The best way to cut a watermelon

A couple of weeks ago, Tim and I hosted some friends for brunch and I wanted to make a watermelon salad with mint (which is fabulous by the way if you want to make an easy side that isn’t heavy, but don’t feel like really eating rabbit food). I always wanted to cut melons in a perfect cube but never figured out how to not end up with with lots of triangles with round bottoms. I chalked it up as a guarded culinary school secret (not unlike the many secrets that inhabit the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizzardry).

Thank God for YouTube because seeing this video  changed my watermelon cutting life. I wanted to call every one of my friends and ask them if they knew about this! If you knew about this and kept it to yourself this whole time, shame on you. Tell someone. Tell anyone. You will forever change their life.

IMG_2476

First you must cut off the ends and using a big sharp knife, “peel” the watermelon.

IMG_2477

I don’t know why this picture seems inappropriate to me, but here it is, a naked watermelon! Notice how very little red flesh ended up on the rind.

IMG_2478

This is the best part. Start making graph paper with your watermelon.

IMG_2479

Perfectly cubed watermelon!

I ended up with too much watermelon and not enough tupperware space so I dumped it in a pitcher and added water.

I ended up with too much watermelon and not enough tupperware space so I dumped it in a pitcher and added water.

Advertisements

Happy Four Years to Us.

Four years ago today I married Tim.

0725090565

There’s a lot to say about that day but one of my favorite moments happened during the ceremony. Our pastor encouraged us to write letters to each other and on the day, he would read them on our behalf (brilliant). Ever since then, Tim and I exchange anniversary letters every year. When we were doing pre-marital counseling, one of the conversations we had was how we receive love. I sheepishly admitted that yes I love words… but I love me a written word! There is something about the written word that fills my love tank to full. I think it’s because I can hold it, mull over it and remind myself of it. Written words are so special because they are prompted not by a social cues (as spoken words often are) but by affections of the heart.

To commemorate our four years, I dug up my letter I wrote to Tim on our 0 year anniversary:

Timothy,

First of all, before I forget to tell you today, you look really great in your tux!  All that working out with P90X really paid off!

Tim, I am excited to be standing next to you today.  I don’t know if I have told you this, but when I was in 9th grade, I planned out my wedding down to what the cake’s flavor would be.  Since then, about once a year, I dreamt about walking down the aisle with my dad and then getting to the top of the aisle and seeing a man in a tux with his face blurred out.  It would scare me out of my slumber every single time.  When you asked me to marry you, those nightmares stopped.  My excitement about the perfect wedding evolved to excitement about marrying you.

Tim, I love you. 

I love that you are a good friend to the people around you.  I love that you are always down for adventure and are totally responsible as you are.  I love that for you the reason behind doing something is just as important as the act itself. I love that you love to eat. I love how your smile takes up your whole face. I love hearing about you talk about God because it always makes me want to love Him in bigger and new ways.

Thank you Tim for giving me a clearer picture of how Jesus loves me.  Thank you for wanting the best for us no matter the cost.  Thank you for loving peace. 

Though dating you has been immensely fun and growing, I hear that this marriage stuff is a million times more fun and growing.  I’m looking forward to walking beside you through it all.  I want to be a wife that lightens the load of life for you every day.  I want to be the bringer of encouragement, comfort and joy your heart… all this while being the president of the Tim Sohn Fan Club.

I have no idea what God has in store for us, but I know that if we make Jesus all of our hope and all of our joy, we’ll be more than okay.  I love you and I couldn’t be happier that it’s your hand that I’m holding today.

Finally yours,

Candy

Weekend Recap – Crossfit Competition

I participated in my first Crossfit competition this weekend! Our gym has six locations and this was our first inter-gym competition hence the name Bro-Down! It wasn’t just for the bros, but it was supposed to emphasize the sibling rivalry-ness of the event. Each team consisted of two guys and two girls and as a team you have to complete two sets of workouts. The best part is that you get to do it as a TEAM. So for example as a team we had to complete 100 kettlebell swings as one of the workouts. I love them so it was easier for me to do more than my share of 25. In another workout, we had to throw a 14lb. medicine ball 10 feet in the air. My team graciously did my share since I’m vertically challenged and that height would’ve killed me!

Here are a few pics from the day:

Image

team box jump overs!

Image

This part of the workout KILLED ME. I’m pretty sure this is workout is done in Hades every day.

Image

I can’t even keep up with Tim without a kettlebell. And yes that is my “OMG. 3 MORE OF THESE?!” pain face.

Image

How awesome is this. Your team is allowed help you do pullups! We have no shame. I was going to sit on Tim’s shoulders and he was going to squat me but this was a lot faster. And it allowed me to do 100 pullups! Which is about 95 more than I could do on my own.

Last but not least… here is my 2nd proudest achievement this summer (first being the Cronut of course):

IMG_2700

I am the mayor of Norcal Crossfit Mtn. View!

Channeling my inner Ina Garten: Part 1 – The Shopping

I love Ina Garten! She is an amazing cook and I love her simple, understated and elegant style. (Oh to be from the Hamptons!) I love that on the show, she’s always cooking for her husband Jeffrey. She always says things like “Jeffrey just LOVES these marcona almonds.” or “I think Jeffrey will really enjoy this roasted lemon chicken” or “I just can’t wait until Jeffrey comes home and tries chocolate pudding!” I think that is so sweet and honestly, a lot of the reason why I enjoy cooking is because I am married to a guy that appreciates my cooking so much regardless of what I put in front of him.

Image

Usually Mondays I spend the morning meal-planning by looking through my favorite cookbooks, blogs and magazines and planning out a menu for the week. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Image

And my favorite cooking blogs:

  • The Pioneer Woman http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/ (I just love her personality and how yummy her food is)
  • Nom Nom Paleo http://nomnompaleo.com/ (This woman made me think that maybe, just maybe I can eat Paleo. Many paleo blogs had recipes that seriously looked GROSS. Sometimes it seemed like eating like a caveman necessitates that you have a palate like a caveman. I like that she is a MAJOR foodie. I think that gives her recipes a lot of credibility.

After I am sufficiently starving from looking at food for an hour, I grab my bags and do something that I swear only a person who has nothing to do every day can do: I hit up the San Antonio and El Camino corner go to four grocery stores. Here’s the order I hit them up in:

  1. The Milk Pail (Loves: Cheese, herb bundles for $1, produce on the CHEAP; Gripes: This can’t be your one-stop-shop because the meat section is pitiful, the produce has usually started their sunset season in life and must be consumed PRONTO)
  2. Trader Joe’s (Loves: Frozen fruit selection (I dont’ know where else I can get frozen pineapples for under $2 and frozen mangos for under $3), hummus, bananas, emergency entertaining foods, milk, butter, cheese, pantry staples: chicken broth, prewashed and bagged kale/spinach, spaghetti sauce, sparkling water, Orangina; Gripes: Though better than the Milk Pail, the meat selection leaves me wanting, produce is hit/miss, EVERYTHING is packaged (lots of waste)
  3. Whole Foods (Loves: The MEAT, coconut water selection, hot food bar, yogurt selection, one-stop-shopness of it, variety of produce; Gripes: $$$$$$$)
  4. Sprouts (Loves: the bulk bins!!!, nuts, consistently good and cheap produce, bulk spices; Gripes: the meat)
Image

This was my Milk Pail loot from a couple weeks ago. All of this came out to $7.

Image

But I quickly undid the awesomeness of the Milk Pail by hopping to Whole Foods. This loot cost me $51.42. #stupidmeat

Up next: my favorite recipes of the summer!

Tshirt Upcycling

I have a t-shirt problem.

I have an entire drawer devoted to t-shirts that I can’t bear to part with. It’s not that they are particularly comfortable, flattering or soft. It’s that each shirt is emblazoned with a memory or experience that I SWEAR will be lost in the black hole of my memory if I were to give it to Goodwill. 

Let’s examine the embarrassing evidence: 

Image

Not only do I have my own college and high school t-shirts, I also collect high school t-shirts as an adult. Also they don’t tell you about this in teaching school… but every year you will spend at least $100 dollars supporting your students by buying cookie dough, over-priced grocery bags and t-shirts that say that you adopted a JV basketball player.

The next four randomly selected t-shirts:

Image

Top left: In college we made t-shirts for our Navlympics. This is the one some of friends made for me complete with a Golden Gate Bridge to taunt my SoCal roots.
Top right: Every Silicon Valley Girl has to rep her favorite startup!
Bottom left: When I saw Jeremy Lin play at Madison Square Garden and saw this t-shirt for sale, I just HAD TO HAVE IT. (We share the same Chinese character for our last name)
Bottom right: Camp t-shirts GALORE. Please excuse the sorta creepy theme. It makes sense if you read Matthew chapter 4. I am not saying come follow me. JESUS is saying come follow me.

(Once I realized I’d have to refold every t-shirt I laid on the floor to photograph, I stopped at eight but trust me when I say that there are dozens more.)

I know that t-shirts are great for sleeping and working out but realized I don’t like sleeping with sleeves (I am the friend who is always complaining that it is TOO HOT). In terms of work out clothes, once discovered the glories of Lululemon, I have a hard time reaching for a tshirt when I can grab a tank/sportsbra/sweat-wicking/performance enhancing all-in-one top! Everyone has their favorite gear that they keep reaching for. Sorry clothes, it’s just the way it is. I have favorites.

I started trolling around Pinterest to see what useful thing I could do with my t-shirts that would excuse me from giving them away.

First I was tempted by this:

Image

 

But then I remembered two very important facts:

  1. I already have five “TV” throws/blankets.
  2. I struggle with sewing straight.

Then my eyes saw this:

Holy batman. Functional, cute AND free??

This is the tutorial I followed. Here’s my version:

1. Cut the t-shirt.

Image

2.  Sew the rounded end. I used a zig-zag stitch because I heard it’s stronger. Notice how forgiving this project is because you don’t need to sew straight.  

Image

 

3. You can flip it inside out or not.  Start cutting slits into your bag. This is when you thank yourself for spending the extra $2 bucks and buying a rotary cutter. 

Image

4. Stretch and pull the bag.

Image

It’s really hard to take selfies while pulling both ends of a bag.

5. Donezo! I brought these bags to NY and they were great for as a laundry bag, shoe bag or a back up shopping bag.Image

Downton Abbey Marathon

Image

My favorite British TV family.

When January 2013 rolled around, I was SO EXCITED to watch the upcoming season of Downton Abbey. Before I started the series, I was nervous that I wouldn’t like it because I don’t have the most sophisticated taste in TV shows or movies. Often when my friends are talking about the intricate plot lines of Breaking Bad, House of Cards and Mad Men, I am trying to predict who the bachelorette will pick as the final four for the hometown dates. Upon reflection, I think I am attracted to Downton for some of the same reasons I like the Bachelor/Bachelorette. 

  • I like following multiple love stories (Anna and Bates, Lord and Lady Grantham, Mary and Matthew, Sybil and Branson)
  • I have a penchant for drama (Mary)
  • I am amused by petty girl bickering (Cousin Isobel and Cousin Violet)
  • I like a good villain (Thank you Thomas)

To compare the two any more than that would be sacrilege so I’ll stop there. 

I have gotten quite behind in watching season 3 of Downton Abbey because it started up again in the throes of the school year. Not only that, it would air on Sunday Nights at 9pm which is far too late for me to start anything meaningful. One of my summer must-do’s was to watch the entire third season. I had rented a copy from the library and it’s due tomorrow so I did what any reasonable person would do: I watched Downton Abbey from 9pm to 5pm. Though I am glad that I finally got around to it, I am feeling a little sad about the futility of life and a little freaked out about eclampsia. 

Now I must console myself with some ice cream and the Bachelorette. 

Image

Muggle Problems

Image

I love you Harry Potter.

Topping the list on my “30” before “30” is reading the entire Harry Potter series FOR THE FIRST TIME. I am pleased to report that I am on Book Four. However I am starting to feel so sad that I’m reaching the midpoint in the series that I have contemplated taking a break to make it last longer. Then my addictive nature kicks in and says SCREW IT. GIVE ME MORE HOGWARTS. I have been so obsessed with Harry Potter for the last week and a half. Sweet Tim bought me a Kindle to encourage productive hobbies during this summer so I don’t end up watching hours of Hoarders or begging friends and strangers for lives on Candy Crush. I don’t think he knew he would awaken the dormant (very dormant) book monster.

I am still getting up before 6am (thank you circadian rhythm that has been forever changed by teaching) but now I just lay in bed for an hour reading HP. Car rides are really quiet now that I am reading. Tim actually made me put down my book a week ago while in the car so I am reminded to be a well-mannered human and have a conversation with him. Thank the Lord he has been so supportive of my HP obsession despite my recent(?) social ineptness. Last week in NY while riding the subway I sighed, looked at him and said “Tim, I wish there were wizards, witches and magic!” He responded, “There are! They are just hidden from us Muggles.” So. Sweet. I love this man. I almost kissed him in the subway right then and there.

Today while making travel plans for the wedding we are attending in SoCal, I hit a new low (or high depending on how you look at it). I literally let out a big sigh and said aloud, “I COULD REALLY USE SOME FLOO POWDER.”

Cronut Quest 2013

Image

Me and my precious.

I wish I could say that I have been in the know about Cronuts since their NYC debut in May 2013. The first time I heard about them – correction. The first time I read about them was peeking over my husband’s shoulder as he chatted with his sister on the flight from Phoenix to Newark. She asked us ever so nonchalantly if we were going to try to get a Cronut. Being the uncool older siblings we were, we had no idea what the heck a Cronut was. I was scared to even google it because I was afraid it had an urban dictionary meaning (if you know what I mean) and I didn’t want a dirty picture to pop up on the iPad with a stranger sitting next to me. (I have been said stranger sitting next to someone who frantically tried to close their browser window when a NSFW picture popped up! To say it was an awkward flight would be a gross understatement.) Imagine the joy I felt when I discovered Cronuts were pastries!

Here are some facts I learned about the famous Cronut:

  • It derives its name from Croissants + Doughnuts (also known as Doughssants or Cronots by some knockoffs)
  • Dominique Ansel took 2 months to create it. Each Cronut takes 3 days to make.
  • There is only one flavor that you can get. May: Rose Vanilla; June: Lemon Maple; July: Blackberry
  • Cronuts must be eaten soon after being purchased. They must not be refrigerated lest they become soggy and yucky.
  • People wait in line for hours for this thing.

At first I was totally blasé about this Cronut. How good could it be? I couldn’t even imagine the love child of a croissant and donut. It seemed like upon frying, any hint of buttery croissantness would soon be gone. We started vetting our NY friends about waiting in line for the Cronut. As we chatted my interest started to grow. I found out about the black market for Cronuts, white glove delivery services and scalpers. My curiosity was piqued. I decided I had to experience this for myself. I’m doing it.

Tim and I decided that I would go alone because God knows Tim is NOT a morning person. On a prior trip that necessitated a 5 am airport arrival, I didn’t talk to Tim for hours on the plane because I interpreted his non-morningness as anger toward me. The whole flight I was convinced he was mad at me and giving me the silent treatment. Here I was racking my brain as to what thing I could’ve done that miffed my husband so badly when he was just grumpy from waking up before the sun rose. There was NO way Tim was getting up at the equivalent of 2:30am PST to wait in line.

I took the subway to SoHo and walked the 0.4 miles to Dominique Ansel when the line already around the corner. I got there just before 7am and the bakery opens at 9am. People brought beach chairs, blankets, monopoly deal and kindles ready to endure the infamous wait. When they first opened, Cronuts were $3.50 and you could buy six at a time! Now they are $5 a piece and you are only allowed two per person. Experts say that they make about 300 a day so you better hope that you are in the first 150 in line.

I saw an Asian family of four in front of me. Kids were visibly miserable on their iPhones poking the screen, probably crushing candy, parents were jabbing away about Cronut lore… I felt like I saw a glimpse of my future – Tim and I dragging our kids out of bed at the crack of dawn to get Cronuts just so we could use their bodies to procure more than our share.

The first hour I started Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and then suddenly around 8am, the guy behind me left! This was so shocking that the guy behind him and I put down our respective devices and hypothesized about what could have happened in his life that he would leave the line. As the hour passed we shared favorite haunts in the city and held each other’s spots in line so we could walk around… we even talked about doing a house swap because he’s always wanted to spend a week or two in California. Having a line buddy makes all the difference. They can help you get coffee, let you pee, stretch, walk and keep you company. I highly recommend getting one if you find yourself in line. Bonus points if you don’t know them that well that way you can spend time asking the fun get to know you questions that your spouse may or may not have the patience for.

Here are some pictures from my adventure (sorry for the redundancy if you followed my Cronut saga on fb on Sunday).

this

This was my line buddy. He was really smart to bring a chair.

IMG_2611

All the people that got up before me.

IMG_2609

Striped Shirt Girl conveniently came at 8:00 to join her friends. If you are going to get a Cronut, do not do what she did. She wasn’t the only one, there were several people that crept in line around 8:15 am. Prepare to get judging looks from everyone around you and end up on a blog.

I went into the store around 9:30 am. At around 9:45, I handed the cashier my credit card and she gave me a box of two Cronuts and I had to try the DKA – Dominique Kouign Amann ($5.50) since this was their signature pastry before the Cronut.

Here was my first bite:

IMG_2622

“Please be worth it. Please be worth it.”

DSCF3099

Tim makes food looks even better than they actually look.

DSCF3100

The Midsagittal Plane. Compare this to what it’s supposed to look like below.

cronuts3

Umm, mine did not come with flakey layers.

The Cronut I had tasted like a slightly stale Morning Bun. I am no pastry chef, but the dough reminded me of the layers inside a donut more than a croissant. There was very little air pockets. The part that I liked the most was the sugar it was rolled around in. The frosting was a little tart (I’m guessing that was supposed to be the blackberry part) but lacking flavor. My chemoreceptors in my tongue told me it was sour but other than that, if I were blind folded, I couldn’t tell you what flavor it was supposed to be. Tim said it best. This pastry from a deep identity crisis. Not unlike a teenager who doesn’t quite know who they are, the Cronut can be described as an unbuttery filled croissant, dense doughnut, stale morning bun or a sugared cream puff. Honestly I had planned on eating one by myself and maybe saving a bite for a friend I was going to meet up with for church (glutton confessions)… but Tim and I struggled to finish one. We kept each eating bite hoping maybe we missed something and that we’d discover something delightful. It never happened. I had no struggle giving away my 2nd Cronut. After that, all I could think about was Doughnut Plant Doughnuts (another post another day)!

Though the Cronut’s flavor was disappointing, I had so much fun. Some of my best memories of NY happened in that line. For example, when I was walking up the line counting people to see where I was in line people yelled POO! POO! POO! I was confused. Why were they calling me poo? Someone explained that I had almost stepped on DOG POO. Bless these strangers. These strangers also clapped, cheered and congratulated me as I walked past them with Cronuts.

Would I do it again? Possibly. Next time I would bring a beach chair and sunscreen and buy two Cronuts (so I can give it away to the person who was #151 in line) and four DKA’s (the real star of the morning). 

Addicted to Squirreling Part 2

If I have learned one thing from watching HGTV, it’s that my house can’t be clean without getting rid of stuff. This fact is exacerbated by my other guilty TV pleasure – Hoarders on TLC. I’ve never seen an episode where the hoarder was also clean. It just doesn’t happen! No one has ever made the connection cleanliness with minimalism but it makes so much sense!

This summer I played a mind game with myself and pretended that I was moving/the world was ending/I am renting out our home to Martha Stewart and proceeded to purge. I decided to purge before I made this blog so I didn’t have the foresight to take lots of pictures. (please excuse the Google image search results of the first two pictures) Here are some things we’ve hung onto for YEARS because we were certain it would be useful:

Image

Idea: Bringing this into the classroom and plugging it in so my students could listen to running water while they work quietly. Clearly I am delusional. Reality: If this was in my classroom, it would most certainly mean water fights every day. Verdict: Sunnyvale Goodwill.

Image
Idea:  Every time I would have guests stay over, I would place a set of amenities that I had saved from my last trip. Reality: Aint nobody got time for that. And often times these hotel shampoos don’t lather very well and they have weird scent combos like mandarin almond ginger. Great dessert idea, not so great for hair. I ended up buying full-size bottles of Garnier Fructis for the guest bath. It’s pleasant, gender-neutral and makes great suds. Verdict: Hauled my ten pound stock pile to Sunnyvale Community Services
Image
Idea: It’s no secret that this guy has significantly changed shape in the last two years. Well both of us have a hard time letting go of our “fat” clothes because you know… what if we decide crossfit really is cuckoo and stop one day? Tim had a second closet FULL of dress shirts (this one here was a slim fit), nice jeans and sweaters. Reality: Even if we find ourselves fitting into these clothes again, we probably will have changed in our taste. Verdict: Almaden Goodwill.

I may have to make this an S family tradition. I love purging! I ended up taking 1.5 car loads to GoodWill filled with household goods, bags, purses, clothes, shoes and board games.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Purge frequently.
  2. Make an effort to know what is in your house so you don’t buy things you don’t need.
  3. Buy less. But if you do do buy, make sure it’s quality so it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Thoughts about Heat and AC

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 9.21.25 AM

ugh

I know this blog is called Summertime Candy and I love summer but I have to confess. I actually hate summer weather in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s strange. You’d think it’d be in my DNA to withstand heat seeing that I grew up in Hong Kong and Philippines where you were perpetually moist from your sweat or the surrounding humidity (most of time it’s unclear which is which). But in HK especially, people don’t put up with crazy heat! HK’ers blast their AC at the frigid temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) every day, all day long. Not only that, offices, malls, libraries, subways, buses, taxis all have fantastic AC units. Three years ago, 50,000 Hong Kong residents tried a “Turn off the AC Night” to be green, but the heat and noise made that night unbearable and if anything it only affirmed their addiction to AC. (You can read more about it here if you are interested). AC is such a mainstay in HK culture that there is a term for an item of clothing you always carry with you because you don’t want to freeze in an AC room – the AC Jacket (which is basically a cardigan). Walking down the streets you may feel a warm wet drops falling on your head. No big deal. It’s not someone’s sweat, just AC condensation!

Moving to San Diego was a little traumatic for me. Not only was it sunny all the time, our home had no AC. Thankfully most of the year San Diego hovers around 72 degrees and our home had tile floors which helped cool down our home during the warmer summer months. Here in the Bay Area, call me crazy, but it gets so much hotter here than in SD! Since being married, Tim has drawn my attention to my inordinate love for AC. On a hot day I will blast the AC and put my face next to a vent while we drive around town. I know I look like a canine, but I have no shame. It feels good. Perhaps the biggest joy of traveling is staying in a hotel getting AC all to yourself. I love a room at 68 but my husband tells me I’m crazy and mutters something about how I’m part penguin. He would keep it at 72 it were up to him which to me is room temperature water. “We are paying good money for this room! The least they can do is run the AC!!” After many button pushing negotiations, we usually settle at 70. I usually find myself on top of the sheets in the morning while Tim is bundled like a post-mortem Egyptian royal inches away. They don’t tell you about compromising your ideals regarding temperature in pre-marital class! You have been warned.

Today is going to be a scorcher. But to be green, I am not going to run the AC at home by myself (this is a big deal for a HK girl), I’m going to go for a swim with a friend, see my eye doctor and maybe go get a pedicure because my feet are in need of some TLC after constant sandal wearing this summer (#summerfirstworldproblems). I am tempted to write about my favorite heat avoiding strategies but this laptop is cooking my thighs. Stay cool. Stay classy.