Moonwalking Taipei with Jenny

August 14, 2010 § 20 Comments

In the last post, I left you all hanging who I was meeting up today. Well, none other than the adorable Jenny! She’s here in Taiwan for the Fulbright program to teach English here. However, she is stationed in Yilan while I’m in Taipei. Thanks to the great mass transportation here, she was able to get to Taipei within an hour’s time via a bus that costed her about $3.00.

Before I headed out this morning, I had a new type of soymilk–matcha soymilk!!!

Although it’s only slightly sweetened, it was still a little bit too sweet for me. It was tasty nonetheless :mrgreen:

What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t bring some goodies? Aka food??? Of course I did!

These are blueberry jam roll-up cookies that I baked up this morning. My mom has these really nice packagings that I can put my cookies in to make them look store-bought. Not bad huh? 😉  Perhaps I should drop school and just start my own bakery. I kid.

The minute I met Jenny today, I was immediately charmed by her bubbly self. I knew this blogger meetup would come ever since I found her blog back in May. We hit it up right away because, well, I’m Taiwanese and she’s all curious about the country where she’ll be staying for 10 months.

Her bus dropped her off at Taipei City Hall, which is just way too convenient because it is right next to Taipei 101, one of the top tourist attractions.

Taipei 101--taken 2 summers ago.

Believe it or not, I have never gone to the top although it’s been completed since 2004. It lived a short life of being the tallest building in the world till the recent completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in January 2010. Finally, today, I got to see Taipei city through bird’s eye view.


It was a shame that the air quality today wasn’t at its greatest. Slightly smoggy, slightly foggy. I was trying to find where I live, but my poor geography intuition prevented me from spotting my home.

Despite the 360 view of Taipei City, I must say my favorite part was riding the elevator! We went from the 5th floor to the 89th floor (okay, so we’re not completely at the top) in a matter of 35 seconds. They claimed it to be the fastest elevator in the world.

Holy smokes! 1010 meters (~3313 ft)  per minute? It was surprisingly quiet and smooth as well–so fast that my ears popped a couple of times while going up and down.

Here’s a model of the elevator:

Once in the elevator, the lights dimmed and “stars” of all colors appeared on the ceiling of the elevator. For some reason, I felt so calm in there as I became captured and mesmerized by the colorful stars spreading across the ceiling. 35 seconds in the elevator was not enough time!

Because the structure was so tall and Taiwan is actually earthquake prone, the mechanics and engineers were smart enough to install a damper inside the building.

More specifically, this is a tuned-mass damper, which helps to reduce vibrations caused by intense motions, such as earthquakes (yuck, I know, why am I talking about physics again?). Anyways, this was pretty much a gigantic ball hanging from the top of the building.

We were really hungry by the time our feet landed back on ground level again, as it was a little after 1 pm. We took an MRT (mass rapid transit system), sort of like your average metro or subway, to Cha for Tea, a restaurant/tea house with tea, light meals, and desserts. If you remember from this post, there are actually a few Cha for Tea’s scattered in California. But of course, the original branches in Taiwan are much much better!

I love the inside decor!

When we got there, it was close to 2 o’clock, and yet we were the 7th in waiting. That shows how popular this place is! I told Jenny that I have a selection of restaurants that I must go to everytime I come back to Taiwan, and this is one of them. We spent our waiting time efficiently by perusing their extensive menu first and decided what each of us wanted to get. It wasn’t till a little after 2:30pm that we got seated, but we already knew what we wanted! It also helped that the food came lightning fast! Always good for two voracious explorers :mrgreen:.

First up, a small and light salad:

Then came a very mild-tasting soup with a variety of mushrooms and bean sprouts in there. Loved it!

Not soon after that, the rest of our food came. We weren’t even done with our salads! I had braised Jasmine tofu as my side dish, and Rice with savory mushrooms and green tea for my main dish.

tofu

Jenny got the Braise Mushrooms with Sweet Osmanthus. I have no idea what osmanthus are, but you can check out her blog for pictures of her food!

We both got different desserts. I got green tea jello while Jenny got the green tea mango mousse. She’s on the mango craze lately, which is absolutely understandable because Taiwan has some of the best mangoes!!! Okay, maybe Malaysia or Phillipines or Indonesia have even yummier ones, but I’ve never had them before so Taiwan mangoes are the best I’ve had by far.

Green tea jello

Green tea mango mousse

It was 4 pm by the time we finished lunch (dinner?), and yet, there were still people filing into the restaurant!

Unfortunately, our day together had to end early. She had to head back home to finish some business for her Fulbright teaching program (Good luck Jenny!). Although it was a short get-together, I felt like we connected on multiple levels. I’m really excited as she begins exploring more and more of Taiwan and I know she’ll love this beautiful Formosa.

Next weekend will be my last weekend in Taiwan (!!!!!!!!). We may or may not be meeting up again next weekend, but I’ll definitely be back during the winter again! I feel like I just got here and just started my summer vacay, and here I am, almost closing in to my last days here. Ah well, I’ll just have to have more fun each and every day!!! You bet tomorrow will be another fun-filled day :D.

P.S. Jenny can do the moonwalk! I didn’t get to see her do it today, but she said she can actually teach me one day!

Have a great weekend!

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Have a laugh

July 22, 2010 § 5 Comments

My mom sent me an email filled with hilarious cartoon clips a couple days ago. Sometimes we all need to fill our days with more laughter…:lol:

Get a healthy body and mind with laughter!

Benefits:

  • Reduces stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) and increases health-enhancing hormones (endorphins and other neurotransmitters)
  • Good physical and emotional release
  • Get those abs by laughing, ’cause you’ll be working out your diaphragm, abs, and even your shoulders
  • Leave muscles more relaxed
  • Distraction to negative feelings (anger, stress, guilt)
  • Encourages more “light-hearted” perspectives and optimism
  • Helps you become a social butterfly! Everyone loves someone who smiles and laughs!

…and of course I can’t talk about laughter and not watch another one of Mary Poppins’ songs:

After having had a good laugh, I started my morning with a bowl of fruit yogurt madness:

Similar to Tuesday’s, but minus the French toast waffle sticks and replaced with a toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Sesame Bread with PB2.

Yogurt, banana soft-serve, mangoes, blueberries, and toasted bread. Hallelujah! 😀

Dinner was a simple one, which I already whipped up yesterday! Cold pasta salad!

This dish had whole wheat penne pasta, broccoli, chunks of mozzarella, roasted eggplants, chopped tomatoes, olives tossed in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper, lemon juice, honey, and white wine vinegar.

All I did tonight was microwaved some peas and made some carrot fries.

Yumyum carrot fries!

Don’t you just love simple, fast dinners?

Not to mention the pasta salad was cold and well-marinated since it sat in the fridge overnight. For once I wasn’t sweating in the kitchen while cooking! 😎

Off to Thursday night Farmers market now! Summer seems to be a big Farmers market season. Hope I’ll get some cheap finds!

Hasta la vista amigas(os?)!

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+ Do you guys have any good jokes to share? 😀

“The body is your temple…

June 12, 2010 § 6 Comments

…, keep it light and clean for the soul to reside in.”

— B.K.S. Iyengar (Founder of Iyengar Yoga)

This, along with a few other quotes by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, is a quote I live by daily. It can mean so many things in one sentence. How one perceives to “keep the body light and clean” differs from individual to individual. For example, alot of fitnessistas/foodies circulating the bloggie world would maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating wholesome meals and exercising regularly. Others may meditate or pray daily to cleanse the mind and soul. Yogis observe their bodies by eating clean, mostly vegetarian, diet, along with body rejuvenating practices that allow the mind to declutter. Meditation is also often practiced daily by enthusiastic and serious yogis. Whichever category mentioned above you belong in, Iyengar has described you all. Because when your body is healthy, your mind is healthy, and consequently your soul is at peace. By maintaining a healthy body, you are not worrying about diseases that may plague you in later years,  your weight issues, whether you’ll be hit by another insomniac attack tonight, or having to drag your battered body through another day. You would feel energized, and face your everyday with a carefree mind, and hence a carefree soul.

“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.”

–B. K. S. Iyengar

I consider myself an atheist, though my family leans more towards Buddhism. One of the reason why I love yoga is because it is not a religion, but rather a philosophy you embrace. Regardless of whether you’re Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, etc, yoga welcomes you into its practice and art with open arms.

On that note, I hereby present you what nourishment I gave my body today! 😀

Btw, I loved reading what you guys put down as your fave types of movies to watch! It seems like most of us were in a consensus there that horror movies are a no-no, and thumbs up for funny, light-hearted movies! 🙂 I love to curl up on a couch at home with some popcorn or a cup of tea and just relax with some funny movies to cheer me up after a long day!

At 6:50am, my eyes fluttered open, but my body lay in bed till 7:30am. Ahhh, love it when you get to roll around in bed on the weekends and just take your time to wake up! I made myself some blueberry-infused Green monster similar to the one on Thursday.

(Unashamedly recycled picture)

Yumm-o!

The mix included:

  • 1/2 frozen sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 2 T plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • a splash of H2O
  • 1/4 tsp xanthum gum

I had to go into lab this morning to finish up some stuff, so I did. It was only an hour or so, no biggie on a Saturday morning! When I came home at around 9:40am, my boyfriend was still sleeping, so I busied myself with some blog-reading. When he finally did wake up at around 10:10am, he grabbed some breakfast (bread with nutella) and I drove him out to San Bernardino to pick up the bike he bought on eBay! a week ago.

Record: He lost his bike TWO TIMES within the past year.

And of course, he rode home from San Bernardino, all 21 miles, while I drove back for some lunch. Just some leftover Chipotle salad from yesterday that I didn’t finish. I am sparing you guys the picture because you wouldn’t want to be turned off by the slightly blackened guacamole! 😐 No no, can’t do that to Chipotle!

For snackage, it was half a mango and 1/4 cup cottage cheese.

This has got to be the best mango I’ve had in the United States! Hah, but I got this from an Asian Market. Does that count? My encounters with mangoes here have been sour, dry, cardboard-like. Mangoes in Taiwan are the REAL mangoes! Oh. My. Gosh. I can probably eat 2 lbs of mangoes in one sitting.

It was cold today (63 degrees) so I fancied myself a cup of Yogi Detox tea.

Then it’s errands time: Trader Joe’s then Sprout’s Farmers Market. Yum yum I got La Tortilla wraps again! 😀 Also restocked with plain yogurt (I see more Greek yogurt making in the future!) and a dozen bananas! I go through bananas sooo quickly. Those green monsters, banana soft-serves, and just plain frozen bananas…I can’t get enough of those!

I puttered around a little after I got home, and ate a snack:

10-grain toast spread with PB2 and blackberries, topped with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Because cinnamon just makes everything tastes better. I was opting for a PB&J sandwich, but made this healthier version instead. Does that remind anybody else of shortbread and custard or cream?

decided to go out for a run seeing that the weather has warmed up a little bit more. It was only 63 degrees the entire morning! Brrrr…SOOO not So-Cal!

I managed to cover about 5 miles in 46 minutes. Woohoo! I think this is my new record, as I’ve never ran a full 5-mile before, and this is just under 10 min/mile (I usually run 10 min/mile…yep slow runner here)! I felt great. I felt rejuvenated.

A leisurely shower after, I leisurely strolled to the kitchen and leisurely prepared a fantabulous dinner. Just before I headed out for a run, I put a spaghetti squash into my oven to bake for an hour at 375 degrees. I instructed Dmitri to take it out of the oven when the timer goes off. He obeyed accordingly. 🙂

I’ve never had a spaghetti squash before, so this was all fun and new to me!

Look at that heapin’ pile of strings!

Next, I got to work with the sauce. First, I chopped up 1/2 onion, 1 small zucchini, and about 9 cremini mushrooms. Threw in a handful of fresh basil in the last minute. Because, like cinnamon, basil makes everything tastes better.

Next up, it was the pan. I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onions until golden.

Then I threw in the other veggies.

I deglazed the pan with some white wine vinegar while sauteeing. When they’re almost cooked, I stirred in about a cup of TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara and added pepper to taste.

Let it simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors blend together! Just before turning off the heat, I threw in the bunch of basil leaves. Annnnndddd……

Ring, ring, ring. Dinner’s ready!

Topped with some more peppah and served with a side of steamed asparagus, drizzled with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of salt. Tell me that looks delicious!

Despite the fact that it was a superb dinner, and we both had a heaping plate of spaghetti squash, the plate was still full of veggies. My body and stomach was in post-run mode, and Dmitri in a post-bike mode. We were still hungry for carbs. And because  I got lots of tortillas today from my grocery run, we both decided we wanted home-baked tortilla chips. I went for sweet ones while he favored salty.

We first cut the round tortillas into triangular shapes. For the salty ones, I lied the tortilla triangles onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, covered ’em with another coat of spray, and sprinkled salt all o’er. For the sweet cinnamon ones, I pretty much adapted the method from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Pop ’em into a preheated oven to 425 degrees, and bake for about 15 minutes, flipping in between, or until starting to get crispy. Let cool slightly before digging in!

Salty.

Sweet.

These are, HANDS DOWN, the BESTEST OF BEST tortilla chips I’ve ever had! And Dmitri agrees too! No salsa or dipping sauce required.

I also made myself a dessert version of my Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie.

This yummy bowl was topped with two slices of my last frozen bananas, fresh blackberries, and April’s protein brownie batter.

And now, we’re lounging in the cool evening before the sun sets, complete with homemade tortilla chips and a lovely strawberry dessert. Ahh…life can’t get any better can it? 😉

Have a great weekend folks!

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+ Have you had spaghetti squash before? If so, what other ways have you eat them with? If not, what recipes would you come up with?

+ What do you do to keep your body “light and clean”?

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