Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year - 2014

Happy New Year - 2014

rena & noel

The rest of the vacation.

So I'm just going to document the rest of the vacation because I don't actually like blogging about the past too much - I like documenting day by day and I'm talking about stuff that went on days ago. We brought ornaments from our mad dash to Target and Katherine found a branch and we had our Christmas tree.

Edda's daily walk - weather was beautiful each day - we are in front of the Gila River, the last undammed river in the West(?)

Christmas Eve dinner - brussel sprouts and other things that were not as photogenic.

Christmas morning run with Bob. I'm so impressed - we are at 5000 ft elevation - he ran 4 miles with me at a good clip.

Christmas stollen:

Wi-fi! Streaming youtube.

Boxing day housewarming party - all the neighbors and folks who helped with the construction of the house.

Donkey rides (with the donkey RUNNING AT FULL SPEED) with the neighborhood kids - another good thing I didn't plan on, there was an 11 year old boy about a mile down the road. There were playdates EVERYDAY for Vince - most included a donkey ride.

Edda's donkey ride. She is not well camouflaged.

Last day - last hike. Edda is not impressed.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Driving to Gila.

After arriving in Albuquerque, we still had to drive another 5 hours in our rented and slightly dented Chevy Impala.  We were all a little grumpy.  Vince especially in hour 5 of the drive when Jeremy and I insisted on singing One Direction songs at the top of our lungs.

Then we inflated our air mattresses (bought last minute at Target - thank god for small miracles and last minute good decisions) and went to sleep.

As predicted, Edda woke up at 4 am, started making noise (which everyone was a very good sport about and as we all suffer a little from insomnia or not sleeping that well anyways from sleeping on the hard floor (we rotated spots on the air mattresses) was not really that big of a deal) - we all woke up to see the sunrise outside.

And got to admire the house in the morning daylight. Food! Coffee! All nice things.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Back from Gila, NM

We just got back from Katherine's off-the-grid dream house in New Mexico.  Even though I felt like this before we left:

I had the most wonderful, relaxing time.  99% of my vacations, I'm so ready to come home on the last day, but this vacation, I could have stayed out there another week easily.  Actually, the whole experience made me kind of wish I was a famous, reclusive, family-free author in which I could split my time between my apt in Brooklyn and this house in New Mexico and just write all day.   That'll just have to be another life.  I'm hoping of all the after-life scenarios that reincarnation wins out because there is simply not enough time to do all the interesting things.  I promise promise to work on my subject/verb agreement issues and really, learn, how to use, commas, in the, famous author life.

In my defense about not being excited about this vacation, I present the following pre-vacation facts: 1.  800 sq foot, 1 room house - 7 people and there is no making Edda sleep past 4:30/5 am,  2. composting toilet in which you do your business and then pour sawdust over any deposit, 3. - the mattresses that were ordered had not yet been delivered and thus we were to bring our sleeping bags/pads, 4. got a heads-up email from Katherine that the house was cold - probably 62 degrees and finally 5. the source of heat was a wood stove which I imagined I would have to guard Edda from its insanely hot surface every 15 seconds.

So it was with that lack of enthusiasm that we boarded our flight to Albuquerque.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sharp Shooter, Rena

The trophy in the top picture is the Rena's championship trophy.  At college, she was the first among many, many competing sharp shooters - all of them were boys.  Since our yard has many wild deer (to prove, on top of the glass box is an shaded antelope), she decides to use bow&arrows to hunt.  See, you bought a bow with many arrows.  Right now, the tips of those arrows are for practice only.  When ready, she will equip them with real arrow heads for hunting.

I would rather buy a deer clover-trap ($150.00 - $200.00) or build one myself using existing fence (bottom picture).

Stay tune and see what happen.

Happy Birthday to Me :)

Today, Rena and I celebrate my birthday alone at home.  Around 5:00 AM in the morning (a record?), Rena prepared me a full breakfast, after that, hand-made this beautiful and delicious orange cake.  She also hand-knitted that hat and sweater for me.  Very warm indeed.  

Noon time, Rena is going to prepare for me a tradition long-life noodle with soup as well as a chicken drumstick. However, for health reasons, I opted out one egg in the soup because I had two already in the morning.  For dinner tonight, since I like junk food and chips (potato), so we are going to "Burger King" (if open, otherwise McDonald's) with coupons (not for McDonald's) and enjoy our birthday dinner celebration there.

Btw, yesterday, After Rena's Mahjon game,  we ate out with all those old ladies.  The restaurant was packed and I had no idea that they were so many people there during X'mas eve.  But, the food was good and those ladies almost cleared all the plates.  Evidently, we did enjoy ourselves.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Photography fun.

I had a chance to borrow some photography equipment from a professional photographer friend and have a bit of fun this morning. I haven't spent a lot of time doing studio shots (actually never), I generally favor travelling light and using natural lighting and wide apertures, but somehow this weekend, everyone wanted a head shot. So much fun - I could have taken photos for hours. It's actually a lot of fun taking photos of people who want their photos taken and you can spend time just chatting and relaxing them in front of the camera. You can get photos like this:

Here's the lighting set up that I used. A single strobe with a radio from the camera.

Here's Jeremy's head shot - who is that old man?

And because I never get any photos of myself, I gave my camera to my friend who took some photos of us.

Friday, December 20, 2013

6-Star Plate Hung On the Kitchen Wall

The 6-star plate is now hung on the kitchen wall, along side with Coca Cola and Morton Salt.  Look nice.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Her 6-Star & 4 Times Cleaner

Since I am at home and there is no job prospect for me in a short while, I volunteer to cook dinner for every other week.  And washing dishes is included.  In that week, almost every morning, I wake and find a lot of plates piled-up in front of my kitchen table seat which is on the opposite side of hers.  At first, I don't know what is really going on.  After closely examining those plates, of course, they all fail the inspection by my boss.  I have to say some of them aren't too clean in her eyes apparently.  As a pay back, this morning around 5:00 AM, I did the same trick as she did to me.  Except, there is a slight deviation.  See :)

Also, since I start to wash the dishes by hands every other week, Rena keeps reminding me that the detergent lasts pretty fast, at least 4 times faster than it should be.  The other day, we had a family dinner together at a local restaurant.  I asked my son-in-law next to me, what is my reply to her about the consumption of detergent.  Without hesitation, he replied "4 Times Cleaner".  Guess what, that was exactly my reply to her.  Except I probably have to add several words to it.  It should be "Same Amount of Energy, But 4 Times Cleaner" :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Talking Too Much

Mom says that I talk too much :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gift of time.


Nursing school ended (well at least the term) on Monday night and I feel like I've been given the best gift every back - the gift of time.  This fall has been so busy, the thing that I cut out the most was socializing with and just "being there" for all my friends.  I used to take long dog walks during the day with pals, go out to lunch, meet up to go shopping, drop off stuff because they were sick - but with so many things crammed into the fall, I really let all those extra things go.  Which is a shame because there really is nothing like keeping up with someone day-to-day and not just once every three months or so.  Last night, I got to spend some time with some of my youngest friends (well, I was babysitting for their parents) and I got these amazing cookies in return!   As I showed up when all the kids were asleep, somehow I feel like I got the better end of the deal.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow days II

Snow days.


Snow days here in MD.  No school on Monday or Tuesday.  Just cold, snow and ice.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Alexandria Harmonizers


Went to Virginia today to see the Alexandria Harmonizers' annual holiday concert.  A coworker of Jeremy's (also named Jeremy) is a member - we went last year and had a great time.  So funny, festive and goofy.  And, of course, beautiful music.


All we ask from Santa is peace and love for all - <3. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Mid-week date night.


I've been trying to get Jeremy (as the primary grocery shopper) to go to the new grocery store in Germantown called Wegman's that opened three months ago and he's been reluctant to go - granted, there are at least 12 grocery stores that are closer, but really, it's no further than 15 minutes from the house.  It's a mash-up between Whole Foods and a regular grocery store - so you can get organic chicken AND honey-nut Cheerios/Oreos at the same place.

So on Thursday, I dragged him to the grocery store for date night.  We were going to eat just at the hot buffet bar at the grocery store (I know, I know, this was a really exciting date that I'd planned) - but Jeremy had a long, tiring day at work and just really wanted a beer.  So we went to the burger joint next door.  Jeremy had to do a presentation that day which required him to get all dressed up and since he's lost so much weight this year, he's just swimming in a suit that is four sizes too big.  We are about the bite the bullet and spend about $1500 for two nice suits from Brooks Brothers when they go on sale in January which is insane - but since the suit that he was wearing on date night was bought in the early 90s and still looks great (except for it being too big), I'm hoping the new suits will also last 25 years.

If money was no object and he could buy a new suit every year, I'd totally encourage him to buy a skinny suit with a vest a la Justin Timberlake.  Now if only putting on a skinny suit would enable someone to dance like JT - that would be fabulous.

Oh!  And truffles - only $1K a pound.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The last night.


I ran out of the regular kind of candles. Had to scrounge around for birthday candles to celebrate the last night.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Charging stations.

One class done, one more to go. I've been floating on air all afternoon from some compliments from my classmates.  So there you go - you know how to pull me out of a funk?  Just throw me an earnest compliment and I'll take it from there.


Less than a block from our house, they've installed an electric vehicle charging station.  Right next to our favorite pizza place, ice cream place, dry cleaner, dentist and vet.  This charging station is 17 times closer than the nearest gas station.  It's actually closer to our house than the pizza.


I like how the connection kinda looks like a gas pump. 


And here's the pizza I had for lunch - on the house today because I go there so often. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

One more week!


Semester is almost over...  One group project and one exam left.  Working on the group project in the hallway. 

Jeremy, Ben and Bob on strike!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pancake breakfast.


Sunday morning pancake breakfast.  Last day of Donald's visit.  Boo.  At least there was bacon.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lee family movie night. The night we ditch the Martins.


Donald and I took our parents (that's them in the matching red hats - not looking at the camera) out to see Gravity.  Don's a good sport, he's seen the movie twice already before - but you know, it's hard to find a movie that I know my parents will really like.  If the plot is too complicated and there are too many similar-looking characters, then they get all confused and just fall asleep. This evening, we introduced my parents to the wonders of the modern world: an unmanned movie ticket kiosk, 3-D glasses, stadium seating, why college kids spend $200 on a pair of jeans and finally, what exactly is Pride Week in San Francisco.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Going outside.


We try and spend a little time outside whenever it's the weekend or a holiday.  It's not always easy, especially when it's cold outside and people are sick (Jeremy) or like to nap (me and Edda).  (Where's Vince?  With his friends.  Somewhere - we don't really know a lot of the time.  It's a new world, where you don't exactly know every minute of the day where your child is.  I mean, we know where he is theoretically.  We just don't know know.)  I really just wanted to read all day and doze and eat leftover turkey.  But it's true that if we spend too much time in the house, we all get a little snippy at each other.  So where to go when it's cold and we are all a little worn out?  Just 20 feet outside into the backyard. 


We planted about half of the 90 daffodil bulbs.  I'm excited to see them from my office window in the spring.  Edda's happy to be outside in the picture below - her smile is a little grimace-y. 



A bunch of my mom-friends (who I've known for about 5 years or so) are so fascinated when I tell them that when Jeremy and I met in 1994, he had seven earrings and a shaved head.  They can't even imagine him like that, he's a pretty regular looking middle-aged white guy these days.  Buys his clothes from Land's End and testifies in front of Congress in suits.  It's been so hard to find photos of Jeremy in the early 90s which show off the earrings.  So finally, Kiki brought this photo from 1994, only a few months before we met.  So here it is - so young!  So young - I can't believe how long ago this was.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013.


Late Wed afternoon, after the rental tables/chairs/plates had been delivered, set up and decorated with paper accordion turkeys, Jeremy came upstairs and lay down in bed.  He looked at me and said that he was finally admitting to himself that he was getting sick.  I panicked a little.  Thirty people were coming to the house and I don't really know how to cook anything (fish sticks and spaghetti are my specialties).  Jeremy assured me that he was going to feel better - he took a  Motrin and we both went to bed at 8:15.  At 7 am, Jeremy was still in bed feeling lousy - I looked at the turkeys with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I had to call in back-up - my mom for the ham, and Eric to come to the house early and cook the turkeys for me.  Almost everything else, people brought, so Thanksgiving - food wise - was fantastic without any of the guests noticing that anything was amiss.

So Jeremy was sick and Edda was pissed.  During the early afternoon, as the guests were arriving, Edda was stomping around the room yelling her head off and crying a little bit.  So then I had to retreat upstairs with Edda to her room, so she could have some space to herself.  So we hosted Thanksgiving for 30 people where for a certain non-insubstantial stretch of time, there were no hosts actually present at the party.  I think it might have been a first for us, but with 27 people downstairs, we could leave them to their own devices I suppose.

Other than that, it was a lovely evening, we skyped with the Swedish branch of the family - here's Ben and Felix.


And our crazy re-arranged house and the food!  So much food!



@ Midnight, Mom -> Airport to Pickup Donald

Yesterday, Mom went with me to the airport to pickup Donald @midnight around 12:20 PM.  Usually, 99 out of 100, Mom would not like to venture out after 10:00 PM.  And knowing her sleeping habits as well as today's (Thanksgiving) busy schedules, I would not like her to do so either.

But, of course for her, Doris & Donald are exceptions.  After picking him up and arriving home around 01:30 AM, I went to bed right away.   Of course, that late at night, Donald didn't accept Mom's offer to cook something for him.  But, they kept talking to each other pretty long.  That was another unusual too.

This morning, I woke up for a while and they are still sleeping.  And I guess, next Monday very early morning, Mom will certainly take Donald back to the airport again when he is leaving for SF.  That would be the third "very unusual" in a row.

I am sure all the Mom in the world act the same - tiger Mom or not, doesn't matter too much.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We Have Visitor(s) or Roommate(s)?

Last night, while watching TV, we noticed some funny sound from the ceiling.  It has been on-and-off for a while.  I decided to go up to the attic and had a look.  When I was there,  in addition to the attic light, a small hand-held spot light was used, I saw a cute Raccoon stared at me.  He (she) eyes were pretty shiny.  It is really chunky - may be pregnant?  After I used sticks to choose him, he hided into a hole.  Afterward, I sealed that hole with steel wires as a temporarily fix.

For long term fix, I will be a ad hoc trapper.  I have ordered a raccoon trap and it will arrive by Friday.  I also bought some marshmallows and a tuna fish can.  Those marshmallows will be put into the can which being tied to the raccoon trap far back bottom.  And hopefully, I will trap some raccoon(s) soon.

Stay tune :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let the wild rumpus begin!


Last night, Vince asked to be woken up at 6 am this morning in order to be at school at 7:10 am to check out some in-demand books at the library (really?  there's a run on a particular title in middle school?  this isn't some sort of justin beiber concert ticket scenario).  This is a full 45 minutes earlier than he usually shows up to school.  So this morning, I dutifully go in at 6 am and shake him awake.  He takes one one-sleepy-eyed look at me and says that he's going to abandon his ambitious early plan in favor of further cultivating his impressive-looking bed head.


The thanksgiving festivities have started - Kiki showed up late this afternoon as our first house guest.  I love that it feels like a Friday and it's only Tuesday! In her honor (really, in my last minute haste), we ordered pizza which Edda loved - Edda loves all the foods.  As I'm still having difficulty recognizing my own husband after the removal of all his facial hair, I asked Kiki if she still recognized her own son.  She said that he looks just like he did in high school, just with less hair.  Well. Thank goodness someone recognizes Jeremy.



I have managed to somehow subconsciously or unconsciously sprain my ankle.  Can you tell which one? Oh, I think it's a pretty mild sprain but looking at the picture now I think it's pretty clear you can tell it's my right ankle.  I ran entirely too much last week.  Chalk it up to unabashed exuberance and totally stupidity.  And I could tell that I wore myself out on my run on Monday because it felt like I was dragging a small, whiny toddler behind me the whole way.  But I finished my run on Monday just fine (all steps sure-footed) and went home telling myself that I needed a couple of days off to just rest - but all my parts felt just fine.  So today - no running, no nothing - just eating (well, there was also working, but that's not as much fun as eating).  But by 4 pm, there was no denying that the inside of my right ankle was swollen and tender.  Did I screw it up on the last run?  Did I trip over some loose gravel in the driveway this morning?  I have no idea. Now my brother is going to totally kick my ass in the Turkey Burnoff on Saturday.  Crap.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Ruby's in the bed.


Ruby has taken to sleeping with us on our bed at night.  Her old joints are no longer very comfortable for her to rest on on our cheap non-Temperpedic-foam dog beds.  As it turns out, there is not enough room on the king-sized bed for the three of us - mainly because Ruby really stretches out length-wise or on the diagonal and there is no way to move her or ask her to scoot over another 2 inches.  Last night, it meant that I had to decamp to Edda's bed.  I know it seems illogical that I'm more comfortable sharing a twin-sized bed with Edda that a king-sized bed with Jeremy and Ruby, but that's just the way I am.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who is this man?


Jeremy shaved his goatee today. I don't recognize him. If he passed me at the mall or at the airport, I would not give him a 2nd look.  I can't stop staring at his face!  The general consensus is that he looks younger without the facial hair.

Saturday, November 23, 2013



Vince made his own biscuits today.  He has some leftover chicken pot pie from my mom's birthday party - he had eaten all the biscuits that were on top when the dish came to the table, but there was a good deal of the pot pie innards left and he wanted to have biscuits with them.  So a little measuring, a little kneading and voila! yummy biscuits.  The following photo may or may not have been a reenactment.  I try to discourage reenactments in my photos, but sometimes my preferences are not adhered to.


The final product:



I'm excited about Thanksgiving - we  are hosting this year - so far the count is 35 people.  We've rented extra tables, chairs and plates.  Two turkeys are going to be delivered by our milkman on Tuesday.  We will even have an extra visiting dog (we thought we'd have 2 extra dogs, but alas, one of the dogs is not allowed on Amtrak). And I get to hang out with my little brother for a few days!  So excited to talk to him about his latest dating adventures.  I'm so happy that I got married before the internet was invented (not exactly true, but almost true) - it all seems so much more complicated now; he tells me about all the latest dating apps where you can trade and rate prospective dates among your Facebook pals and you have 24 hours to decide whether or not you want to go out on a date.

In our last conversation, we discussed how young of a woman he could date without being it being totally gross.  Of course, there is the standard equation - "half your age + 7" - which would be 25.5 for Donald.  I guess lately he's been set up with 23 year-olds which Donald reports is really, really weird (I think for both parties).

He's also suppose to install this new-fangled thermostat in the house which you can control via the web and will learn over time your heating/cooling preferences - it's suppose to save us $.  I'm not sure I believe it, but it looks really slick.  He gave it to me for my birthday - so that was months ago - it's still sitting shrink-wrapped on my desk awaiting deployment.

Thursday, November 21, 2013



Celebrated my mom's 72nd birthday at our go-to celebration place, Founding Farmers.  I'm so please that, for at least 6 months out of the year, I live so close to my parents that we can celebrate together like this. 


We ordered way too much food and drink.  Lots of it is now sitting in the fridge waiting to become my lunch - I love leftovers.


Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Plumbing Work in Our Basement for the Bathroom of the Master Bedroom

Above pictures are the plumbing work in our basement.  After pulling concrete with meshed wires back on, I will start to work on framing part, electrical work, ducts as well as those hot & cold water pipes.  Hopefully, the master bedroom with a private bath will be ready for next Winter.