Tuesday, December 15, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 15 December 2009

So we visited Zakkushi- a fabulous hole in the wall place opposite Safeway in Vancouver. It was so inspiring, I marinated chicken for my own skewered delights for supper the next day.

So the chawanmushi was my first try. It was a little too salty and I'd should've taken it out maybe a minute earlier.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Advent potlucky thoughts

My good friend Idelette had asked me to write a brief note about Advent according to my Chinese roots. Christmas is a distinctly North American holiday celebrating a very Jewish individual who doesn't seem to have much to do with the Chinese. Ah but here's the rub, that we can celebrate His Gift of Love to us without the blinders of cultural borders or ethnic dividers, because through God's eyes, He is the Given and Risen Saviour to humankind.

It’s been turkey every year since my family moved to Canada, but this year, I desperately want to go back to my Asian roots where our tastes for scalding broth and paper thin meat run gut deep. Every year, my home’s been open to immigrants from lands too remote to remember and still too reminiscent of home to forget. People come because they’ve been invited into a home, with a promise of cranberried and gravied fowl, where they would be served, and someone’s historic journey across the Pacific pond will be shared. Inevitably, mashed potatoes will end up on the floor, our guinea pig Momo would be squealing for attention from the visiting children, all will be a bevy of activity in the time it takes to sit down, eat and discuss the dearth of snow and the less-than-charming BC winter.

But this year, I’m prompted to share a communal pot where every one cooks together. I grew up in a family with seven people and hot potting is a special occasion where food gets scooped and served from one to another. It reminds me, nostalgically enough, of a bygone era where simple napa cabbage (the cheapest veg), liver (a reasonable meat), prawns and the ever-versatile tofu can extend a dinner by an hour. And what great conversations we had around the old hot pot with the copper funnel and the smouldering charcoal!

This Christmas, as I think ahead to prepare the meal, I’ll put out an extra chopstick for Jesus, the foreigner, or the gaijin in our midst. He’s the reason we are celebrating Christmas with a hotpot, because an Advent hotpot is about bringing people from many nations together, under one roof, around one table, sharing one pot and talking about our lives, our hopes, our dreams. He’s going to be here that night, and he’s going to be using chopsticks, supping with us, and whispering his love to each person in attendance.

And mark my words, someone is going to ask, “Who’s that extra chopstick for?” and I’m going to tell him.

A word for today: Supping
Activity: Open your home to a new friend
Prayer: Lord, help me open my heart, my home, to you first, then to my neighbour.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Top 10 values

1. God's immutable Word.
2. Being able to diligently and continuously express creativity in writing, speaking, painting, design and communications in order to encounter Jesus in a meaningful ways
3. Being a Kingdom-culture influence in the life of my family members through speech and deed
4. Discovering new things, new words, new restaurants, new dramas, new languages, a new method of design, communication; to learn from fellow-artists, appreciating beauty, understanding God through the medium of the creative arts
5. Spending time alone
6. Being involved in the lives of creative individuals by nurturing and encouraging growth in an environment which fosters fun and faith
7. Excellence (doing everything to the best of my abilities whether cooking, cleaning, designing, or treating people)
8. Honesty
9. Comfortable traveling
10. Healthy living

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Selling our Yamaha piano

Here's our 8 year old Yahama C1 upright piano that I'd like to sell for $1500 obo before Christmas. Leave me a comment or email me: shirlock67@shaw.ca. Price does not include transportation or shipping.

Thank you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 16 November 2009

I had a yen for yoghurt tonight and since I missed breakfast this morning wanted a second chance during dessert. The solution: French vanilla yoghurt + homemade strawberry jam, frozen blueberries and kashi all over. The quickest way to clear the dinner plates is to put these right at the dining table. Beautifully satisfying.

Brian Crook was the first one to serve us white asparagus with a ladleful of mayo and ham over rice, and I've never forgotten it. Was it in Blonay, Switzerland on the hill opposite to Glion where we lived? All I remember was we went out the very next day and recreated the exact same dish and had it for dinner in the evening. Here's remembering your hospitality to us, Brian.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


What is elegance? Elegance comes from the French word elegans, which is related to "eligere" which means to choose or to select. We get another English word from this- "elect".

As I pondered this notion of elegance, I think of the wife of noble character in Proverbs 31. It is with purposeful intent and choosing to do what is right before God (vs 30..."but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised") that makes her surpass all others. Elegance is a word that is almost passe in this century, but it struck me today that I have been chosen to reflect the wondrous elegance of our Creator God, in dress, in speech, in posture, in thought, in deed and in my relationships.

The most elegant woman today is a woman of incredible force and godly influence.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 12 November 2009

There's something about devil's cake that makes it so diabolically bad for you. First there's all that chocolate. An obscene amount of it. And butter. What's homemade chocolate icing without a slab of bovine milk fat? At the end of what was a 60 minute exercise in the kitchen became a 60 second empirical experience in eating the cake. It's all so innocent, which is why it's diabolical in the first place...

Monday, November 09, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 9 Nov 2009

Teriyaki hamburger + egg on rice, with mayo-ed brocs and prawn cracker. I've heard that hamburger rice is East-meet-West goodness. I missed lunch today and I'm SO glad get off my Mac (whose optical drive is on the fritz) and throw on an apron...Thank God for my half an hour of dinner haven with Myron and dad. Dad looks a bit miffed about my dinner since I decided I preferred cheesy fajitas instead.(Myron insists on calling them the Family Guy way- Fah-Jai-tas...LOL) Myron, still my sweet potooey.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 8 Nov 2009

Felt incredibly rushed tonight since I went out to Chapters to look at manga comics. Found one that was really inspiring, called Solanin. The quickest dinner to put together is probably beef steak teriyaki and to stir fried buddha's palm with carrots. Wasn't anything to shout about but the apple and blueberry crisp was deep-dish delish.

GOOBE short-sighted and stringy-chested.

This is Goobe ("Goo-bey"). He is the inspiration to my need to make an Ugly doll that's cheaper than what's currently on the market. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, else, it's the cheaper way to show appreciation for the designy things in life. Goobe now sits in my god-daughter Rebecca's family room window overlooking what must be their manicured backyard in Vancouver.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 7 Nov 2009

I didn't have buckwheat noodles but I had Hua Long handmade dried noodles so I thought let's do it like cold soba with Mizkan oigatsuo-tsuyu. It was actually really good. Bonito flavoured soya sauce that could also be used for hot soups. Very happy with my find. Now it's raining cats and dogs and I had wanted to go to Chapters to find some manga comics...guess, I'm staying in to study Japanese.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Momo もも guard pet

もも (Momo) is our pet guinea pig- I love how he looks- always innocent and curious about the world around him. Here he is, guarding the stairs that lead to my bedroom...he's got the smallest, cutest lil' paws!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog 5 Nov 2009

The weatherman said expect 70km/h winds and he might've well written tonight's dinner menu: Pumpkin soup, chicken casserole with garlic bread and basalmic vinegretted tomatoes, because windy weather always makes me want to make everything rich, creamy and dripping with butter. Pumpkin soup is one of the heartiest soups. It's times like these when a Kitchen Aid Food Processor would come in handy, but then again, my PC blender did the job quite nicely.

Tina came over for dins which was a treat because I haven't seen her for ages and she's such a trooper (cos' she's hungry!) and I like people to come hungry. We chowed down then chin-wagged, prayed and got caffeinated, all before 10:45pm. Now I'm ready to snack on my sunflower seeds...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bakgua recipe


2lbs of regular ground pork
8 Tbsp of sugar
3 Tbsp of fish sauce
3 Tbsp of oyster sauce (or hoisin is fine)
3 Tbsp of soya sauce
White pepper or chili flakes depending on how spicy you want it.

Mix all the ingredients together to marinate at least 5 hours. Better if it's overnight. Spread it thinly on a cookie sheet to bake at 350C for approx 30 minutes. Halfway through, flip it over to brown both sides evenly. Do not be stingy on the sugar as that's what holds it together.

Microwave them for 20 seconds if you wish to reheat them as they taste better after a day.

食べ物 Tabemonolog 3 Nov 2009

For drinkies, it's important to get something with lift (think fizz), but knowing I was going to OD on saturated fats tonight, how about fresh OJ with Sidra (Mo's fav fizzy apple cider) and pomegranates for couleur, eh? On second thoughts, I should've used clementines for better citrussy goodness.

So dad had caught pink salmon from the Frasier River. It was soft even though I had encased it in eggwash and cajun seasoning. Twice. But it had a subtle taste of salmony flavour without fishyness. Heaven forbid fishyness! And deep frying fries. Oh my, my hair smells like McDonald's right now. I SO need a bath. The sauce? It's newly minted Srirachuptonaise (Srirachai chili + ketchup + mayonnaise). おいしい with tongue-tingling pimentoes as well...not for the faint of tongue.

Monday, November 02, 2009

"Listen" and "Silent" contain the same letters

I gave myself 30 minutes to shop for groceries at T&T on Halloween afternoon. I stopped for a-steal-of-a-deal mangos and started to snort them to figure out how much sugar was in there. An elderly lady came right by me and asked if "war swour or war me sweemt?" It took me a while before I could understand she was asking if I thought they were sour or sweet. I could tell she was Asian so I spoke to her in Mandarin, but she was quite happy to practice her English on me. Her oversized clothes were dishevelled, her uncombed hair under an old wolly cap and she had gold caps on most of her teeth which aren’t already rotten off.

Her name? Jackie.

When I have conversations with strangers, 9 out of 10 times was because I had initiated it. To be on the receiving end is always a bit surprising, especially since I was counting the minutes before I had to go and meet Myron at our meeting place. But she was determined to have a conversation. She told me she's from China and she began to ask where I was from and how long I've lived here in Canada. She seemed very interested in who I was. One topic led to another and she talked about the sad state of the Canadian government. She belittled their efforts for taking care of the country and BC because there are so many people who are homeless and are taking drugs. She went on to say that she has never voted even though she can. Right away, I got on my You've-got-to-voice-your-vote soapbox.

I took that as a cue to say what I thought about the sad state of politics by saying "I am a Christian and we need to pray for our-" I never got further than that. The next few minutes were probably the longest minutes God held my tongue. Almost rehearsed in her mind were the words that "God doesn't exist, He doesn't love, just look at the state of the world, that (pointing a finger at me) I've been brainwashed, that Jesus has nothing to do with the Chinese because he's a Jewish man, from Israel! Christianity is an ad. It's like all the other religions and so she doesn’t follow any religion.” She had such a long list of things she chose not to believe in and all this while, my brain was mired in "1. How to talk about spiritual things? 2. How to share my 3-minute testimony and 3. How to give her the Gospel and 4. How to invite her into the Kingdom?"

The formulaic way of bringing her closer to Jesus was going in the spiritual shredder! I could not get a word in edgewise. God held my tongue and from the moment I knew I had no choice but to listen, I chose to give up my "proven methods". I became silent inside and it became clearer each time her voice rose the lesson God was teaching me. People were sneaking around us to pinch a mango or five into plastic bags but Jackie was not moving from that spot.

She talked about her cousin who won at every gambling match in the casino in China. He never lost. That's almost like how he would bring home the bacon. I kept thinking that nobody is ever *that* lucky, he'll lose one day, gambling like that! But he died suddenly, at age 27- the ultimate “loss”. She was only a young girl then, but she remembered her aunt went crazy with grief because that was her youngest son, and her favourite. Jackie must've known the the finality of death through her aunt's eyes, and it must have marred her long enough to recall this incident as if it happened yesterday.

You know, God speaks when we are silent before Him and listening to the person He wants us to love into His embrace. I put my arms around her and looked her right in her eyes and I said "you've seen a lot of pain in your life, haven't you?" In that instant, Jackie caved in and tears welled up in her tired, weary eyes. I hadn't seen it before but it was right there, plain as day. "I can see your heart is full of wounds, and you've been carrying these around a long time, haven't you?" She simply wept.

Her silence gave me the opportunity to seek permission to pray because God so clearly wanted me to simply meet the need. What was her need at that moment? She just wanted to be. She smiled weakly and I put my arms around her shoulders and prayed that God will reveal Himself to her, that He would show her how much He loved her. I never said such a short prayer ever, but really, that was all that was needed.

When I opened my eyes, she was smiling wanly. I called her Auntie Jackie and I asked if she could ever imagine me as someone who had lost a husband, a mother and a brother. That my son was only 20 months when his dad died of lung cancer at 35. That was 12 years ago. That was a shock to her and she acknowledged that I too, understood loss and grief. I shared how any ad (she alluded to that before) is not true until you try out the product. In many ways, she's right, Jesus is only an ad. There's no truth to Him or His abilities until you try Him personally. Then I could address her decision to believe that Jesus is culturally non-Chinese and therefore has nothing to do with her. I shared only one Chinese character “Xiang” for “Blessed”, that our ancestors were telling us to look out for God’s lamb and the only lamb I know in any dominant world religion is Jesus. That made her think a little, but then she asked if I was ever sad when my husband died so young. Well, of course I was, not forgetting I was angry too and hurt at the loss of my best friend and the father of my child. Being a Christian doesn't mean I don't feel hurt but it means I have hope, hope to see my husband, my mother and my brother because of their faith in Jesus, and what He did on the cross.

In the twenty minutes we hovered by the mangoes, I felt God saying something to me more than I was saying to Jackie. That Spirit-filled is doing things supernaturally, that having everything somewhat scripted in my mind is good, but it may not be God's best for that person. To be prepared to share the reason for our faith is Biblical, but to be prepared to listen is a supernatural act of the Spirit to humble me before God and man.

Myron finally found me and putting his arms around me said "hi" to Auntie Jackie. Her eyes grew wide at the child I talked about, who now, 12 years later, is saying with his body language "I love my mom. We're close." It's as if, all that I said is now confirmed as true because my son appeared and we're going shopping arms linked together for something quite as ordinary as eggs and milk and there really is a God who takes care of the grieving, the helpless and the lonely.

The mangoes were sour, by the way, but my encounter with Jackie, undeniably sweet.

Humility is the key to God and the key to the human heart.

食べ物Tabemonolog 2 Nov 2009

食べ物 Tabemonolog is my new Food logging post. Tabemono means Food in Japanese and monolog is just a neat way of expressing "one-person-speak". Today I came back from PTC and felt like black pepper baby back ribs (BPBBR!)and Shanghai bok choy with minced beef and white rice. The burnt sweetness of the ribs and that rice was just a great combo. Throw in some "kim" (seaweed) to wrap it up...Yowzerz! Fortunately for us, Sunny dropped by and made me proud by eating everything off his plate and then after seconds!

Fresh Fish October 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

29th October 2009

Today I got new glasses. They're Geoffrey Beene frames and I only remember Geoffrey Beene's men's fragrance. They're dorkey-designy, I've decided. And it sort of fits me. I took a long time to look for new glasses because I really liked the last, last pair I got at Paris Miki in Singapore. There's something about glasses that make me feel new. Like a new pair of leggings. I wonder why that is?

There aren't too many things in Canada that makes me go Ooh and Aah. I remember so many more things in Europe and Japan that made me wide-eyed. I've been watching this J-drama called "Around 40" since Yuka told me about it. It was really absorbing although it's because of Amami Yuki that made it mostly watchable. I've also started on Fumo Chitai (The Wasteland)- a difficult movie to watch about how the Russian army detained Japanese soldiers in a Siberian prison. This made for TV movie is to commemorate Fuji (?) TV's 50th year anniversary. I like how they tell engaging stories that make you care for the characters.

I think I should blog more often. I've begun to love cooking interesting dishes once more. Thought I lost it a while back there...and cooking to the tunes of Wang Faye, mmm...

Oh well. Jaa, mata.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The five most powerful questions in the world

Today is August 1, 2009. It's Switzerland's national day. It's also the first day I woke up with a renewed hunger in my heart for God's wisdom. It's fair to say that I'm always questioning, and discovery is THE best part of any given day. The five most powerful questions in the world are:

Who, What, Why, When and How.

Simple isn't it?

Every person on this planet is trying to figure out their position and meaning as it relates to others and to the material world, aren't they? Self-help books on How to -fill in your own blanks- abound. It would be perfect if only for the fact that humans will follow the rules of any given self-help book until it becomes inconvenient. And inconvenient, it promises to be if not now, eventually. What are we inundated with?

How to be a great leader.
How to be successful.
How to be good in bed.

Wouldn't we all want to know how we can live a satisfying life, with a good reputation, to have good health and always enough on our plates? Wouldn't anyone want to be shown the best way to live? We all want that, but often on our own terms. I am such an example. The best way to live is not to follow another but to journey with one who will love and live through these experiences with me. I've journeyed with a few people who were there with me for parts of the journey, but only with Jesus have I experienced love and living in an intimate space called "My Life". You might be thinking, oh...Jesus freak, but I'd have to say, I'm really far from that. I'm too rational to be one. I am however, asking him a lot of questions from some of the promises I found in the Bible. I'd ask other religious leaders too, but for now, I'll ask Jesus:

What do you mean by giving me abundant life? How does that look like? (John 10)
You offer long life, riches and honour, guidance and satisfaction in you. (Prov 3) How can I commit to wanting that all the time, and always choosing your way?

It occurred to me a key verse in Proverbs 3: 5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."

Life, it seems, is a twisty, windy, multiple choiced variety of variations. From my viewpoint, there are three paths: what looks right to me, what looks wrong to me and the third possibility, which is the hidden path I cannot see and possibly never even considered! Every day, and several times in the day, I find myself asking Jesus, "What now? Or How do we do this? Or When will it happen? Or Who will be the one? Why can't that happen?"

Do you ask? Whom do you ask? I like asking Jesus because He's engaged with me in the nitty gritties of my life. He knows me. He knows me well and He used to lead me to places I didn't want to go. That was in my younger days where I decided to take him to places I'd rather be. After years of him letting me lead, I found out I was going in circles and not being really happy where I was. He allowed me that, you know. He did tell me that really wasn't what he would've wanted for me. He leads me today to the places I am curious why He wants me there. And in following His lead, I've discovered the path of submission and the joy of being directed to love others.


Because He loves me. How can a dead guy love me? How can I even sense He loves me? I guess in the same way I put to test how anyone who says they love me, actually love me. Here's one:

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." Prov 15:1

How many of us have tested that? Why would this be in the Bible? Let me be honest. I never had to learn the second half of this verse. I am living proof that I can make tempers flare with harsh words! But the first half about giving a gentle answer? Wow. I do that and I get a discussion instead of a screaming match. Is it possible that God wants the best for us, to live in harmony despite being very different from each other? What a notion!

To be continued...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vine and branches May 15, 2009

Today, I looked at a very familiar passage in John 15 about Jesus being the true vine and I am a branch connected to Him. He says that I have already been pruned and purified by the message He has given me. Then He gives this exhortation:

"Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me." - John 15:4

I asked myself if I have willfully severed myself from Jesus? What might that look like? Then I suddenly see how I can check if I had- by looking at fruitfulness in my life. What does fruit look like? Is it someone who has received Jesus in his life? Is it someone who is learning about Jesus? Is it a Bible Study full of attendees? Events I helped to create that has brought people into the Kingdom? Just what does fruit look like? I dropped my eyes to the verse 9:

"I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father's commandments and remain in His love."

How do I remain in Jesus' love? Scripture seems to be telling me when I obey His commandments, I remain in His love, just like how Jesus did to remain in His Father's love. What are Jesus' commandments? He made it amply clear to me this morning in verse
12 "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." How has Jesus loved me? Sacrificially. It is other-centred. He laid down His life for his friend. He laid down His life for me.

Then Wow. Love, love, love. When I love as Jesus loves the Father, obeying is joyful, because love received, will also reciprocated. The love relationship that Jesus has with the Father is fluidly yet concretely based on love. God showed me that loving each other is exactly like Jesus and His Father's relationship.

The fruits I will produce is the effect of my loving others. I cannot will these fruits to appear, but I can choose to love others. And by choosing to love others, I will bear much fruit. Am I choosing to love others? I think perhaps this is what it looked like the past week.

In loving others, I said yes to going out to Richmond for dinner with Karl and a friend he wanted to introduce me to. I was not feeling 100% and it was a long way to drive to Richmond, but I loved this friend of Karl's before I met her, and what God would have me do is worthwhile and joyful. I reaped the benefits of seeing her journey with Jesus in a new way.

In loving Josh (not his real name), I spent time listening to his faith journey. He had a very interesting past and had embraced many different faiths. To be able to spend time, and to hear another person's life story is a remarkable privilege to me. I was able to share in the briefest of minutes my own faith journey and how Jesus made a difference in my life.

My love tank is filled when I sit still and embrace the fullness of the cross and what Jesus did for me. For in His love with His Father, He hung on the cross for me. I am dearly loved, fully redeemed, and joyfully reinstated in His family. What a joy it is to love others the way Jesus loves me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle

Once in a purple moon (when it's long past being blue), you run across a story that is worth its salt, that touches the human soul because of its capacity to be true and humble, yet grandiose and larger than life. I was sent a link from my dear friend Lu to watch a phenomenon that is currently overtaking Youtube. Five days and it's hit 9 million viewers. There's something that is touching, strumming, and humming in the hearts of many of us.

Our world deems beauty a "talent" when all it is, is "personal, subjective like". If by external measurement we call one such person "beautiful", surely, that is a compliment for the Creator. Susan Boyle had talent long before she was discovered by Britain's got talent. Many commented on Youtube one should never judge the book by its cover and rightly so. Simon Cowell did an eyeroll when she said she was 47. Perhaps it's rare to see a 47 year old hit all the right notes. I might have done the same if I've sat through hundreds, if not thousands of wannabe singers who do better in the shower than on stage. Still, it warms my heart to see the underdog become top dog, someone older than most other contestants take her place on the stage, walk off after her rendition (out-Paigeing Elaine Paige, out-Fantineing Melora Hardin), completely unaware of protocol, and then curtsy at the end with "thanks" and sending an old-fashioned flying kiss to her instant fan club thundering a second ovation. (Maybe it was the first standing ovation that never sat down.)

It's one of those timeless moments where I can hear God whisper "My ways are far different from the world's, My ways are higher than yours." He takes the simple, the humble, the weak and the marked down castoffs and lifts them to where He is. All the talent in Susan's voice can not make up for the effort and the courage she showed to actually stand before her critics. In an age where television sells epidermal beauty, it's a breath of fresh air to see something this surprising, this polarizing, this positive.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009