Sometime during college, when I had my first introduction into Korean media, I watched what is now one of my favorite movies.  The movie is called Madeleine, and it is your fairly typical Korean movie/drama storyline about a girl and a boy and how they fall in love.  (Not to be confused with the English movie Madeleine, which is about a little girl.)


It’s pretty cute, and I’ve been meaning to rewatch it one of these days.  I don’t quite recall how madeleines even tied into the main storyline (I don’t think it did), but the male lead in the movie enjoys baking and at one point makes some madeleine cookies.


That movie was the first time I had heard of madeleine cookies, and for some reason I fell in love with them and have maintained a happy, longing relationship ever since.  They are incredibly adorable and surprisingly sophisticated.

My first taste of madeleines was supremely disappointing, however.  I saw them once at a Starbucks soon after I watched the movie and was incredibly excited.  (Note: I don’t actually drink coffee, so I never go to Starbucks; hence, I’d never seen them there before.)  Of course, commercialized food is one thing, but I had not quite learned how to eat the madeleine cookies and had expected a completely different taste/texture.  The one from Starbucks had a kind of funny taste, I thought, and I stopped eating them soon after (mostly because I never saw them again).

I’ll pause at this point to explain what madeleine cookies taste like, if you’ve never had one before.  I would describe them as a dense sponge cake: fluffy but heavy at the same time, moist, and sweet, with a distinctly “egg-y” flavor.  They can also be flavored; the most common ones I’ve seen so far are orange, lemon poppyseed, or chocolate chip.  They can also be served plain or dipped in chocolate, as pictured above.

Despite my slavish love for baking (and making ice cream), I don’t enjoy eating most pastries or desserts much and am as picky with what I do like as I am with most food.  Sometime later on, I learned that the cookies could also be eaten dipped in coffee or tea.  That turned out to be supremely tasty in my opinion and is the only way I eat the cookies now.  You may enjoy them by themselves, if you like that kind of texture.  It all depends on preference, but I hope that if you get a chance to try them, you’ll like them one way or another :)

This year was my first time to try baking them.  I made them for someone as part of a Valentine’s Day package, and I must say I was probably most excited to make these because they’ve always been so special to me.  (I still don’t know why, though…)  They turned out pretty well then, and it was then that I first tasted them dipped in tea.  Although they have a relatively simple ingredient list, I’d say that they are easy but not beginner’s level-easy to make, as the process can be arduous and easy to mess up.  Still, they’re not hard, and they’re worth it!

My second time baking them was this past weekend, as I had a sudden whimsical desire to do so and even brought my madeleine pan home from my apartment just for that purpose.  I made Sunday breakfast for my parents, complete with espresso and jasmine tea for dipping (mom made the tea — but I made the espresso).  We also had some fruit on the side, mainly so that they would remember to eat the lone orange I zested for the madeleines.

I don’t have process pictures, but I’ll make sure to take some the next time I make them.  Meanwhile, here is the recipe I used this past time.  You can get a pan either online (Amazon.com) or from a store that sells a little big more specialized kitchen stuff.  I got my pan from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and I really like it.  It’s easy to clean and doesn’t stick, which is always a concern for anything that is baked with a shape.  Highly recommended.

I’ll leave you with more pictures from this past breakfast (because I like taking pictures of food XD).  The recipe provided makes two pans’ worth of madeleines, so I made one set of plain madeleines and a second with orange zest.  My parents liked the orange one better with tea and the plain ones better with the espresso.  Enjoy!

Oops, they’re kind of hole-y.  I think it might be because I left the batter in the fridge for too long (overnight) — the second batch came out prettier, and I had let the batter sit on the counter for a while.

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My daddy is so sweet :)

This weekend, I’m back home.  On Sunday mornings, my parents wake me up for home-made breakfast, sometimes biscuits or French toast or green onion egg pancakes, and we sit together around the little table in our sunlit breakfast room with cups of Jasmine tea.  We used to read newspapers (or ads, or the comics section for me), but we stopped buying those because they got too expensive.  After breakfast, my parents get ready for church, and I usually bum around (like I am now; I usually don’t go to their church, because it’s all in Chinese and talking about kids and marriage, so not only do I not understand most of it, the parts that I do understand won’t be applicable to me for at least another 2 years).  It’s a nice routine whenever I’m at home.

My mom is out of town this weekend, so it’s just me and my dad.  Though it definitely feels like we’re missing a part, it’s still nice to just hang out with daddy.  This morning, he made us some shao bing with pork sung for breakfast.

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My dad usually likes to put mayonnaise in his, and I don’t tend to eat mayonnaise so I always have mine without.  When we were starting to eat, he was inspecting his two shao bing, so I asked him if he was looking for something in particular (they looked the same to me, so I thought he was looking for some special indication of which one to eat first XD).  He told me that he had made one with mayonnaise and one without.  Thinking that we’d run out of mayo or he wanted to be healthier and not eat mayo in both, I asked him why he made one without.  He told me, “In case you want to eat another one.”

My daddy is so sweet ^ ^

He also went out and bought some canned chickpeas yesterday, because I had asked him on one of my typical whimsical cravings if he could make me hummus.  We only had materials for baba ghanoush (made of eggplant), so he actually bought the chickpeas and made me some hummus > <  It looks kind of like this.

And my mom has taken to texting me; I’m actually having a text conversation with her right now XD

I think I’m learning to appreciate my parents more and more as I get older… I think that’s a good thing :3

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:D

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My parents and I took Alli (short for Alligator) — our new black lab, who’s about a year old and 75 pounds of whiny, overly excitable, largely untrained, has-more-energy-than-1,000-Energizer-batteries puppy — to the park to fish and walk around this morning.  Although the sky was lit by the time we got there, I still got some nice pictures of the first sun rays across the cloud-spotted sky :3  It’s so beautiful!  I could even see the edges of the clouds glowing from the backlit sunrise.

We think the park is probably too distracting for the dog, so we didn’t get to train her much (we’re trying to teach her to “stay” and “heel”).  She was pretty good though, just far too excited for me XD  I’ll take my cats, thanks.  Or maybe I’m just not used to dogs >__<

We also caught 2 fish, a crocker and a fairly large catfish, one each by my mom and dad.  It was really windy and apparently late in the season (something about the lake waters being too warm), so I’m surprised we caught anything at all.

So this weekend is Father’s Day, which is why we went out so early.  Part one of “Father’s Day weekend” gift, I suppose?  My dad enjoys fishing, so it’s nice for us to go out bright and early on Saturday morning as a family so he can relax and fish :)  Part two of the “gift” is lunch/dinner, I suppose, though we’re all so lax that we have no idea where to go :P  That’s okay.

Otherwise, my only decent gift tends to baking or making ice cream XD  My mom recently got an ice cream machine, so we’re planning to make some mint ice cream — hopefully it’ll be ready by tomorrow.  I’m also planning to make basil & Parmesan scones for breakfast tomorrow ^w^  I’m a slow baker/ice cream maker, so I hope they turn out well and don’t take the whole day >__<

I think that people need fuel to live.  I don’t mean the basic necessities like food, water, and sleep.  I mean the things that really keep people running: love, hope, ambition, self-worth, purpose, friendship… the things that make the difference between “living” and “just barely breathing.”

But there are times when none of those are readily available.  What are you supposed to do in a situation like that?  I think that when you really feel that those things are gone and unattainable, when you’re running out of fuel, you have two choices.  You can give up, as so many people needlessly do, or you run on the only thing you have left — willpower.

To me, willpower isn’t really in the same category as the others.  I got these questionably useful definitions from an online dictionary:

willpower [ˈwɪlˌpaʊə]
n

1. the ability to control oneself and determine one’s actions
2. firmness of will

Er, okay, that didn’t really help.  Especially the second one, which breaks all the good rules of defining words, but anyways.  I would define “willpower” as more along the lines of doing something, or continuing to do something, to eventually attain a goal, despite the fact that you have no hope or self-worth or any of the other good stuff.  And you don’t know why you’re still going, but maybe it’s just because if you don’t do it, you don’t know what else to do, and then maybe there really is nothing left.

Sorry, this post is sounding a lot more depressing than I meant it to >__<;;

I was just thinking about people who have clinical depression, or lose their lives by their own hand, because they lost their fuel.  But I don’t think that it’s completely up to a person to make that fuel for themselves.  Most of the time, that fuel is derived from something external to a person: from religion, from family, from friends.

Of course, it is up to a person to take what is given and use it as fuel, and everyone needs to have their own self-drive for any of those things to work.  But I don’t agree with the people who say that it’s all up to “you” and you can’t depend on anyone else or expect them to do anything for you, and nobody has any responsibility for anybody else.  No offense to people who do believe in that, but to me it sounds like the talk of someone who has nothing and is just trying to convince themselves that life can be lived alone, or someone who has been given everything and therefore doesn’t know how hard it is to get anything.

Sorry for the um, semi-depressing sort of too opinionated babble.  I’m not really sure what I meant to say in this post, but it was just a thought that was rattling around in my head.

I would like to introduce you to the newest two members of my family:

These are Myrrh ~Mistletoe~ (left) and Noel (right) Jubilee.  They are of the family San-X, genus Nyanko, species Kutusitanyanko.  Myrrh and Noel are brothers, and they were born on 2010 December 25 (Christmas).

Myrrh is the older brother, and he is a quiet nyanko.  He is thoughtful and kind but is sometimes seen as a bit distant or hard to read, because he takes a long time to warm up.  Once you get to know him, he is a joker and sometimes a “class clown” type (that is why his nickname is Mistletoe).  He likes to watch out for his younger brother.  His favorite color is red, and his favorite food is fish with bones.

Noel is the younger brother.  He is also pretty quiet because he is shy, but he is also very sweet and caring.   Sometimes he is mistaken for a girl nyanko because of his personality.  He likes to cook and draw, and he can often be found doing small things for others or sitting alone and thinking.  He looks up to his older brother and sometimes wishes to be more like him.  His favorite color is white, and his favorite food is chicken pasta.

I don’t know them that well because they are new, but I hope that as time progresses, we will be close family :3

(By the way, I was inspired to properly name and quickly establish the personalities of these two by my friend Iris ^w^  She has these adorable special edition(?) polar bears that each have their own names and personalities.)

Okay, sorry for the macabre blog title, but I couldn’t help it XD

My parents recently went to a conference in Taiwan, and they visited some friends and relatives there, including my mom’s youngest brother.  He’s a very sweet man, although I really don’t know him well anymore since we live so far away and I rarely get to visit, and he’s always concerned about what to get for us as gifts.  When I was younger, he brought me an old school (at that time, newest console, I think) Nintendo system.  (I don’t know where that is now, but I have a severely aching longing for it.  I hope my mom didn’t give it away with all my other PRECIOUS artifacts QQ…)  The last time I went back to Taiwan, he gave me this gorgeous pearl necklace and earring set.  This time, my mom and I both said to him not to worry about gifts!  He’s really too sweet.

Anyways, instead of something big, this time he only got something small but very cute.  For my dad and me, he got USB flash drives.

One explanatory note: my parents refer to me in Chinese as “monkey,” and consequently the things they (and my uncle, apparently) get me are often monkey-shaped.  I sort of forgot about this recently, since I’m now used to my friend Daniel being the monkey and me being a kitty, but I was reminded when my parents gave me the items they got from Taiwan.  Oh, the reason they call me this is because when I was a little kid, I used to imitate them to learn, like a monkey imitates.  Or so they say.  Anyways, I’m a monkey.

So my uncle got a monkey-shaped USB drive for me.  It’s quite adorable.

He even has this little dangling USB holder thing.

You can probably see where this is going.  Because there is only one possible way to use this as a USB drive.

That’s right, you have to decapitate the monkey.

In use as a USB drive:

And you can make sure the monkey’s body and head don’t get too far away from each other by putting the dangling USB shape into the body, where the monkey’s head should be.

I must admit I was a bit disturbed by this when I first started using it.  Now, I just think it’s kind of funny.  Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that a little odd but also a little funny?

Asians always make the most interesting things :3