January.  When did you arrive and where did you go?  Our life has been a quiet one here.  I have been fighting this cold for half of the month.  I am sure I have coughed more than I have talked.  Here is to better winter days.



Stories of my grandmothers

I have two sets of grandparents just from my mother's side.  It is an interesting story that if I invest enough time, it would makes for a great novel.  From snippets of story and through conversations, I gathered that my biological grandmother comes from a poor village family and when she was in her teens, she came to her cousin of some distant relation's home to help.  This cousin of hers was wealthy and educated and married to a doctor.  Of course this was during the time when Burma was still a British colony.  They lived in a beautiful grand Victorian home with a garden surrounding the whole property.  They seem to have it all except they couldn't have any children.  The story goes that my grandmother was arranged to get married at the age of seventeen to a local jail warden.  She would then have five children and each child was adopted by her cousin.  My grandmother continued to live in her cousin's home and took care of the house and its residents.  My mother and her siblings were loved and raised by two sets of parents who were in their own ways were polar opposites.  I never really got a chance to get to know my grandfathers but my two grandmothers were important figures in my life.  These two women would continue to raise these children and took care of one another long after their husband's deaths and until my Mommy Gyi (my mother's adopted mother) death.  What I remember most about Mommy Gyi is her loves for antiques and decorating.  Every weekend, I woke up to the sounds of furniture moving.  Of course what I remember the most about my other grandmother, Mommy Choe, is her love for cooking.  I can't though figure out if she loves cooking because she truly loves food or if her love stems from spending her whole life in the kitchen and that is where she now feels comfortable most.  She takes great pride in each dishes.  To this day, she wakes up with the sun rise to walk through local farmer market for her ingredients.  She plans each meal thoughtfully to make sure the vegetable dish would compliments the main meat dish and the soup would enhance the flavor of the side dishes.  Her daughters would beg her to relax and not cook anymore but she ends up sneaking into the kitchen and pushing the cooks out of the kitchen anyway.

I think my grandmother's favorite thing to do is to stand next to you as you take your first bite of the meal.  She watches you with such intensity.  I can tell you that even before each flavor burst in my mouth, I know every bite of her food would be delicious.  Even my father, who is very hard to please, will tell everyone that no one can cook as well as his mother in law.

Sometimes I wonder if half the fun in cooking is actually watching other people enjoy your meals.  Every time I fry the chili oil or find some wonderful treasures at a flea market, I feel I am closer to my grandmothers.  Of course, whenever I cook for friends and I find myself staring intensely as they take their first bites and feel a rush of such excitement. I think to myself how the blood and the memories of these two women are rooted so stronger in my identity.

Recipe courtesy of www.cookingforkeeps.com

Spicy Pumpkin and Butternut Ramen
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4
Serving Size: 1 bowl
Easy, thai-style homemade ramen at home and in under 30 minutes!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 fresno chile (or more depending on your spice tolerance), thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 small chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound)
  • 3 ounces chinese ramen noodles (not fried)
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms and chiles, sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add salt and butternut squash. Cook another minute.
  3. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, red curry paste and chicken. Reduce heat to a simmer until chicken is cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred.
  4. Add chicken back to the pot along with noodles.
  5. Cook until noodles are soft.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with sliced chiles and cilantro.



As the first ray of day light slowly drifts through the living room, my  bare feet move through the shadows.  All is quiet except for the noise of this old house waking itself up slowly and the excitement of the dogs who are ready to escape through the back door and into the cold morning for a run.  

Just like yesterday and the day before that, my body moves through the motions of the day.  However if I am mindful enough, in the sameness of everyday, I find life's little pleasures.

Here is just a glimpse of small bits of my day.

I love sitting at Bella's desk and look through her art book.  I am constantly blown away by how amazing children's imagination can be.

I am rarely alone but when I do get a chance to be by myself, I truly cherish it.

Today is one of those days.



Turban on. Turban off

I have to tell you.  I have been wanting to write this post for a very long time.  It is about turbans and my love for them.  Everytime I start writing it, I get overwhelmed with excitement and I can't seem to just pick a few inspiration pictures from my archive of hundreds and hundreds of turban pictures.  I don't know where or when my obsession with turbans started.  I assume it started with my grandmother as she truly is the most chicest woman I know.  I have collections of scarves I picked up from flea markets over the years and they come in handy for those days when you don't feel like doing your hair.  I guess I have a lot of those days because I find myself sporting a turban most days.


Can you believe the top two portraits of yours truly is taken by Bella?  She styled me then told me how to pose.  She was so excited that I let her use my big girl camera.

Here is Bella rocking her turban.  Just in case you are not convinced yet to try a turban I found inspirations of women of all ages rocking turbans.  I found all of these pictures from pinterest.

If you are thinking that these women can wear a turban because they are young, I have to tell you some of the chicest women I have seen wearing turbans are beautiful older women.

How beautiful are they?  If a full turban seems intimidating then try a half turban.

Here are a few ways you can wrap a turban courtesy of pinterest.

So pour yourself a glass wine and go through that stash of scarves you have hoarding ( I know you have it.)  Have fun and rock that turban!