in five different flavors: Hot Buttered Rum, Mom’s Hot Cocoa, Candy Cane Crunch, Holiday Cheer Eggnog, and Christmas Cookie.

I shared my bars with my friends and family and they all disappeared fairy quickly, but there were two clear winners: Hot Buttered Rum, which combines toffee and a hint of rum to recreate that warm cozy feeling that you would normally get from the drink, and Candy Cane Crunch, a delightful blend of chocolate and peppermint that also has the distinct advantage of being the only dark chocolate bar in the bunch. These two also happen to be my favorites visually speaking, especially the Hot Buttered Rum, which features an old-school skier against an aqua background. You can check out the full line of holiday truffle bars, and shop online, right here. You can also click here to find a store near you.

MVOTD: TVXQ (Day 248)

TVXQ's The Way U Are. It's so amazing, I feel like it needs to be taken apart scene by scene. However, that won't work so I'll just have to describe it in agonizingly detailed detail (but not really).
 The Way U Are is an epic of a music video that could have been shot in the 90's. However, I know how old TVXQ is and that would have been impossible. The Way U Are's Cheesy 90's "special effects" include; morphing video footage - Tire to wheel, wheel to pool table, pool table to drink-, standing against a wall in slightly less than extremely baggy jeans with knees bent, weird flailing dance moves, and fun funky beat. In my head, I call it the transition from 90's American pop into what is now most definitively Korean pop. Kpop has a completely different style than American pop and in the music video you can sort of see it getting different.
The Way U Are starts off by establishing that TVXQ are bad boys. They are involved with motorcycles, gambling, pool, and alcohol. Or maybe that is lemonade. Then Jaejoong sings. The mild ramen hair is introduced (to be made bigger for 2005-2006), as are the sheer "shirts" the guys dance in. The shirts are embarassing, especially Yunho's which is obviously designed to mainly cover his nipples.
TVXQ is then established as being interested in a lady who is more badass than all of them put together. She drinks, she wins at pool, she threatens men who may or may not be Max, she plays poker, and she defeats Yunho in racing. She also doesn't wear tattoo sleeves in order to look cool. That makes her the ideal woman. They all pine a bit, but just dance in general. Lots of comfortable looking knits are used. Jaejoong's white shirt looks like it is covered in fake blood. Mickey dresses up as a 1920's gangster. It is all very surprising.
This Youtube shot shows Junsu's hair matching the red plant. If you were wondering what "ramen hair" is, Junsu's hair in this scene is ramen hair.
As a song The Way U Are is fun and kind of catchy. The dance looks like it would be fun to learn. The music video is super cheesy, and is therefore wonderful. It all goes nicely together. Good job TVXQ and SM. 

A Matter of Pride

Where upon I brag that I beat Eat Your Kimchi to the punch. But really, I posted about Younique Unit a whole six days before they did, and I said pretty much the same things. I'm pretty proud about that. I even called the "Max Time" thing and the fact that Max was not included. I generally appreciate Simon and Martina's opinion, so having my own opinion match theirs, yeah, it's a big deal.

Pretentious Word of the Week, a Return

"Last week I was shocked and amazed." Maybe more mild than that.
"Last week I was surprised and insulted." Now that's more like it.
Last week I was suprised and kind of insulted whilst watching We Bought a Zoo. It is a really cute, family oriented, heartwarming movie. However, it was obviously written, or trying to express, the urban viewpoint. The family moved nine miles out of town. They lived a whole nine miles away from the nearest Target (or 15 minutes at 60 miles per hour), and boy did they ever complain about it. Goodness gracious, fifteen minutes there and fifteen minutes back. If that were in city there would probably be no issue.
In honour of the excess with which they complained of living, "in the sticks", today we shall compare terms and their meanings for things extremely rural. The dictionary of use shall of course be Webster's Third New International Dictionary; Unabridged, and Seven Language Dictionary, Volume1: A-G and Volume 3: S-Z. I shall also use the dictionary called my mother, because of course, she is so wise.

  • The "sticks" - "to saddle with something disadvantageous or disagreeable".
    • Honestly, although there was a whole third of a page dedicated to the word "stick", there was no such definition as such as we were looking for. Probably Webster's Third is too new for it, or considered it slang and therefore not worth printing. According to my source, the phrase, "In the sticks" comes from a European explorer newly come to Canada who thought our forests looked like they were made of sticks. Therefore, "the sticks" would mean forest.
  • The "boonies" - slang for "boondocks"
  • The "schtruck" - a Low German word for "way out in the country: lost"
  • The "boondocks" - "1: rough country: dense brush: JUNGLE: 2: slang: rural backcountry: STICKS"
    • Interesting note. Apparently "boondocks" was originally a Tagalog word adopted by english army personel in the Second World War.
  • The "bush" - "FOREST, WOODS, JUNGLE; a large uncleared or uncultivated area usually scrub-covered or heavily forested."
There you have it. They all roughly mean about the same thing. Just don't let anyone know it. Not if you want to be pretentious anyway.

And while we are in the dictionary anyway, on page 252.
Bonnyclabber - "sour thick milk"
Example: "I make my bonnyclabber by putting vinegar in the milk."

The Pancake Button Book

Who doesn’t love a cute illustrated recipe? It’s fun to look at, it’s arty, you can fold it up and put it inside a button when you’re done. Wait? What? Fold it up and put it inside a button? Yep, that’s right. This tiny illustrated recipe by artist Vicki Smith is bookmarked on either side by two 1 ¼ inch buttons. Once it is unfolded it reveals an oatmeal pancake recipe, told in fourteen watercolor illustrations. Fold it back up, take it on a trip, keep it in your pocket, give it as a gift. It’s miniature and therefore delightful. Click here for more info and to purchase online.

Chocolate Crinkles

titleHow are you all holding up friends?  I hope all is well wherever you are!  Over here it been busier that ever.  Work has been, well, work.  Hopefully I haven't accumulated any more white hairs than I already have over it, because really, I honestly don't think I am blessed to be one of those people who pull off white hair with elegance and panache.  As it is, it's been 38 years and I am still trying to pull off my regular hair with elegance and panache!

The Christmas rush is also upon us.  At least over here where Christmas season starts on September 1.  I haven't even begun to think about that.  Christmas decor is out in full force every corner I turn, but ours are still tucked cozily away, blissfully unaware that they are late for the party.  This will be rectified soon.  When?  I can't promise that, but soon.

And the Christmas shopping!  Oh boy, the Christmas shopping.  Another thing that is slow out of the gates.

I've resolved, however, to try my utmost to maintain calm and enjoy this season, despite how crazy it gets over here (if you have never experienced Christmas in the Philippines I can't even begin to describe the level of crazy).  It is after all the season of joy, love, and, just as if not more importantly, of hope.  And that is something I can absolutely get behind (even if I'm not quite into carols in September, bling-bling decorations, and mass spending in a 3rd world country).

Another thing I can get behind....cookies.  And chocolate.  Never too busy for that :)

Chocolate Crinkles
(adapted from Dark Chocolate Crinkles, Yummy magazine, November 2012 issue)
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk to combine.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk.  Whisk until everything is well combined.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.
- Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour or until the dough is firm enough to handle (mine took a lot longer than an hour).
- Place confectioner's sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.  When the dough is firm enough, shape into 3/4 inch balls.  Roll in confectioner's sugar until completely coated.
- Place balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven until puffy and cracked on top, about 8 - 10 minutes.  The cookies will still look underdone and have a soft center.
- Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool you can sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar if you'd like.

These aren't the domed topped chocolate crinkles that I grew up knowing.  They baked quite flat.  The batter is very runny, and even after many hours of chilling in the fridge, is was still not firm enough to handle.  I think next time I'll leave the batter in the fridge overnight and see if that makes a difference.  What I did for this batch is scooped bits of batter out by the teaspoonful, dropped it into the confectioner's sugar, and formed it into a ball between two tablespoons, while coating it in the sugar.  The batter still spread tremendously so make sure you do not use any more that a teaspoonful, or as the recipe dictates, about a 3/4 inch ball.  Despite their flat appearance the cookies have soft, chewy, chocolate-y centers with crisp edges.  Still a good chocolate cookie!

The recipe can be found in this month's issue of Yummy magazine, which is their dessert issue.  If you have a penchant for sweets this is the issue for you: a step-by-step guide to macaron making, Nutella ice cream truffles (!!), ideas for homemade Christmas gifts, and a list of the best desserts in the city!  In my column I share my recipe for a tropical fruit crumble :)

And the Christmas shopping?  I've decided that this year I am only going to buy presents from small local businesses and self-employed people.  We have loads of talented artisans and producers out there who deserve our support!  Or I may be making some gifts myself  :)  We will see.  If you have suggestions of small local businesses whose products would make nice presents please feel free to share in the comments!

P.S. The tree will be up this hook or by crook...with or without ornaments...I hope!

MVOTD: TVXQ (Day 247)

Old TVXQ. Enough said.
Well, maybe not. Old TVXQ is cheesy, often with bad hair or costumes, and inexplicably makes you want to take out your eyes...or something like that. I probably would have been a Cassie if I had found out about them in time, because they were just that bad. Their music video Survivor, features lots and lots, and lots, of Jaejoong. Maybe it is because he is the prettiest bishounen you ever did see, or maybe it is because he is the prettiest bishounen that you ever did see and the song is for TVXQ's Japanese market...where they like bishounens. Plus he is the prettiest bishounen that you ever did see (bishounen means pretty boy).
Jaejoong dances in the front a good 80% of this music video, even when other people are doing their solos. I think that says it all, as far as how pretty he is.
Now for the music video. Using their super high-tech not actual touch screen touch screen Mac's, TVXQ is in some sort of secret base. They also dance around, sometimes in their bad boy outfits, and sometimes not. Then trouble emerges. It's an emergency, and they are stuck in their ultra secret underground secret fortress. What will they do? Answer: be calm, dance around, and be saved by themselves. It's just a nuclear bomb that will wipe out the city. No biggie.
Unfortunately, that is the entire plot of the music video. Fortunately, it is a great music video. So cheesy and wonderful. I especially like when Jaejoong shakes Jaejoong's hand.



MVOTD: Younique Unit (Day 246)

SM pulled a new one October 31st. They teamed the (in theory) best dancers of their company into one group and made a car commercial music video song thing. I'm not 100% sure on it, but I do know that Hyundai had a hand in the music video.

The combination group, formed by members of Super Junior, Super Junior-M (Yes! Canada respresented), Girls Generation, SHINee, and EXO (M and K. Yay.), is called the hard to take seriously name Younique Unit. Now, many people may think that it is unique because it does what Korean groups don't; have men and women sing and dance together. However, that is false. Anyone remember Speed? That was a male group singing with a member of T-ara. Or what about Kim Wan Seon and Yong Jun Hyeong's song Be Quiet? Or the actual group that is permanently three guys and one woman? Mixing the sexes is in fact not new, so what is younique about the SM group? I'm thinking that they are unique for SM and that's why they were named Younique Unit. They focus on rap and dance, and other than having both sexes in the group, they have both Chinese and Korean members. They also combined four of their super groups which brings up my biggest question. Why no Changmin? Changmin, or Max, of TVXQ is good at dancing. All of TVXQ is. The song Younique Unit sings is called Maxstep. All I can think of when I sing it to myself is, "Max Power!", a misquote of an Eat Your Kimchi video. Therefore, I am missing the Max of Maxstep.

As a music video, it was very SM Entertainment. They danced in several interestingly lit rooms, and soloed in various stationary sets. Interesting angles and good beat propelled a lot of the music video. As with any group that you know, you want to figure out which person dancing is which. Therefore, I was a little disappointed that the dancing shots were so far away. With most of the hair being black or dark and similarly styled, it was hard to figure out who was who. Fortunately, EXO members were dressed in shiny metallic fabric, as they have been thus far in their EXO music videos. Eunhyuk of Super Junior had a portion of hair dyed, so I could tell who he was, and Hyeyeon is a woman, so it was pretty obvious who she was. That left Henry, Taemin, and Kai to figure out. I'm still trying to get it.
Maxstep is an okay song, featuring dubstep and rap, with lots of the lyric "Max time", I mean "maxstep". As a concept, it is fun because it allows you to see people from different groups working together. As a reality though, it should also have put more of a spotlight on these particular members. Only Taemin is in a larger group than normal with everyone else coming from a group of 8 or more. Therefore, with decreased numbers, each one should have had more and better facetime, but that didn't happen. I think that may be the most disappointing thing about the music video. Opportunity knocked, but the door wasn't opened, at least not all the way.