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!

6/31 + EcoEd Thursdays: Baking Soda

July 1, 2010 § 18 Comments

Hello lovepies!

First of all, thanks for those comments! Sometimes I just need a reminder that I am human and humans make mistakes. Eating is especially hard since there are just so much glorious-tasting food around!

So what’s up with 6/31? Helloooo Elaine it’s July 1st! It is standard lab etiquette to date every page of our lab notebook as well as all the tubes, containers, etc, we used that day. Today I kept dating my stuff 6/31/10 and having to go back and change it. I need to get with the days.

Before I start with EcoEd Thursdays, I have a funny story to share with you guys. I was at a talk yesterday, and this professor, let’s call him Prof X, was talking about green fluorescent proteins, which basically are these proteins (a type of macromolecule) that fluoresces when exposed to blue light. Many marine creatures have these proteins in them or on their skins, giving them the “glowy” look, kind of like these jellyfish!

Or, in Prof X’s example…

True story. No offense to those Twilight fans out there!

Anyways, on to today’s special feature of EcoEd Thursdays. Our star today is baking soda.

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EcoEd Thursdays!

For those of you bakers out there, baking soda isn’t just a staple to add into breads, cakes, cookies, and muffins. They can serve as handy-dandy household cleaners, deodorizers, beauty product, personal care product, and much more!

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate (if you want to be more scientific), helps maintain the pH in a neutral position. In other words, when it comes into contact with a substance that is either to acidic or alkaline, baking soda will naturally neutralize the pH, which is about 7. For example, water has a neutral pH of 7.

You probably already know some of the uses of baking soda, such as neutralizing the acidic odors in your refrigerator, or mix it in with a little hot water to clean dishware. Here are some of my favorites that I just learned recently of what baking soda can do:

  1. Make toothpaste. Mix together baking soda and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to make a paste. It can be substituted for your commercial non-fluoride toothpaste!
  2. Get rid of bad breath! Mix a tsp with 1/2 glass water. Swish, gurgle, spit, and rinse. What better way to prep yourself for a date?
  3. At home spa. Why spend money on commercial exfoliants or splurging on a $90 spa session when you can experience it at home? Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Rub onto your skin (face or body) in gentle, circular motion. Rinse to clean. Gentle enough for daily use!
  4. At home spa # 2. Soak your feet after a long day in a tub of warm water with 3 tbsp of baking soda dissolved in it. Scrub gently.
  5. Scrub away on surfaces. Useful for cleaning bathroom tiles, tubs, sinks, even fiberglass or glossy tiles. Simply sprinkle baking soda onto a clean, damp sponge and clean as usual. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry.
  6. End those smelly sponges day. Ever get those nasty-smelling sponges sitting on your sink? I do. Here’s a solution: Soak the sponges in a strong baking soda solution made of 4 parts baking soda and 1 part water.
  7. Clean furnitures. You know how kids love crayons. Love them so much that they gotta use ’em everywhere–on furnitures, floors, and walls. You can remedy this by apply baking soda to a damp sponge and rub lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry towel.
  8. Get fresher, brighter, and cleaner clothes. Simply add 1/2 cup baking soda to your laundry to make your liquid detergent work harder. It balances out the pH!
  9. Get a sweet, clean ride. You can clean your car lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats and floor mats without worrying about leaving scratch marks by combining 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 quart warm water. Apply onto a sponge or soft cloth to remove road grime, tree sap, bugs, and tar.
  10. Smelly stuff go away. You can deodorize pretty much anything with just a sprinkle of baking soda, from refrigerators, shoes (especially flats, girls!), drains, garbage disposals, lunch boxes, cutting board, trashcans, cars, and cat litter boxes (cover bottom of pan with baking soda).
  11. Give your fav stuffed animals a dry shower. Sprinkle baking soda on your cuddly toys. Let sit for 15 min before brushing it off.
  12. Scrub your fruits & veggies! A very food-safe way to clean dirt and residues off your produces. Simply sprinkle some on a damp sponge. Scrub. Rinse.
  13. Remedy insect bites and itchy skin. For insect bites, make a paste out of baking soda and water. Apply onto your skin. For itchy skin, shake some baking soda onto your hand and rub over the itchy area after a shower or bath.
  14. Clean and soften your hands. Some soaps can be harsh on the skin, but not baking soda! Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub onto hands as usual. Then rinse clean.

There are lots of other way to use baking soda in your daily lives, which you can find here. Not only is using baking soda as your household cleaning detergent more environmental-friendly, it is also less hazardous to your overall health (no harsh chemicals!). You can multitask with just one little box of baking soda. Save the environment, save some money!

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I’ll leave you guys with some of my nom’s from the past couple of days.

Spiced apple-curry couscous tossed with pine nuts, cumin-lime baked to (from Eat Drink, & Be Vegan), some steamed broc with nutritional yeast.

Chinese cabbage cooked in veggie broth.

Microwaved then baked sweet potato. 1/2 topped with Sunflower butter and cinnamon, the other 1/2 with yogurt and TJ's spicy hummus.

If you haven’t yet tried sweet potato with Sunflower butter (or Almond butter), it’s high time that you do! Soooooo good!

I may not be able to blog for the next few days, because I will be spending JULY 4th weekend up in San Francisco with these two lovely faces:

Can’t wait!!! 😀

Have a GREAT Independence Day weekend everyone! ❤

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+What are your favorite ways to eat sweet potato? Baked, steamed, mashed, cooked in rice porridge…all so yummy! I’ve seen some sort of sweet potato pie recipe somewhere. Gotta try that sometimes!

Carb overload?

April 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

Oof, I think I’ve indulged in a bit too much carbs today. I’m feeling quite lethargic and weighed down. For breakfast I had oatmeal made from 1/4 cup quick oats, water + soymilk, 1/2 mashed bananas, a scoop of Amazing Grass Chocolate Infusion Powder, all topped with a few crumbles of chocolate brownie (from the dining hall yesterday), a teaspoon flax seeds, a tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt, and sliced strawberries.

Lunch: some brown rice (half a cup? 3/4 cup cooked?) with veggies following Kath’s recipe. I also had about 1/8 cup of chocolate pudding made with Mori-nu’s Lite Firm Tofu and Mori-nu’s Mates chocolate pudding mix. A bit sweet to my taste, but nevertheless yummy! And since it’s blended with tofu it’s a source of protein too.

I had Neurobiology and then a meeting with the Asian American Advisory Board (Ad Board) at 4pm. I had a couple of strawberries, half a slice of Tofurkey, and a bite of TCL Trail Mix Granola. Random, I know. I wasn’t all that hungry but felt I needed some fuel.

For dinner I went to the dining hall and I had a slice of Spinach Quiche, which according to their nutritional info is about 290 calories per serving. I also had about 1/8 cup of some sort of penne pasta mixed with sun dried tomato goodness. This was all topped off with a side salad with organic spring greens, a hard-boiled egg, some olives, three slices cucumbers, a handful of chickpeas, a sprinkle of raisins and sunflower seeds, and fat-free tomato basil dressing. For dessert I had about 5 frosted mini-wheats with about 2 tablespoon of cottage cheese and some cantaloupe. SO FULL AFTER THAT.

At the beginning of orchestra I had to play on a full stomach, which was not at all comfortable. By about 8:30pm, I have partially digested, and playing was easier. All in all, I did not think I played well today. The flutes actually got “yelled” at several times today. Well Dr. Lamkin never yells, but, you know what I mean. I felt horrible. Ever since Ilan and Andrea left, I’ve always felt that I can never be as good as them on the first flute part. I fail at living up expectations of the first flute position 😦

Well well, now it’s 10:19pm and I still got a long night ahead of me. I’m still quite full from my dinner, but I did have half of a strip of wild blueberry Airhead candy bar (just needed some sugar fix, I guess). I almost had a snicker mini-size bar, but managed to resist it. I don’t think I need any more carbs or sugar for that matter today. Tomorrow, a good run or elliptical perhaps? I hope it’s not chilly in the morning.

Anyways, I discovered Kino MacGregor yesterday, and am amazed at how young she got certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois! She started practicing Ashtanga at age 19 (I started at 18), and in merely 10 years age age 29, became certified. This makes her the youngest person alive to be certified! She’s done the third series and is currently working on the fourth. You know how RARE that is?!?!?! To have done the third series AND working on the fourth? There’s probably only a handful of people in the world who can do that!

Kino Macgregor

Oh how I envy her! My dream was to travel to Mysore, India someday and study under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. His death back in May of 2009 was a devastation to the devoted Ashtanga Yogi’s. Needless to say, Kino is now my new inspiration. Ok, Elaine, you are almost done with college. Just hang on one more year, and you can get your teacher’s certificate, travel to India and study Ashtanga to your heart’s desire!

Alright, I’m out. Work work work!

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