Sunday, August 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

I meant to post this last night, but fall asleep before hitting the publish button...

My baby turned thirteen years old. She still runs around and loves long walks.

Her face has got more gray. The silly face looks more silly. Even paws have been turning gray. No matter how old she is, the most important to mention is that she brings us smiles everyday.

I don't know if she knew today was her birthday or not. She woke me up much earlier than usual. I gave her belly rubs and tried to go back to sleep. Usually, the belly rub is a snooze button to her. That didn't work this morning. She told me to get up. We went out the door before 7:00. She picked a short course though she usually loves to go to a long course in weekends. She had a breakfast, went back out, then propped on the grass and took naps. That was her day just like a normal weekend.

In the afternoon, she went for a ride to her favorite place, Barkery, the dog bakery. They have all sorts of yummy treats. She sniffed every single thing in the store. She even tried to sneak into the kitchen. "Are there any treats fresh from the oven?" They offer two healthy dog food samples. We picked two for Frankie. She got some treats there. "Marilyn, which cookie do you want? Do you want a pupcake? Apple pie? Pizza?" She was too busy checking out other shelves. There were two kinds of birthday cake in the glass case. "Marilyn, this is perfect!" We picked up her birthday cake instead of treats. The half of the cake goes to Sammy and Kenya, Olga's dogs. Kenya thinks Marilyn is her BFF. Marilyn... loves Olga better than Kenya.

While Chad and Marilyn were grilling dinner outside, Nick and Amanda, Shirley's grand children, brought some steak tips for her birthday. Of course, Marilyn chowed them down with a great excitement.

She got a quarter of the cake. It didn't last long at all. She took care of all crumbs. The plate looked as if it just came out from a dish washer after the cake was gone. Another quarter is for tomorrow.

After all the excitement...

It seems she had a good birthday.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Aunt Bev makes the best pickles in the world. It’s not overpowered by vinegar. It got a great balance of dill and garlic flavors with a nice crunchy texture... It’s heavenly good. In fact, her grand children love them, too. Once they find out she made pickles, they sneak into her basement and snack them out of her crocks. She just tells them to make sure their hands are clean when they put their hands into the crocks. One of them asked her pickles for his graduation party. They are just that good.

When she found out I love her pickles, she gave me her recipe. I'd just put off to try it making bunch of excuses. I guess, I was so afraid of getting disappointed to find out my pickles wouldn’t be as good as hers even with her recipe.

One time, she gave us a jar of pickles. I returned her the jar filled with New Englandy Christmas ornaments—she is in Ohio. Of course, sending back the jar was "hint, hint." Uncle Dan told her that I was hinting something. Then she sent us this special pickle with a newspaper article about it. Since then, this pickle celebrates the holiday with us every year.

According to the tradition, it's supposed to be hidden in a Christmas tree, and you go find it. But, ours is always at the best visible spot on a tree. We show off this cute pickle.

From her recipe, I learned a new thing... canning salt. I’d never heard such thing in my life. I googled it.

Canning salt = Pickling salt
It doesn’t contain anti-caking substance.

I translated this to "it’s purer than regular salt". My next question was where I can get it. This question was easily solved. According to Google, Walmart has one. Probably, any grocery stores carry one. But, I’d never recognized one. I got the last one on the shelf. My lucky day!

I wanted to use dills from my garden, but they didn’t seem to be enough. Oh well, I had to get some at a grocery store. I thought there is a pickling cucumber for pickles, but didn’t see any at the store. So, baby cucumbers were picked instead.

I prepped brine. Then, I noticed that I didn’t have a crock. How could I forget about this? I have some vintage ones from a flea market, but I was not comfortable to use them. You never know what it was used for. I also wanted a lid to fit a crock. As far as I looked around hardware stores, a crock pot usually doesn’t have a lid. Why? They don't care dusts and bugs get into a crock? Target has glass jars with lids. I got a one-gallon jar while waiting the brine got cool down.

After silly running around, the layers were made with dills, cucumbers and garlics in the jar. Then, the brine was poured over them, and it got a hat of a small plate. The jar was placed in the basement.

Five days later, I took out some cucumbers from the jar. Chad had the first bite. "The center is very soft." That was his first words. I had a bite. The center was soft, which makes sense the seeds part is the softest in a cucumber, but it was too soft. I noticed it was missing crunchiness. It was not as crunchy as Aunt Bev's. My first pickles were not a satisfied result. Anne at work told me the difference between a regular cucumber and a pickling cucumber. I learned it is a matter that which cucumber to pickle. It's got to be a pickling cucumber. That's how I got "Pickles 101."

This week, pickling cucumbers are on sale at the grocery store. I decided to try again. I picked firm ones. They are just like the Christmas ornament—short and chunky.

This time, I use a two-gallon jar. Dill, cucumbers and garlics are in layers. The brine was poured to the jar. The last time, everything looked good at this point. Let's see how they turn out in five days.

Friday, August 10, 2012



結論から言うとぜんぜんすごいことではないです。日本でお仕事するのと同じ。業界によっては日本で就職するよりずっと簡単なように思えます。私のようにIT業界に働 く分には学歴も問わないって感じ。エンジニア系の職については同じことが当てはまるようです。用は仕事ができるかどうかってこと。どんなに学歴があっても仕事ができるできないは別問題でしょ?企業が人を雇うのは業績を上げるための仕事を片付けたいから。もしその人がその仕事を完了できる知識と能力があれば、雇用者側からしてみれば誰でも構わないわけです。












Sunday, August 5, 2012


Marilyn and I picked these at the morning walk. Lace flowers are one of my favorite wild flowers in summer. They are just being wherever they are. You don't realize how gorgeous they are until they are separated from the nature.

Sunday morning is always peaceful. The air is cool and refreshing. Marilyn wakes up at sunrise, then comes to me to wake me up. Naturally, we get up early spring and summer. "The sun is out. Let's go for a walk!" Once she gets hooked on the leash, she picks a route. She knows the neighborhood. She has some different routes and picks one depending on her mood. Her legs move rhythmically. Her tail goes left to right, then right to left slowly. She is happy. When we get to the high school, she gets unleashed. She sniffs and checks things around here and there. I walk my own pace. Naturally, I tend to be ahead of her. But, she knows I'm waiting for her at some points in the course. Once she notices that she is too behind, she walks fast looking at my face from the distance as if she is saying "I'm coming!" When I'm stuck somewhere staring at flowers, bunnies or chipmunks, she is facing toward me and waiting for me, no barking. A moment of "we're connected". She is my precious puppy.

When we walk in the door, the house smells coffee Chad made. Today was not an exception.

While I was having coffee at the porch, she was recovering from the morning walk. A nap after a walk has been a part of her routine lately. Still, the twelve-years-old enjoys the forty five minutes to one hour walk. This is something she looks forward to. I just hope it stays this way as long as possible.

The sun was out. Birds were singing. So relaxing... It was just how Sunday is supposed to be. I like spending time here watching activities in the yard. Birds and squirrels are having breakfast. Sometimes, I see chipmunks pop up between grass at the bird feeder pole. That just makes me smile. The porch is a perfect place to be for weekend mornings. I wish I could do this everyday.

Birds come and go all day. The feeders are quite busy spots. It already past 9:00. I guess 9:00 is for sparrows. I usually see a lot of gold finches and house finches before 8:00. Today, I saw a blue jay munching seeds on the ground. The feeders were filled yesterday evening. A half of it is already gone. I've been filling them everyday. I thought birds would prefer fresh food in nature such as berries and bugs in summer, but easy food seems to be more attractive to them.

I can spend a whole day sipping coffee at the porch, but that's not how I want to spend a day. There are more spots to check in the yard. I start with my herb garden. In this little space, I always find something new. Sage and oregano are going crazy. I wish tomatoes and basil are like them.

Our first tomatoes in the year. Even more exciting about them is that they are on the tomato plant Chuck ate pretty good three days later we got planted it. I thought it wouldn't make it. It's still short and expanding side ways instead of growing upward. It's a creeping tomato. No, there is no such thing. Not quite sure if it helps or not at this point, but I set up a support to keep leaves and branches as far from the ground as possible.

I started some heirloom tomatoes from seeds in the spring. This batch is the second one. The first ones were chomped by Chuck right before they were transplanted to the garden. The second batch had a significantly late start. They are finally getting speed after some summer heat. Timing of heat is always important for plants. We had a chilly spring this year. Most of my flowers and vegetables are having hard time growing this year.

Somebody got into my garden. There is always something new here. I've got to keep my eyes on this area. Anyway, it's time to do something, but it turns into that. Fencing is the best way to prevent critters to get into the garden, but I don't like its look... just not pretty. I found Deer fences at Gardener's Supply Company. They have light weight thin fence. It's hard to get recognized. Visually, it works for me. Let's see how it works to keep critters away. No matter who it is, no more free food, Buddy! It is getting hotter, and I've already sweated while putting up the deer fence.

Marilyn found her sun spot, and has been enjoying her day. She is surrounded with tranquility. Happiness is not necessarily something exciting. Marilyn seems to know that. Wait..., isn't she sleeping all the time? She just took a nap after the walk. Is this supposed to be called tranquility? It looks like more laziness, doesn't it?

Anyway, time goes slowly in the yard with the sleeping pooch on Sunday.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Japanese Fast Food

I got lazy today. I didn't want to think of what to cook for dinner. So, I cheated.

This is called yaki-soba, Japanese stir fried noodle. It belongs to a group of foods you eat at a fair, something like a corn dog, spuds and fried dough. It's a popular menu in kids. Hungry teenagers go to get it after school. Adults love it, too. I believe it originates Chinese food considering the way it's cooked and the type of noodle. It's pretty simple to make—stir-fry meat and vegetables, cook noodle with a little bit of water, mix them together, then add sauce. You can get a kit at an Asian grocery store. It consists of noodle and sauce. The noodle is like ramen noodle. I used the kit today.

I used the vegetables in the fridge — bean sprouts, carrots, onion and maitake mushrooms. Pork was added to enhance a flavor. A great thing about this dish is you can put any vegetables you can think of for stir fry. Cabbage is a good vegetable to add. You can put pork, chicken, shrimps or a combination of these if you wish. I prefer to stick to one animal protein. Personally, I think pork and shrimps make the dish better than chicken. It's like lo mein with a Japanese twist.

Whenever I use sauce in a packet like this, I feel guilty about lack of my effort. There is no creativity there. This packet contains all spices and other seasonings. The sauce tastes like Worcester sauce, not like one for lo mein, it has a little bit of kick to it with a little bit of sweetness. I could say that it tastes like a barbecue sauce. Ooh, I should try this — make yaki soba with barbecue sauce. A barbecue sauce needs a little twist. I might even use lo main for this. This would be a fun experiment. The lazy evening turned to an exciting inspiration.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012




私は和食党なので、毎日ご飯は欠かせません。日本のお米には手が届かないけれど、カリフォルニア米でもなかなかおいしいお米が手頃に手に入るのです。しかもコシヒカリ種!ちょっと贅沢な気分を味わっています。中国や韓国のお米はずっと安いのだけど、味もずいぶんとお粗末。しかもお米が臭う。「臭い飯を食う云々」っていう表現があるけれど、それってここに由来するのかなと思ったほど。チャーハンやアランチー二を作るときには長粒米を使います。短粒米は水分を多く含むので、これらのメニューには不向き。ちなみにマリリンもご飯大好き。白ご飯をそのまま バクバクあっという間に平らげてしまいます。
























まぁそんな感じで結構いろいろなものが周りにあるので、日本の食卓とそこまでかけ離れていない食生活ができそうでしょ? アメリカでも場所によってはもっといろいろなものが手に入るかもしれないので、これはあくまでも私の日常の行動範囲内での情報です。