Saturday, December 29, 2018

Goodbyes in 2018

2018 has been a year of goodbyes. In February, after my 2003 PT Cruiser stalled several times, it was traded in for a 2014 Subaru Forester. Even though most people would be excited to get a new car, I feel sad of letting go my transportation of 15 years. There were many memories associated with the PT Cruiser, and I miss the car. I never thought I would miss a car this much.

In March, after waking up with a sore neck and painful shoulders for weeks, and after consulting with my doctor, I purchased a new mattress. I had the same mattress since 1996, I think. I think it was purchased the year I got my own apartment. I watched the mattress delivery people taking away the old mattress with sadness. It was with me for so long; however, since we don't normally look at the mattress, it was not as painful as letting go of the car. 

At the end of June, we said goodbye to Kelsey.  I cannot remember when she stopped going for walks. She had spent the past year in bed most of time.  Her hair had become matted and dirty since I was not able to give her a proper bath anymore in her condition. She cried frequently from her aching bones. We miss her so much, and I hope her spirit will always be with us. 

On July 10th,  one of my uncles passed away unexpectedly. Although I had not seen him in many years, I have many fond memories of him as a child.  It's hard to believe he is no longer around. I can't imagine what my cousins are feeling now that their father is gone.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Revisiting Rodeo Beach

On December 25, 2015, we all went to Rodeo Beach. It was probably the last time Kelsey went on a hike, and we didn't go far with her bad hips. This morning, Cracus revisited Rodeo Beach in memory of Kelsey, who passed away yesterday. He roamed around on the beach next to the waves.  We also hiked a bit further up the hill. It was getting pretty hot around noon. As we stopped to admire the view, I noticed a tick crawling in Cracus' hair! I frantically brushed it off after several tries. That was my queue to turn around.  We went back to the beach again before heading back.


On the way back home, we stopped by one of the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Points.  It was a nice day for photographs of the bridge.  After we got home, Cracus had a bath to get rid of all the sand and make sure he had no other ticks on him.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Healthy Frozen Dessert Maker

Gourmia GSI180

A couple months ago I got an "ice cream" maker from a neighbor. I was intrigued because it looked like I could just plug it in, put in frozen pieces of fruit, and ice cream would come out from it. The maker claims the result would have texture similar to ice cream. I have another ice cream maker that has an inside bowl that needs to be frozen prior to use, and I would need to prepare a list of ingredients in order to make ice cream. How could this new machine be so easy? I read some of the reviews, someone mentioned it takes a lot of force to push the frozen fruit down the machine. 

I looked at the parts and read the manual carefully. I thought before I get carried away, I would just use a bag of pre-packaged frozen pineapple chunks to test it out. According to the manual, the frozen fruit should be removed from the freezer for about 5 minutes before making the dessert in order to ensure a softer consistency. I let the bag of pineapple chunks sat for at least 5 minutes before pouring them into the opening on top of the machine.

After I push the chunks all the way down with the plunger, a yellow ribbon of pineapple unfurls from underneath. It was like magic!  I actually didn't need to use that much force. Since the machine is pretty light weight, I had to make sure that I did not push too hard. I think letting the frozen fruit sit out for a few minutes really helped.  The consistency is however far from ice cream since there is no cream involved.  I might be able to trick little kids into thinking this was ice cream but it's definitely not ice "cream". It's refreshing and fun to make. For lactose intolerant people,  this is a good alternative to ice cream or frozen yogurt. For people who can't chew, this would be a good way to enjoy fresh fruits on hot days. The machine is easy to take apart for cleaning. Since there is no cream, the parts just need to be rinsed off. No detergent needed.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

First Taste of Mulberries

Today I checked on the mulberry tree and noticed the mulberries are turning red. Some of them have already turned dark purple.  Since the branches are skinny, I was able to just pull them down and pick the berries. They are smaller than I expected but tasted good. I am sure Cracus would eat them off the ground when they fall off on their own. I will need to check on them on a daily basis from here on.

The passion vine is blooming and little passion fruits are forming.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mulberries Are Here

We had quite a bit of rain in March, and the garden is now overgrown with greenery.  As I went out there to cut the grass back and checking on all the plants, I noticed the "dwarf" mulberry tree is now over 9 feet tall. I was hoping it would stay within my arm's reach. I then noticed little green mulberries all over the branches! Wow, this will be the first year it bears fruit.  I will be observing the growth of the mulberries closely.  I hope the birds and squirrels don't get them all.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Drink of 2018

Maltex at Miliki Restaurant

Nearly every year I "discover" a new drink either unexpectedly stumbled upon it or having someone introduced it to me.  Earlier this month I was invited to a group dinner at a Nigerian restaurant named Miliki in Oakland. I had never ever had Nigerian food, and most people in the group were the same.  Our host, a Nigerian native, patiently described everything and even order a variety of appetizers for us to try.  I was very impressed with the flavors of everything. Nigerian food is not much on presentation but more of comfort food.  They don't look all that fancy and pretty in photographs, but they taste great and very satisfying.

I always check out the beverage section in ethnic restaurants to see if they have interesting drinks. As everyone else in the group enjoyed wine, I asked the host what "Maltex" is. As soon as he said it is a popular drink in Nigerian and confirmed it's alcohol free, I wanted to try it.  A dark beer looking bottle was brought to me. I took a sip with a straw and was immediately intrigued. It tasted great and reminded me of molasses. It's carbonated and sweet but tasted natural unlike regular soda. I looked up Wikipedia for more information as I sipped more of my new drink. The first sentence in the article is "Malta is a lightly carbonated malt beverage, brewed from barley, hops, and water much like beer;...". Wow, so this is what beer would taste like before it turns into an alcoholic drink? I can't stand the way beer tastes, but malt is delicious. I also noticed on the bottle that Maltex is actually imported from Denmark not Nigeria. Another surprise.

I felt a little sad as I finished my first bottle of Malta. After I got home, I searched the net to see where I can get more. I could not find anyone carrying the exact brand in nearby stores, but discovered a different brand called Vita Malt on, where I order my dog food sometime. Vita Malt is another company in Denmark that makes malt drinks. Vita Malt Plus has aloe vera, ginseng, and royal jelly. It's marketed as a type of energy drink. It's packed with vitamin B complex. It sounds fantastic! As I dug more information on Vita Malt Plus, I came upon an extremely negative review on the drink on The Soda Jerks website. The reviewer thought it tasted so disgusting that he had to throw away the rest of it after a couple sips. Hummm.... would I feel that way? I scroll to the bottom of the review, and many people commented in defense of malta. Secondly, the reviewer had no clue what royal jelly was. He obviously had not been exposed to as many nature's wonders as I have. I decided that I was not going to take his opinion seriously. I received my 6-pack of Vita Malt a few days later. I feel that I have much more energy after drinking it, and I love the way it tastes. I don't normally like soft drink and only drink soda occasionally, but this malt drink is good stuff. I can't believe nobody introduced it to me before.