A little piece of home. Coconut chicken noodle soup

Memory.  The word itself is small but the meaning and the substance behind the word memory is so unbearably vast, isn't it?  Someone once asked me if I dream in Burmese or English.  I found I couldn't answer that question because not only do I not remember my dreams but because my Burmese and American identities are so immersed together.  If I am going to be really honest though, my memories of Burma and who I was then seem like a very distance memory that I keep trying to hold onto.  What I do remember are smells...smell of monsoon rain...intoxicating sense of jasmine...always present smell of food.  I sometimes wake up in the morning under my thick comforter expecting to smell the fragrance of shallots and garlic being fried in a bubbling oil over a very old and beat up wok.  There is a sense of disappointment and slow rising of home sickness that crawl up from the pit of my stomach.  That feeling is always fleeting and most of the time, I wake up thinking it to be part of a dream.  So much of my feeling toward my birth place is engulfed with my love for food.  It is the single most important part of my memories of home.  When I close my eyes to conjure up whatever fragment of my past, I smell my grandmother and mother's home cooked meals.  I hear the laughter of my mother and her sisters that never cease to bring such comfort into my soul. Their wonderful conversations of sisterhood always happen around the dinner table or around food.  As a child, I felt so lucky to be apart of this sisterhood of strength and unbreakable love.  The fact of the matter is Burmese people are just obsessed with food.  I don't think they would wake up in the morning if they knew there wouldn't be a good hearty breakfast to be eaten.  We discuss what we are going to eat for lunch while sipping our sweet morning coffee.  We plan out our tea time treats while preparing our lunch.  We make plans for dinner during our tea time.  Of course between those times, we find ourselves snacking on delicious street snacks.

You can walk down any street and find the most delicious and freshly made food.



If I could go back in time, I would wake up with the rising of the morning sun and walk around street market with my grandmother to shop for the day's menu.  Every morning, my little grandmother would wake up at 5 to walk to our local market.  No body can stop her.  I think cooking is such a huge part of her identity.



If I could go back in time, I would ask those strong women of mine to teach me all that other previous strong women of theirs have taught them.  I know now that what I know of my culture is so little and what I want of my home is too much.  Almost everyday I cook Burmese food at home.  I love it when friends come over and ask for a Burmese dish I have cooked for them.  I love the excitement of all my food loving friends who circle around my stove while taking turns tasting the food right out of the pot...for you know, just to see how it tastes.  : )  I cannot explain to you the joy I feel in those moments when I feel like my grandmother or mother...for in those moments, I feel closest to them.  This dish is very special to my heart.  It is called coconut chicken noodle soup or in Burmese, Ohn No Khao Swe.  People usually make this dish for special occasions but you can find many little street vendors making this delicious soup as a breakfast item.

I have not met one person who doesn't love this soup.  If you like coconut, you will love this.  It is the perfect cold day soup.  Just like in most Asian soups, garnishes are the most essential and fun part of the meal.

I always cook myself a huge pot of this thinking it will last me a few days but somehow it is gone in a day.  I cannot tell you how many calories are in this soup but I can assure you it is not for the faint of heart. : )

Next time you feel like you don't know what to cook for the day, I hope you give this soup a try.  


- 1 large onion
-2 small cloves of garlic
-4 tbsp of vegetable oil
-1 tbsp of paprika
-1 tbsp of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper <optional>
-1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken <I use chicken thighs but you can use breasts also.>
-4 tbsp of fish sauce <if you don't have fish sauce, you can use salt but fish sauce is the BOMB>
-1 can of coconut milk <not the kind that you find at the refrigerated section but the kind you can find in an Asian food section.  It comes in a tin can.>
-1 can of evaporated milk
-32 oz of chicken broth
-egg noodle


-boiled eggs
-sliced shallot
-red pepper flakes
-lemon juice


Cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Finely chop onion and garlic.  Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat then sauteed onion and garlic mixture until they become translucent.  Put paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper into the pot and stir until fragrant.  Put chicken and cook for about five minutes.  Put a tbsp of fish sauce and mix with the chicken.  Stir in coconut milk and evaporated milk and cook for three minutes or so.  You can really smell the coconut just about now and it is like heaven.  Then pour in chicken broth and fish sauce and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cover your pot and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Season to taste.  When you are ready to eat, put the cooked egg noodle into a bowl and pour the soup over it.  Then garnish it with sliced boiled egg, cilantro, shallot, chili flaked and squeeze some lemon juice and enjoy!

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Darling, just own it.

I live and breathe for fashion.  Back in my college days, I used to have a weekly fashion and beauty column in my college newspaper.  I could spend hours just flipping through fashion magazines.  I do have one confession to make.  I love menswear more than girly clothing.  I have this creepy habit of walking into men clothing stores and just browse.  I do mental notes of how I would put the outfits together with a bit of feminine touch.  I thought it would be fun to do a weekly fashion column again on this blog.  I am attracted to minimalist menswear inspired clothing or simply menswear chic.  It is a bit tricky living here in New England where most of the time, it is too cold to wear anything "nice."  Here are my essentials for dressing chic in cold weather.  Always invest in a gorgeous coat.  You could be wearing sweats and with the right coat, you will always be casual chic.  I found this amazing over size swing coat with fur collar at a vintage shop this weekend.

 The coat comes down to my mid calf and it is the perfect combination of menswear inspired and old Hollywood glam.

I cannot tell you how many coats I have.  And darlings, do me a favor and get yourself a hat.  I mean it!  There is nothing more glamorous and mysterious than a woman wearing a hat.  I collect felt fedoras in all colors and sizes.  Oh, you forgot to wash your hair?  Put that hat on.  Say what?  You haven't put on a speck of make up?  Put that hat on!  This fedora is new to my collection.  I usually wear all black but I thought this olive green would bring a little more color into my world.

I love the black trim around the edge too.

I put the rest of the outfit together with a tan leather ankle boots and a few accessories.

To me, red lipstick is the perfect accessory.  Chanel makes the best matte red lipsticks that are not drying and stay on longer.  I rarely wear accessories but when I do they are usually black or gold and nothing too girly.  These pair of round mod sun glasses just complete the whole outfit.  

 Here is the whole look again.

Remember there is nothing more attractive than a woman who knows herself.  Darling, Just own it.



Where I work

How do you create?  Where do you create?  I am all over the house...all over the map.  My brain goes in a million different directions yet I can't seem to focus on one thing.  I go in phases of creating non stop...chasing the high then I stop.  After the high comes the low where I am unmotivated and uninspired.  Some people call it winter blue...I call it my dormant phase.  For the last few weeks, I have been cleaning out our guest room and slowly turning it into my work room.  We get guests like once a year and I felt like it was a waste of space to have a guest room while I find myself all over the house trying to find a place to work.  I sew on my computer table.  I reupholster in my dinning room.  I paint in my kitchen.  So now at least I will have my own "little space."

This room is probably the smallest room in our house.  As much as I would love to decorate it and makes it pretty, I want it to be functional.  I need it to be a place where I can create and be inspired.  I am not the most organized person.  So it only makes sense that my work room would be a bit of a chaos perfection.

Nothing fancy.  Simple necessities.  I painted one wall with chalkboard paint to jot down ideas for whatever project I am working on.  Right now it is this ornate wing chair project.

I want the room to feel like a bit like a flower shop.  Flowers inspire me.  They make me happy.  I printed out old botanical drawings and simply taped them to the wall.  I am sure this wall will be constantly changing with new inspirations.

I got this gorgeous work table with a metal surface at my favorite vintage shop called The Trading Post.  I just love the original patina.  I spent many hours looking through pinterest for inspirations for the work room.  I saw loads of beautifully decorated and neatly organized work rooms but what attracted me the most were rooms with characters.

I also got this vintage bookcase with the glass door at the Trading Post.  I am loving this dark wood look...to paint or not to paint...that is always the question.

The girls helped me move things around.  By that I mean they wanted me to take pictures of them.

This picture of Aurora really crack me up because this is the phase we are going through right now.  You know "the face" phase.  Of course Lily is the perfect model.

There is nothing fancy about where I work.  It is however a place for me to enter and be surrounded by tools that allow me to do what I love to do...create.  I like the idea of giving new life to cast away pieces.  I like to re imagine and transform them into something beautiful and well loved.  Here is a project I am working on right now and this is how she started out.

Here she is half way through.

I am going to gold leaf the entire chair to really bring out the gold.  The final fabric is going to be the most beautiful dark plum velvet.  Hopefully I can show you the final product soon.  We are taking it slow this week.  Our B moved to sunny California for an amazing job opportunity and of course we are missing him tremendously.  Everything simply reminds me of him.


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Adventures inside a snow globe

This winter snow has brought me to my knees...I mean literally.  After another day of snowing non stop, I had hoped our local snow plowing company would plowed our drive way in time for me to take the girls to school the next morning.  I woke up at six thirty the next morning and it hasn't been plowed yet.  I wanted to cry.  So I went outside and started shoveling away.  The snow was probably about three feet high.  It felt almost impossible for my body to keep going and the harder it became, the madder I got.  That is the thing with mind and body, isn't it?  The mind kept going and telling you how strong you are yet your body just simply couldn't keep up.  In the middle of shoveling, I started crying...not the cute kind but like ugly sobbing kind.  Of course as people slowly drove by, they saw this crazy Asian woman crying like somebody just died in her leopard print robe.  They would make these sad faces at me.  At some point, one of my neighbors came out with his shovel and the moment I saw him walked over, it made me so sad and I cried even harder from gratitude.  This poor man, I am sure at this point, thought to himself, "crazy lady alert! Is it too late to turn around?"  Anyway, he helped me shovel and I was so grateful.  As he was leaving, he said, "Just remember, you are not alone."  Holy Shizzit, I lost it.  I have this "I am never a victim nor helpless and I am a woman and hear me roar" type of mentality.  At that moment though I realized how helpless and alone I felt.  I let myself cried and gave myself a chance to come to term with how I was feeling at the moment.  Then I picked myself up and moved on because that simply is how life works.  Anyway, that is my venting for the day.  Can we move on to happier stuffs?  Like this Valentine's day photo shoot I did for a local bakery.

So many goodies.  That flour less chocolate almond cake is out of this world amazing.  I realized I haven't done a lot of furniture make over lately.  I am still working on the chairs.  Lately I just want to bake.  I don't know what it is.  Recently though I took the girls to The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  We stopped by Amy's Maison Decor Shop on the way to say Hi and for me to pick up some appliques for my chairs.  Her shop is just filled with so much prettiness and inspirations. Here are a few pictures I took.


I could live in her shop.  The girls, of course, loved to touch everything and I was terrified they were going to break some thing.  We spent a few hours at the museum and for little kids, I am sure that was more than enough.  It was so wonderful to see them absorbing everything around them and asking questions about different paintings and painting methods.  I thought Bella would enjoy the experience so much more than Aurora but she just wanted to sit and draw.  Aurora, on the other hand, walked up to every single painting and wanted me to read every description.

Look how tiny she looks compared to the paintings.

As I am typing this post, it is snowing out.  All I want to do is crack open a coconut and pretend I am far far away.