12/21/2009

An After-Finals Weekend Journal

Jessie jots...


Wow feels so weird to be on the couch doing nothing.... my mind has completely, officially shut off over the weekend. What a great way to reset.


Here’s how it began. WARNING - LONG POST AHEAD.


Well I started out with a visit to the chiropractor to realign all my stress-out back bone, the effect from being in front of the computer for 12 hours every single day. I almost died. Dr. Iris is ever so sweet, made me feel so welcome whenever I visit. She would hold my hand and stroke my skin as if I am such a poor little helpless thing. She's so motherly to me. After catching up from a 2 month hiatus on my part, the visit proceeded with an one hour massage with Susan. I love her. Dr. Iris and staff are my saviors; they never fail to make me feel better.


My mind completely shut off right after that. Hushby and I went to a French cafe for a relaxing lunch. For her, a shrimp and mushroom linguine and for him, baked ham on a crepe with some rich sauce poured over, I don't even know what. I was so in dazed from the massage, my detail-oriented, up tight self temporarily shut off.


After that, we drove to Laguna Beach to get something which is quite out of the norm for us because we don't usually go there except on school days or when people visit us. A couple of friends who had visited told us if they live here, they would just sun bath at Laguna Beach every single day. I don't do that... I guess when I have the luxury, I prefer to sit at home and read my magazines or cook up a meal. Guess I am just a homebody. But that Saturday was exceptional, I really didn't want to do anything... I didn't want to strain my eyes to look at fonts or Facebook. So being by the beach was really the ultimate escapade for me.


The view is breathtaking. The smell of seawater always make me feel at home. The sun was unusually bright that day considering it has been gloomy the entire week. I was at peace.


A few hours later, we went back home and I couldn't withstand the daze and confuse state of mind anymore... so I took a nap. A couple of hours nap later, Hushby served me some home cook food. Chicken and some veggie with rice, simple yet satisfying. It has been weeks and I certainly miss home cook food. After that, I had a long, fun chat with miss oysterspeak. We had so much catching up, albeit the frustration of experiencing culture shock with our own country - it certainly was a great way to find out that after all, I was not the only one! Don't worry oyster, it is only temporary.


Nothing feels better than catching up with an old buddy; it's always heartwarming. Later on, Hushby and I watch TV 'til the wee hours. It really is one of those nights that I let loose - completely! It was really fun - Saturday Night Live was on, I had a great laugh. Then it was time to sleep.


Sunday morning, we got up really late. Sleeping in on Sunday is has never felt so good! I don't usually like waking up late on Sunday because we had to catch the Farmers Market that closes at noon. I love to go there on Sunday morning, even when I hadn't had breakfast. The fresh fruits and vegetables are a spectacle on its own. Not only are they organically grown, but the taste and the texture on this fruits and vegetables are so flavorful. I can't explain how we love these fresh produce so much but definitely am very lucky we don't have to survive on frozen produce anymore.


We usually spent about $20 or less in the Farmer's Market. We love to stock up on lots of fruits and vegetables, just enough to last us a week. If I know I won't be cooking that much for the week, we usually go to Trader Joe's for some of the easy and quick meals that I can just heat up and eat. However, this time is really a time to re-nourish myself for all that extra energy burn up thinking, innovating and concentrating.


We had breakfast the Mollie's Kitchen at Aliso Viejo, just seconds away from the market. I opted for a heavy brunch, so a Green Huevos Rancheros, a mexican dish of stewed pork with green sauce spoon over a fried egg was served. DELISH. For him, a potato, sausage skillet - hearty and just manly. Haha. The tab came to about $25 including tips - not too bad. That last us the whole day.


We came home and organize our freshly bought produce into the refrigerator. I usually like to wash and dry them before organizing them into clear plastic bags or chopped them up for future use but I cut myself some slack this time. And also because just looking at our own pig sty, I can see it's screaming "CLEAN ME!" to its tenants. So I decided to reserve some energy for that spring cleaning. It was getting disgusting - cat fur is everywhere, stuck to the carpet like cob webs, dust gathering on the TV and laundry is stacking up slowly but ever so quickly when you don't take note. However, before anything should start, Hushby caught Pipi and decided to groom that ball of knots. She meowed and struggled each time being held, but usually, a few minutes later, she'd lay flat and lifeless for us to go through her fluffy body, looking for matted cat fur... some little ones but some as large as a golf ball. That poor thing must have been so uncomfortable. She has been trying to let us know by sleeping at weird places and weird positions and I just realized that. Of course during grooming time, cat fur is everywhere. So much fur had been taken off, I think I could make a blanket out of it. It's really a lot of maintenance to keep this kitty clean and fluffy but looking at her being comfortable and fluff up now is worth the time invested on grooming.


Of course, after a cat fur storm, vacuuming is much needed. While Hushby vacuum, I pick up garbage, recycle papers, wash table place mats and put things back to its places. The home immediately feels fresher the instance all other miscellaneous items are gone.


We took a break, deciding what type of cookies to bake. It has been a tradition to bake cookies every Christmas. It started when Joey was around and we love to bake and give out to people as gifts. She and I used to bake when Mom prepare for the Chinese New Year celebration. I guess we just love messing around with cake batters and kneading cookie dough but nobody ever admits that. Unfortunately, this time round, Joey is not with us and so Hushby and I only have ourselves to entertain with. Hence, I made Hushby bake with me - an extra pair of hands is always appreciated. He liked the idea of baking when I asked him to help but I don't know if he really mean that or he's just pleasing me? Hmm...


While the cookie dough needed to be refrigerated, we took out the seafood produce we bought at Henry's for marinating. The lobster was on sale for only $4 each tail while the two pieces of yellow fin tuna steaks was only for $5. It was a deal for us. Hushby had always wanted to create his own seafood platter at home, so this was his chance to show it off to me. haha We marinated the lobster tail with home-grown chopped parsley, chopped garlic and a splash of olive oil. For the tuna, I made a thyme and garlic infused olive oil and pour over the steaks with a squeeze of half a lemon juice, also home-grown. In addition to that, we bought two frozen crab cakes and I just pan fried them with a spray of non-stick canola oil and was done in 4 minutes. Easy breezy.


The marinating process didn't take long while I clean up all the mess mixing the cookie doughs. At dusk, Hushby started heating up the grill, and I took out all the seafood we marinated, PLUS two romaine lettuce chopped into half for grilling as well. I also baked three sweet potatoes, always an excellent choice of side for seafood (right?) with the microwave for only 11 minutes. When they were done, so was Hushby. That's only how long it took. The only mistake he did was not having the fire strong enough to get the grill marks on the steaks but who cares, they taste superb anyway!


The result was amazing! The marinate really comes through and our sour lemon juice really added a punch to these delicious, scrumptious seafood! The lobster meat was so juicy, as opposed to being over-grilled or over-boiled as the meat gets hard, which explains why I never like lobster until I had this one! And it was just plain sweet with that chopped parsley and fire-roasted garlic... OH! to die for! It was such a fun night, I'd do again in the near future if those lobster tails are going on sale again.


Dinner was just awesome. I licked up all that lobster juice and finish my starchy root just in time for cutting up the cookie doughs into square for baking. I washed the dishes and set the chopping board out. We baked the cookies in batches, two trays at a time. I think we made about a hundred cookies on this occasion - the biggest batch I had ever done. Half of the batch was the thumbprint tart-like cookies, some filled with apricot jam and some with strawberry jam. For other half of the batch, I made an orange glaze, flavored with orange zest as well the juice for the cooled cookies to be dunked in and covered on one side with the glaze goodies.





We let the cookies sat on the dining table for the glaze to firm and the tart cookies to cool off. Then we take our turns to shower AND to watch that no one attacks the cookies while we're gone. Luckily Pip was nice, she didn't care for any of them. When the cooled cookies were ready, we split them into two pretty boxes for the designated receivers. We only have a few for ourselves - which is the weird thing with me. I love to bake but I don't eat a lot of them. But if someone else bake, I tend to overeat. Haha!


When all is done, we clean up and was ready to doze off at midnight. The cat was all hyped up, ready to play because whenever we finally settle down on the couch, she thinks we are available to play. I pity her for the lack of attention she's been getting, so I pick myself up despite being tired. Using the cellphone charger as the bait, she chased from one corner of the apartment to another. I called it a night when she started panting - her stamina is running low since we've been busy. haha poor thing.


It was a great weekend... it's so nice to slow down and smell the roses. It is indeed refreshing.


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