Sunday, July 31, 2011

Anniversary Level Up!

It's been a year since this:
(Photo by Terra Photography)

In the past 365 days, I have gained so much.  A house, 15 pounds, a housemate - but most importantly, a year's worth of love and adventure with my spouse.

So here's to the start of another year - may it be even more awesome than the last!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer of Cold Noodle: Soba

This week, we have the big grand-daddy of cold noodles: soba.
I haven't been able to find a grocer that sells the buckwheat noodles fresh, but dried isn't so bad. I love how they come wrapped in cute little pre-portioned bundles, and they are shorter than spaghetti noodles so they actually fit in my cooking pot without needing to break or bend them.
Simple, beautiful cold noodles on a plate. Though it's really supposed to be on a bamboo mat. I don't have one of those though. :P

You can add green onion to your noodles, and then dip them in the soba dipping sauce and eat! Sometimes I'll add a bit of wasabi to the soba sauce for extra bite, but I didn't have any on stock this time.  If you can't find the soba dipping sauce (soba tsuyu) at the store, you can search online for a recipe, there are plenty for the soy sauce/dashi mixture.

In addition to my green onion and dipping sauce, I added some cold cucumber and takuan for pickle sides, and some homemade turkey meatballs made with some leftovers I had lying around.  They were terribly dry, so that's probably the last time I try to make meatballs.

Any good Japanese restaurant (i.e. not just a sushi joint) should have zaru soba on the menu, and I've never had a bad dish of it! We even served it at our wedding last year. Plus, don't the noodles look healthy for you? My mom thinks they look like worms. :P

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coexisting with One Controller

Sometimes a great game comes out and there's no multi-player feature.  Sometimes it's such a must-play game that neither wants to wait for the other to finish it first.  Sometimes there is only one possible save file *cough*pokemon*cough*.

So how do you share a single player game when both you and your husband are chronic controller hogs?

Our friend E recently lent us his copy of FFXIII.  Yes, it's already an "old" release, but remember - by virtue of cheapness I rarely ever buy games over $15.  Even beloved franchise games like Final Fantasy.  Anyway, I started playing, but after a while, I had this sixth sense that someone was behind the couch, crawling towards me with itchy controller-starved fingers.  Sak wanted in.

Ten game hours later, I think we've developed a bit of a sharing strategy.  At each save point we'll switch off, fighting along the way.  He'll let me "spend the gil" - glorified shopping and skill/weapon development, while he handles all the bosses or anything else that requires quick-thinking and/or reflexes.  And so far - it's been working.  Plus we get to snack, stretch, or look up game FAQs while on our break from the controller! Win-win!

True, we still have moments now and then where one questions the other's obviously inferior battle strategy.  Or one will wonder how the other could possibly have missed that treasure orb right in front of one's face - obviously it was right there and only an idiot who needs to get an eye check would skip it. *scoff scoff*

But minor rivalry aside, it's been pretty positive.  We get to spend time together (which makes videogame playing much more enjoyable, in my opinion), and by necessity we are practicing our sharing and compromising relationship skills - which can only help in future, more important life instances where sharing needs to happen. Heh.

As for our impression of FFXIII so far? We are in agreement that Sazh is the best character so far, if only for the chocobo that lives in his afro.  Obviously that's an iron-clad combination of epic proportions.
Do you ever find it hard to share something with your significant other?  What's your strategy for sharing?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Strawberry Farm

Over the weekend, Sak and I met up with our Bible study small group (and their friends) to pick some strawberries to donate to the San Francisco City Team Ministries.

We went to Phipp's Farm in Pescadero (near Half Moon Bay), which was ridiculously cute with it's mini farm charm.

Each family in our group was supposed to bring a friend - and I am really sad to say that Sak and I are the only couple that didn't! We thought about it at the time - and our only friends in the area are from church. >.>"  So next time I am going to drive up to the City/East Bay and drag one of you unsuspecting folk with me before everyone figures out that we are awkward friendless losers. Haha!

Anyway, it was overcast that day - so picking berries was enjoyable and not a sweaty experience.

Most of the adults helped their kids pick berries, but since we are childless, Sak got his very own bucket to fill.

But then one of the kids said his berries were no good (quality control!), so he got discouraged and gave up soon.
Strawberry flower
Green berry (Which someone told Sak to eat. Don't eat them, trust me.)
Ripening berries
The farm also grew beans and other types of berries, though we only picked strawberries.  On the way in and out you pass by all the farm's chickens, geese, ducks, pheasants and even peacocks!

After a little picnic lunch, we headed back home to wash up our fruit.

We picked 27 pounds of delicious organic strawberries, and the City Team clients enjoyed it very much! Success!

Monday, July 25, 2011

DIY Silicone Stamp

I found this article on a method for making your own stamps, and was definitely intrigued as there was no carving involved.

You just need a tube of silicone caulking and something to put your stamp on, like a piece of plastic.

I have plenty of caulking lying around due to some bathroom leaks we fixed up, and a tin can lid for the base (though I definitely don't recommend it due to the sharp edges! Find some plastic instead!)

Then, just draw out the shape you want with the silicone! I chose a diglett.

A diglett. (source)

I waited a few hours for it to dry...

And instant stamp!

Definitely not professional quality, but it was painless and interesting.  I think if I had a better caulking tip (a.k.a. not a beat up and clogged one), it would have come out better.

This could also be fun for a kid craft project (if one could make sure the room was well ventilated from the caulk fumes), but mainly I see it as a cost-effective quick fix for those moments when you need a custom stamp just-right-this-very-instant.

Have you ever made a stamp before? Carving is the traditional DIY method - is it really as hard as it looks?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer of Cold Noodle: Hiyashi Chuka

Marrying a Japanese man, I've come to realize summer is synonymous with a bowl of cold noodles.You know you love them, so I'm starting (or at least attempting to start) a Friday mini-post-series on all the different kinds of cold noodle dishes to be had.

And of course I have to start with my all-time favorite: hiyashi chuka.

It's basically ramen noodles, served cold with a soy sauce/vinegar/sesame "dressing" and tons of random stuff piled on top. For my version I used packaged fresh noodles and packaged sauce (yep, that's how it goes around here), though there are recipes for chuka sauce online.  Toppings include cucumbers, carrots, tomato, microwaved egg and Sak's favorite Vienna sausage (usually this ought to be sliced ham).

They also sell this dish at our local Japanese grocery store, though I think finding your own ingredients to put on top is part of the fun of eating hiyashi chuka!

Do you have a favorite cold noodle dish? I'll say that outside of Japanese dishes - I'm still a bit of a novice, so lay on the suggestions!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


There's a big change coming to our Sak family home soon - a new addition so to speak.  And no, not the kind that barks or cries for a diaper change.

I've gone back and forth on whether I should write about it, seeing as it's a rather sensitive subject, but it'd be kind of a hassle to hide another resident for the next indefinite period of time.  Plus I need your prayers and good ideas.

Sak's brother is moving in with us.  Since he's graduated, he's leaving LA to come stay here and look for a job.

Not that I have anything against my BIL, but this is really a huge deal for me.  If a baby can wreck havoc on a relationship - I'm pretty sure a housemate can as well. I just don't want to feel uncomfortable living in my own house.  Plus Sak won't be able to spend as much time working projects with me, since I'm sure he'll want to bond with his brother (and videogames). So I'll have to share both my home and my husband! I'm not sure if I'm ready for that - I'm a pretty selfish person.

But family need is what it is. And I'm pretty sure my family doesn't have that Nicaraguan saying my co-worker keeps repeating about newly married couples living in their own home alone.

Not that I'll be newly married anymore - he's moving in on our anniversary.

(That little fact alone may be the crux of my moodiness.)

But I need to stay positive - this could turn out well. Sak will have time with his brother.  And I'll have more free time to watch girly anime?

Anyway, any tips on how I can make this a successful transition? Have you ever lived with a sibling (outside the family home, of course)? Any tips of how to find my BIL a job? He's got his degrees in biomedical engineering.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cute Random Plant

I found this in the yard the other day:

Upon closer look, it's a cute plant!

But, what is it?

Maybe you can help me figure him out? If not, I guess we'll wait and see what he grows up to be!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Canada Love

So a while ago wedding-blog buddy Tamar emailed me with a request for some art.  Her friends in Toronto were getting married, and were both into comics, so of course I was all over that!

Tamar was so sweet in giving me free-reign to do basically, uh - whatever the heck I wanted, so it was a really fun project!

Anyway, Tamar was nice enough to send me a box full of Canadian goodies in return! Nothing makes a Penga happy like a box full of edibles. Especially Canada-specialty edibles like ketchup chips and Coffee Crisp and other things I've never had before! So exciting!

But this - this takes the cake:

So ridiculously cute!!! (Thanks again, Tamar!)

Anyway, I think Sak and I will have to visit Canada someday. They have good snacks, so I'm finding out.  I've been to Vancouver once as a child, but all I really remember from that trip is the killer whale that started my killer whale phobia. Not a great memory to have.  So next time I think maybe Toronto or a different, non-killer whale city will be the choice.

Have you been to Canada?

P.S. I am 100% totally bribe-able with food and cute things in case that's not clear. Lol.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Big Happy Weasley Family

This is why I'm not normally allowed to watch movies at the theater:

Neville Longbottom is my absolute favorite Harry Potter character. The world can argue between Ron and Harry, but Neville will always be my #1. *glomps*

We went to watch the grand finale on Saturday morning, hoping to avoid some of the crowds.  Nope, no way was there any crowd-avoidance this weekend, but at least we got matinee pricing?

It was completely amazing up until the end.  In the movie's final moments, I was snort-laughing as Sak was shaking his head.  He didn't even like the ending in the book - where he described it all as "one big happy Weasley family".  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that (though the way they chose to portray it in the movie was kinda interesting).  While he may find appeal in "modern" endings, give me a "happily ever after" any day.

Anyway, I'm really happy they decided to break the last book into two movies.  It's so hard to fit all the content into one movie, and many books have their best scenes thrown on the cutting room floor due to the time limitations.  I'm hoping the trend will be to capture books to their fullest, regardless of how many movies it takes to do so.  That Twilight's last book will be a two-part movie is a good sign that this could continue of with other books in the future!

Have you seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 yet? Get on it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Down in Sak's pink man-cave, there's a little bar. Which of course meant that we probably needed some barstools.

I looked through IKEA, Target and Ross, and wasn't too interested in any of their stools. I wanted something that could spin (who doesn't love to spin in a chair?), and something with a back (so that we won't fall off while spinning, of course). Stools like that seemed to be in short supply, so I gave up on the new stuff and decided I'd just wait for the perfect thrift store find.

And wait and wait and wait. Penga-Mom, tired of waiting, found chairs like these at her local Goodwill for $16/piece.  They aren't bad - they have a back and they spin. 

But of course, we went thrifting together the day she met up with me to give me the chairs.

And I fell in love with completely different barstools.

Retro-rocket looking things of white vinyl and shiny silver, there's no way I could say no.  So I bought them at $22/chair.  Except, it happened to be 15% furniture day at Salvation Army, so they were only $18/chair. Whoo!

Penga-Mom's previous chairs went to my brother, since it matched one he already had.

Though I'm still drooling over this find - they definitely aren't in perfect condition.

Several of the screws are missing, possibly due to stripped holes?

A little elbow grease cleaning and new screw magic, and they're looking mighty fine in my opinion. Comfy too!

And in the man-cave:

I dig it. Now bring the lady a sundae.
Don't worry, I've ditched the old-lady lace runner per Sak's insistence.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Loco Moco

One thing about marrying a Hawaiian man - I've gotten used to making sure he gets his island-comfort-foods on a somewhat regular basis.  No one wants to deal with tropical homesickness, especially when one is freezing his butt off in Northern California.

Probably the easiest is Loco Moco.  It makes Sak happy, and anything it makes me happy, so it's always a win-win dish. Let's make some!

1) Plate of rice.

2) Hamburger patty on plate of rice.

3) Brown gravy on hamburger patty on plate of rice.

4) Carmelized onions on gravy on patty on plate of rice. (Optional, but Sak likes his onions.)

5) Runny egg on onions on gravy on patty on rice!

What? Whaaaat?

Fine. We'll eat some veggies too. Just to avoid blog-guilt. *audible sigh*

Have you had Loco Moco before?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anniversary Chop

Well, I can't really call it a "Post-Wedding Chop", since it's practically our anniversary at this point.

For the past few years, I've been reveling in my long locks. They made me feel like a fancy princess that maybe one day could actually make authentic Princess Leia side buns.  Plus Sak said he liked long hair better than short.

But though it looked great for the wedding, over time it started to be high maintenance, and I started getting tired of it.  Yet still I did not get a haircut, because the only person I trust with my hair is in Salinas. Since buying our home,  I just haven't been "home" lately.

But finally I reached a breaking point (summer?). After threatening to cut it all off myself, Penga-Mom made an appointment in Salinas to force me to come home and get a proper cut.


Then to a braid:

And then, chop chop!

A little cleaning up:

And the final after:

This is actually the shortest I've ever had my hair. Ever! But I like it so far I think.  It's swishy and oh-so-light!  However, occasionally I'll reach back to tug on my long hair - only to find it gone.  I must have phantom hair syndrome. Hopefully that goes away.

Sak likes it much better than he thought he would, too.  He was opposed to short hair at first, because he didn't want me looking too much like my sister.  We may share family resemblance, but there's no way I'll ever match her spunk.  She's on a whole different level, so Sak has nothing to worry about.

By the way, Mom, Sister, and Sak all got haircuts as well. 

Anyway, I've got a foot-long braid in a plastic bag, waiting to be mailed to some hair-charity. Any preferences on which one I should send it to? Hopefully someone else can fulfill their Princess Leia dreams, because ultra-long hair is not for me anymore!