May 23rd – “Nature nurtures your soul to its very roots.”

IMG_9073[1]Seven years ago, I spent four months in Hong Kong. It wasn’t my first trip overseas, but it was my first time staying in the city for more than two weeks. It was then that I realized that I did not want to live in a city anymore. I lived in the suburbs of Hong Kong and even that was too crowded for me. Yes, it was convenient place filled with all sorts of amenities, but I would have traded the air conditioning for peace and quiet. A New Yorker I met  once described Hong Kong as “New York on steroids” and I think that it’s an accurate description.

I’m sure my city friends will be annoyed at me for saying this: I think there is something dehumanizing about city life. The city eats away at my soul. It makes me wait in endless traffic, rush from one place to another, and buy $3.50 croissants and teas for breakfast without hesitation.

San Francisco is much slower than Hong Kong, but sometimes when I’m there I feel like I am disappearing into the masses, and the city is using my soul as its energy source. Perhaps I don’t have the same defenses I once had when I was young, or maybe Hong Kong broke me.

On the days that I’m home, I spend my time admiring the flowers and plants I help grow. I have been planting vegetables for the past five years and only started bringing flowers into the mix last year. Boy, it makes a huge difference!

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The little fig trees I have aren’t flowering yet, so I too some dried figs to make a new recipe.  

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Fig Bars

Filling

⅔ cup to 1 cup water

8 oz pack of dried figs, diced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup

 

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in pot and gently boil for about 7 minutes on low heat. The filling is ready when it is a thick jam consistency.

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Dough

⅓ cup shortening

⅔ cup maple sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cup flour

1 ¼ cup wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

A few dashes of salt

1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening, sugar together until smooth. I didn’t do a good job on mine, so there were little specks of shortening!
  2. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. If dough is dry, add a teaspoon of water one at a time until the dough sticks together.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll dough into a 14 x 14 inch square. Cut into four long pieces.
  7. Add filling to middle, then fold both sides to cover filling.
  8. Place bars seam side down, and bake for 14 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice.

Original recipe here.

April 23rd- “The moon is sashaying through Pisces and your flamboyant fifth house, coaxing you to add more color to your world.“

My yard is wild and unkempt. In nearly every corner of the yard, you’ll find patches of weeds which help keep beetles, spiders, and other critters hidden from plain view. This doesn’t prevent colorful flowers from springing up.

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I clipped a few sprigs of color and brought them inside to enjoy for the rest of the day.

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February 24th – “Don’t let your friends talk you into buying something you don’t need.”

My lunch time walking buddy declared that Fridays should be $3.00 banh mi and $5.00 flowers day.

I didn’t need either and she didn’t try to persuade me. I was stuck with leftover reject zucchini pasta for lunch today, so I didn’t get the banh mi.

I did pick up this bouquet.

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It wasn’t an impulse buy. She informed me about the flowers the day before so I had time to decide.

I like supporting small businesses and this one qualified. I don’t mean that metaphorically (like “mom and pop” stores or “hole in the walls” aka not so pretty places/non-chain businesses. Someone once brought me to a mom and pop store that was the size of a Walmart). It was literally a tiny store. The entire storefront was only 10 x 8 feet! I find it endearing and fascinating when people find ways to maximize use of limited spaces. It’s takes talent and imagination!

I’ve also never gotten flowers for myself before, so I thought I would give it a try. It would be nice to have something pretty at home while I spend most of the weekend inside.