Category Archives: nothing to do with running

Dear Daina -Stuff dreams are made of

Hi D.

In all my life I have never appreciated this fall back time change more than right at this moment. An extra hour of sleep was as welcome as a fresh squeezed glass of lemonade on a hot summers day.

One might say “steady la” in Singlish. Singlish is a creole type language rooted in British English and a variety of other languages including  Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese and about 15 other languages. Because we just thought America was the melting pot of the world.

Steady – excellent or agreeing about something. Pronounced “stay – lee”

La or Lah- Used as a full stop in a sentence but doesn’t really have a meaning,. It’s  often used to change the tone of a sentence.

“Wha! You got an extra hour of sleep already? Steady la! 

Sitting around the dinner table with the local office personnel, I learned that Singaporeans quite enjoy listening to tourists try to speak a little of their Singlish language. And found out pretty quick, it was purely for the entertainment factor.

So let’s chat culinary delights for a bit.

This dinner was quite possibly my favorite experience of the entire trip. There is no better way to experience another culture than to sit side by side with a local and break bread….or crab as it is common in Singapore. Chili crab to be more specific, but we will get to that in a minute.

Ranesh was our guide for the evening and guide us he did, right down the red light district of Singapore where one side of the street marked in large bright red numbers are your local brothels and the other is mostly made up of locally owned restaurants and bars. Including No Signboard Seafood. The name was actually given to them by their customers, when they were first a hawker (open air food market) with no name. The locals would make plans for meal time meet ups and say “let’s meet at the no signboard place.” (except for in Singlish, which no doubt ended in lah) The place eventually adopted the name as their own.

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Drunken Prawns

For starters, we had a dish called Drunken Prawns. The waiter approached the table with a stainless steel pot of live prawns and presented them to our host for the evening. A local colleague leaned over to explain to me that many permits in town require some seafood to be served live to guests. Just like table-side guacamole, they literally drowned the prawns in a mixture of rice wine and brandy and then put them in a pot to boil them table-side before serving.

I was told  that the soup of brandy and rice wine is quite good for the body. Imagine that?! It’s like healing powers in the alcohol.

Apparently there is a live version of this dish, which we did not have. Thank the good Lord above! If the idea of cooking live prawns table-side is not gross enough for you, watch this video. What is the Singlish word for gag?

The video is quite like the open air dining experience we had at many of the restaurants in Singapore. Apparently, Singaporeans don’t like their air conditioning too much. So they accommodate the hot and humid climate with open air facilities all over the place.

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Look at these beauties? Bamboo clams (also known as Atlantic Jackknife clam or Razor clam) are one of the most beautifully prepared dishes I have every seen. Prepared being the operative word here.

Because why? Just watch. No need to sit through the entire thing, just catch the first couple of minutes.

And again I ask, how do you say gag in Singlish?

“Obscene and gruesomely looking..” <– my favorite part of this video.

The best part of the meal finally made it’s way to the table. And before you ask, my friend- 1)  it is not the bread and 2) it did not crawl it’s way to the table live.These amazing crabs did however come from the muddy lagoons of Sri Lanka and are prized by seafood lovers around the globe.

Chili Crab is claimed to be the national dish of Singapore. It’s a mud crab that is stir fried in a semi sweet and savory tomato and chili based sauce, which is actually not spicy at all.

We were draped with plastic bibs and provided water bowls for finger dipping because this is another hands on meal. The crab meat was juicy and sweet and the savory chili sauce dripped from my chin. Shiok!

I can’t finish this without telling you about those little heavenly  pieces of bread …It was almost like a fried donuts without the sweetness. An eggshell thin fried exterior and a light and soft warm center. Perfect for scooping up the chili sauce that dripped across your plate.

Shiok -Exclamation of extreme pleasure or the highest quality. Intended to be said with much passion.

This chili crab dinner was damn shiok, man! 

This meal truly was stuff that dreams are made of…both the delightful and the eery!

Happy eating!

-Ames

P.S. One guess as to what my first meal was after landing back in San Antonio? ‘Ole. Isn’t that Spanglish for something like…Mmmm. Get in my belly.

 

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Dear Daina

Dear Daina,

My typical morning routine usually includes the dull sound of the news in the back ground as I piddle around my house or hotel room getting ready for the workday.  This morning I discovered that I could connect my phone to the Bose surround sound system in my  room. A solo dance party ensued, which may or may not have included some jumping on the bed.

The inner child in me may have been set loose when I attempted the traditional  Indian style dining etiquette that involved eating with my hands yesterday. What?! Well, to be fair it was a combination of cutlery and my fingers as I found out that I am even more clumsy with my hands than with chopsticks. After a bit of a stroll through the bazaar where the aroma of Indian spices and fresh flowers mixed in the air, I stumbled upon The Banana Leaf Apollo where the dining experience began. As a part of tradition, food is eaten from a Thali rather than a plate, which is simply a large banana leaf.

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It was a bit precarious navigating the narrow streets, where people darted in front of moving vehicles and moving vehicles seemed to swerve in the direction of people. Horns honked, people shouted, street-side sewing machines buzzed, fresh garlands of roses and marigolds mixed with the aromas of curry and turmeric, bright-colored silk sari’s brushed your skin in the bazaars as the coastal winds blew –  my senses were on high alert.It’s exactly how I imagine the culture of India.


I learned that local Singaporeans stay away from Little India on Sunday’s, as it is the only day of the week in which the  Indian community does not work. It was also very early in the day by Indian standards the crowds were on the slim side. I can’t even imagine what its like when the action really gets going.



It’s the celebration of Deepavali right now, a Hindu festival of lights that honors the triumph of good over evil. They have said it’s a magical site to see the glow of lights after dark, so I am hoping to make it over another evening this week to see for myself.

Next stop, Chinatown. A very different, but equally impressive experience.

Much love,

Amy

 

 

 

 

I Matter….A Reminder

I stood barefoot on the salt and pepper ground swallowed up by the dense, gray layer of moisture suspended all around me. With every effort I could muster, I stopped the endless thoughts in my head and listened to the soft crashing of waves and rolling of seas that lie just beyond my arms reach. They captivated me long enough to settle my mind into a state of awe and then a swell of endless thoughts would crash in my head disturbing that brief yet extraordinary moment of distraction and tranquility.

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My intention for the next 3 days was simply to leave this place with clear answers for a multitude of decisions that sat directly in font me. Each one complexly related to the others and all impacting the trajectory of my life. With every ounce of energy I had, I mustered up the courage and pleaded for help.

Show off. I will only listen. No more planning on my part. In your mysterious way, oh Lord, show me where to go from here.

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I journeyed the peninsula on the far west side of Vancouver Island from Ucuelet to Tofino. Not more than a stretch of 20 km, but packed full of adventure. Rain forests edged wide sandy beaches that cupped gentle surfs, and rocky cliffs protected the inland from fierce sea swells of the Northern Pacific.

For two days, I strolled the waters edge every morning and every night. My mornings started with a plea for help. Answers that would chart out my life path. As the mornings wore on, I found myself so captivated by the beauty of this place that my thoughts could not help but contemplate the depths of the sea, the vastness of the great ocean, the mystery of suspended cloud cover, the reflection of light and the intensity of darkness, the sweet smell of fresh rain, the wonder of life big and small. Those endless life worries that consumed my thoughts before stepping foot on this island were ever more interrupted with the swelling emotion of gratitude as I soaked in the wonder of my surroundings.

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As the sun set the evening before I was to depart. I strolled the beach one last time basking in my own heart’s state of wonder for creation that had provided a welcome distraction these last few days. And just as tears began to fill my eyes and heaviness started to well up in my soul at the realization that I was leaving this place with no more clarity than when I arrived, you whispered.

I have you hemmed in behind and before, sweet child. I have you covered with my hand.

Although a peace settled into my soul, I worked hard to try and conjure up the remainder of this passage in an effort to unravel exactly how it applied to me. But as hard as I tried, I could recall no more. So I made a mental note to look it up in the coming days.

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Settling in for a 2 hour fairy ride back to the mainland, I decided catch up with some online reading.  A couple of clicks took me directly to one of my regular daily reads, She Reads Truth. With the same wonder and amazement I had experienced the last couple of days looking over the vast ocean, contemplating the mysteries of suspended cloud covers, the awesomeness of light and darkness, and the pure wonder of life and creation I let my eyes settle on the words before me. It was a grace day, indeed.

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Tears clouded my eyes as I read through the passage. The same creator of all things wondrous that my eyes had just witnessed had woven together a series of events specifically for me. You have searched me and known me. You discern when I come and when I go. You know when I sit and when I rise. You know every word before it is even on my tongue. You are familiar with all my ways. (My paraphrase)

Oh my heart! I That tender, soft message delivered in the foggiest of settings late in the evening a night before suddenly became so big and so clear. A light in the darkness. As I settled on the edge of the sea and rose at dawn contemplating all your ways, I lost site of the simple fact that you created me and knew all my days before I was even a thought to my parents. If I were to try and count how many small details You know about me and my life, it would outnumber the grains of the salt and pepper sands I had just left.

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It’s been a little over a month since my trip and this incredible grace experience. I wrote it down as soon as I returned out of sheer excitement and also knowing in my heart that it would just be a matter of time before I’d need a reminder. While the memory is still as clear as day, today was one of those days. I needed a fresh reminder that I am hemmed in behind and before.

For the love of summer

Hooray! Summer is here.

love summer

I know this because my home has suddenly gone quiet and the pup waits patiently for someone to come play with her.

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The boy has been shipped off to grandpa’s for the summer and the mini garden is in bloom.

griff and garden

Pool time has commenced.

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Summer Bible Study is underway.

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And the contents of the kitchen have been slimmed down to include plenty of fruit and veggies for salads, cereal, chips and salsa, and wine. No cooking for this gal.

For at least two weeks, my brain becomes mush and so does my body. The workout schedule gets a bit sporadic as I find myself adjusting to the welcomed nothingness that summer brings to my life. Mindless television takes over my brain.

For the better part of the last 16 years my amazing family members all pitch in and take the boy of mine into their homes, feed him, care for him, put up with his shenanigans, and give this poor mama a break.

No, I don’t get to experience the full vacation of summer nothingness. Work continues, but it suffers for a those first couple of weeks. Please forgive my scatter-brainedness, co-workers. Pretty please.  I’ll resume sort of brain activity soon. I promise.

In the meantime if you want to discuss The Bachelorette, Fifteen and Pregnant, or any recent Lifetime movie…let’s talk! We can even do it over chips and salsa and a glass of wine.

Flailing arms and round booty’s

Post edit: Update made to the squat challenge.

“We can risk love or settle for the safety fear provides.”

My fear of swimming has kept me on the sidelines for a long time. I’m not even sure where this fear comes from considering I was a lifeguard during one late teenage summer. I can swim, enjoy the water, and love to be in and around water…but, when it comes to athletic swimming, my knees get weak.

Saturday, I took one small step toward my fear. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad. Not sure if I’m quite at the point of love, but at least I am not letting my fear hold me back from trying something new.

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I even got pointers from a guy in the lane next to me. With the exception of a few technical things, he said I had a “nice stroke.” Then he went on to explain a few of the “technical” things including this wild arm thing I do every third stroke. What? Huh?! Oh well. Me and my flailing arm made it 40 minutes in the pool which came out to just a little more than a quarter mile swim. Sllloooooowwww goes it.

Tomorrow, me and my flailing arm will try again.

Wanna talk about round booty’s now? My sisters sent me a message this week that she was doing a 30 day Squat Challenge that was issued at her local gym. I may be 300 miles away, but I took up  her challenge.  This is super exciting because my booty is prone to wander from its youthful round state.  Here are the details:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
  Day 1/20 Day 2/25 Day 3/30 Day 4/35 Day 5/40 Day 6/45
Day 7/50 Day 8/55 Day 9/60 Day 10/REST Day 11/65 Day 12/70 Day 13/75
Day 14/80 Day 15/85 Day 16/90 Day 17/95 Day 18/100 Day 19/100 Day 20/50
Day 21/55 Day 22/60 Day 23/100 Day 24/65 Day 25/70 Day 26/100 Day 27/REST
Day 28/80 Day 29/85 Day 30/90 Day 31/100       

There may or may not be before and after pictures at the end.  You’ll just have to stick around to see.

Want to join me on the squat challenge? We can make it a round booty party!

Foodie Friday

This Foodie Friday is dedicated to my sister, who keeps asking me to post recipes.

I am not sure I actually consider myself a “foodie,” but I like food. I like eating food. I like preparing food. And in the right places, I like shopping for food.

Meal planning comes and goes for me and this week was totally one of those weeks where it was gone. I stopped by the grocery store on Sunday evening, but was too tired  to really put much thought into what I was picking up. So I grabbed a little of this and a little of that and hoped for the best. Fail safe purchases are always a gallon of milk and a gigantic box of cereal.

Sometimes the best dishes are prepared in my kitchen on a wing and a prayer, though. Mid-week, I took some talapia filets out of the freezer but I was clueless until I walked in the door from work and saw that beauty of a squash sitting right on the kitchen counter. Big, fat, yellow goodness.

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Other than preparing risotto, spagetti squash is my next most favorite thing to cook. There is a fun factor involved that no other food can claim. So I scliced it in half, scooped out the seeds, and popped that baby in the oven on 375 for about a half hour.

Near the half hour mark I threw some butter and olive oil in a pan and sauted some garlic and mushrooms, added a little white wine and threw in some asparagus. While the asparagus cooked in the simmering pan, I dug in with a form to have some spagetti squash fun. If you have never prepared spagetti squash before, you really should. It will bring a smile to your face, I promise. Just grap a fork and start scraping and “wha-la!” you have the most beautiful pile of noodly looking squash you have ever seen.

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Picture from Steamy Kitchen.

I mixed my sauteed veggies in the white wine sauce with my spagetti squash and added a little salt and pepper for a tasty side with the pan seared cajun spicy talapia. It was the perfect compliment and made for a great standalone leftover lunch dish the following day plus a side dish another night to grilled porkshops. Spagetti squash comes in abundance and with only two mouths to feed, it lasts a while in my house.

Do you have a favorite thing to cook? How do you use spagetti squash? I am always looking for new things to cook and ways to mix up the regulars.

Deep Down

Today I returned a call to a business associate and left a voice mail that ended with, “just give me a holler when you can.”

What?!

It was a surreal moment that felt suspended in time. As the words flowed from my mouth I simultaneously realized what I was saying. I was both appalled and amused at the same time.

I could ask where that came from, but I know. Oh, I know full well where it came from. My deep southeast Texas roots surfaced. They were not consciously summoned but that was no matter.

It’s funny how things like that happen. Before you know it you’ve done something or said something from
ye ‘ole days. In those moments I tend to reflect on the journey that landed me where I am today.

In the case of my grammar journey it includes a nagging mom and some insanely strict English teachers…oh the painful days of my sophomore English teacher, Ms. Gonzales. Through clenched teeth I utter a thank you. Because without you I might be leaving everyone voice mails that say “give me a holler,” and not even think twice.

While the twang in my voice is a dead give away that I am a Southeast Texas girl and my written skills are far from perfect, I’m sure everyone I work with and leave voice mails for also thanks you.

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Image from Flickr by Katherine Sackreiter.