Home Alone… The Thriller

Me: When’s your next business trip?

Graham: I don’t know.

Me: In the next two months maybe?

Graham: Probably not. Why do you ask?

Me: I have a horror book I want to read and a movie to watch. I want to make sure you’re going to be around while it’s still fresh in my head.


Most people probably outgrow their childhood fears, but I still have severe existential hang-ups and paranoia of the paranormal. In all fairness, I really do it to myself. I grew up watching horror films with my grandmother in her bedroom. Since my grandmother spoke almost no English, horror films provided an unlikely way for us to bond. Visual suspense and fear bridged successfully across the linguistic divide. I’ve grown desensitized to some subgenres (slashers, monsters, zombies, etc.), but then there are the ones that burrow into childhood fears and metastasize into my imagination.

I’ve always lived in close proximity to other people. Family, apartments, roommates/housemates, and now, husband, so even if my paranoia choked back sleep, I at least felt some comfort knowing that there was only a thin wall or door that separated me from other people, and sleeping with your significant other in the same bed eliminates the dilemma of whether to sleep facing the door or the closet. In the end it doesn’t matter since your S/O’s logic brainwaves will drive away the boogeyman.

However… panic always sets in when Graham has a business trip.

Once upon a time though, when we first started dating, I asked Graham that if we were ever living together.. and I suddenly got bad vibes about a place, if he’d promise to let us move. I’ve seen The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Insidious.. and in all of those movies, Lee Remick, Mia Farrow, and Rose Byrne are never taken seriously and then all hell breaks loose as their fears are proven. Graham promised we’d move.

Last night, on a whim, I asked him if he remembered that promise.


Shoot. Now I have to add “Pod People” to my list.


Preserved Lemons – When TV Leaves You Feeling Sour

Preserved LemonsI’ve been moody since last night thanks to the season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead.” So it’s somewhat fitting that I made preserved lemons today. I love making Moroccan food, but whenever a recipe calls for “preserved lemons,” I usually substitute it with fresh lemons instead. However, I’ve been doing some reading about how there really isn’t a substitute for preserved lemons, and you’re doing a great disservice to a recipe by either using fresh lemons or skipping it altogether.

Since I was curious about how much of a difference preserved lemons make in flavoring and thought pickling jars filled with lemons might look attractive on our kitchen shelves, I thought I’d give it a go.Preserved Lemons I’ve never made preserved lemons, but the recipes I’ve found online made it seem simple enough, and they seem versatile when it comes to adding herbs and spices.I decided to use a bay leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and a small stick of cinnamon. And of course, preserved lemons, essentially being pickled or brined lemons, require A LOT of salt. Note: Initially, I started out wanting to use pink Himalayan, but I was worried that the pink might make for bizarre aesthetics so I switched it out for regular sea salt for my first attempt.Preserved LemonsYou might want to make sure you’re papercut-free; cleaning up the lemon juice and salt from the counters could go from being a figurative pain to literal pain if you’re not.Preserved LemonsThe most difficult part of making preserved lemons is the waiting. With the chill returning to Philly, I’ve been wanting to make Moroccan chicken in the crock-pot, but I’m going to have to wait a month before the lemons will be ready. I’ll have a follow-up post when they’re ready.Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons
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  1. 1 pint pickling jar
  2. 3-4 small lemons (preferably Meyer or regular organic lemons since the peels will be eaten)
  3. sea salt
  4. fennel seeds
  5. peppercorns
  6. 1 bay leaf
  1. Make sure the pickling jar has been sterilized.
  2. Add 1 tsp. of salt to the bottom of the jar.
  3. Slice off the pointed ends of the lemons.
  4. Partially cut the lemons into quarters, leaving the bases intact.
  5. Stuff the inside of the lemons with 1 tsp. of salt, also rubbing some on the outside.
  6. Pack the lemons into the jar, cut side down, adding 1 tsp. of salt in between lemons. Squeeze the lemons a bit while packing the jar to release some of the juices.
  7. Sprinkle in fennel seeds, peppercorns.
  8. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
  9. Seal the jar and let sit on the counter for 3-4 days, rotating and shaking the jar 3xs a day.
  10. Place in refrigerator to finish pickling process (4 weeks).
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Salted Preserved Lemons
wasabiapple http://wasabiapple.com/
Next time life gives you lemons in the form of a season premiere after a crappy cliffhanger where they make you wait over 6 months to find out the ending, making you vow for the 40th time that you’re never watching another episode again*, make preserved lemons instead of lemonade. It’s far more productive therapy than throwing things at the TV.


* I say “I’m never watching ‘The Walking Dead’ again!” on a weekly basis, but I’ve never been very good at kicking bad habits.


No “real” post today as we were busy painting our bedroom this week.. and now that the first coat is finished, we’re busy panicking over whether to swap out colors or continue with a second coat of a shade of white that clashes too much with our bedroom decor.

Yes. White can clash.

Always bring home swatches.


Wasabi Apples

Wasabi ApplesWhenever I give people my email, website, or username, they always ask, “What’s a wasabi apple?” or.. “You were a bi-apple?” (The latter question usually came from my previous life as an Internet dater, and withthe  number of times that question came up in introductory emails, I regretted the use of it). The answer to the former is “the best ingredient to use in a sandwich.” Wasabi apples became my “gateway drug” to cooking.

In my early 20s, my cupboards used to be stocked entirely with packaged food with the words “just add water” clearly labeled on the front. There have might been a box or two of Hamburger/Tuna Helper just in case I felt like being daring. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea where I had an apartment with no counter-space and missed “western” flavors that I began wanting to experiment in the kitchen.

I spent much of my time in the kitchen during my first visit to my parents’ home after a year of living abroad. While making ham sandwiches for lunch, I tried playing around by adding sliced apples and spreading a thin layer of wasabi over them. Wasabi mayo is great and all, but I really wanted the apples to have a bite more than the mayo. It makes a difference. You end up with a spicy crunch rather than a spicy sauce.Wasabi ApplesWasabi apples also add great texture to a grilled cheese sandwich. Since we’ve a surplus after going apple picking yesterday (subject of a future post), I thought I’d make one for Graham’s lunch today. I’ve made grilled cheese apple sandwiches for him before, but this time I thought I’d also make use of the bacon jam from Skillet.Wasabi ApplesAs far as the types of cheeses that complement wasabi apples, I love brie, a mild harvati, gruyere (because gruyere is just amazing), goat, or a mild cheddar . Unfortunately, we didn’t have any of those in stock so I used a combination of the single slice American white cheddar Graham loves to keep on hand, swiss, and Monterey Jack.Wasabi ApplesAnd since you know what a sandwich fascist I am with ingredient order…

  • buttered bread
  • mayo
  • cheese(s)
  • wasabi apples
  • bacon jam

Wasabi ApplesIs there a way to photograph grilled cheese attractively without props or the cheese congealing so soon? You get the idea anyways. What it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in taste. It’s a perfect fall sandwich.

On a side note.. while writing up this post, I had to check capitalization rules for cheeses. I swear the rules seem rather arbitrary. And no, the irony of me, the dictator of rigid sandwich rules complaining about cheese capitalization rules is not lost on me.


Domestic Jedi Mind Tricks

Monday’s post was all about the changes we made to our living room when we moved to Mount Airy. You might have noticed the white rug in the photos. That little piece of fabric got me into some trouble with Graham. After the floors were refinished, I spread out the new rug to test how it would look. I was pretty pleased. On the way back to our old house to finish up some packing, the following conversation occurred:





Room Redo: Living Room Before and After

Room Redo: Living Room Before And After

I’m sharing the before and after shots of our living room since we managed to get around to adding a checkmark in the “done” box a couple of weeks ago.livingroomempty1As I mentioned before, the entire first floor, save for the kitchen, was painted grey. Normally, I wouldn’t object, but I didn’t think it complemented the red brick. The walls got the white paint treatment in Bakery Box from Behr.. which I DO NOT recommend since it took 3-4 coats. I can’t remember how many cans of paint we went through, but suffice it to say that Graham has traumatic flashbacks at the mere mention of the words “bakery box”.. even in the pastry sense.redolivingroom2redolivingroom3A working fireplace was high on Graham’s list of priorities while we were house hunting.. a wood-burning stove works out just as nice. Since moving in in March, we’ve gotten to use it a handful of times to warm the house while binge-watching on Netflix and making s’mores.Sadly, the cozy size of our living room puts a limit on seating. We added an extra chair in the corner. I love the lines.. it actually belonged to Graham’s grandfather. Deer antlers. The nice thing about the location of them in our new house vs. the old place is that we are no longer in danger of being impaled by antlers while lying on the sofa. The hexagon shelving from etsy houses the majority of my Polepole figures.redolivingroom9

The media stand was the last thing we added to the room. It took us over 6 months to agree on a style.I should add that the kitchen wasn’t the only room with buttercream walls. The entryway was also yellow. I love yellow, I really do.. I always pick it as my game piece in Trivial Pursuit (it’s also easier for people to remember which player I am.. y’know.. being Asian).. but I disliked this shade. livingroomempty3We wanted something that contrasted with the Bakery Box walls of the dining room and living.. so we went with Poppyseed… aka Black, as Graham would say. redolivingroom5redolivingroom1We really love the way it turned out. livingroomempty2redolivingroom6redolivingroom4We found this side table at Jinxed in Queen Village. It was in need of a little TLC, but I fell in love with it. You might be able to see the empty coaster holder sitting there. We had a coaster problem at our house. We had various sets that tend to wander from room to room until they hit that other dimension where they’re never heard from again. We picked out a heavier set made from agate to prevent them from walking about that now sits on the coffee table.redolivingroom11One of the first things I looked for when we moved was a maneki-neko or lucky cat. redolivingroom18It goes well with our vespa kitty that sits below..Vroom. vroom.


PSA: The Key To Cooking With Kimchi

We go through A LOT of kimchi at our house. Did you know that you can buy kimchi by the bucket at H Mart? We had to downgrade to jars when we moved to our current house thanks to smaller fridge space. 

Kimchi gets used as a side dish, but more often than not, we usually end up frying it for kimchi jjigae, bibimbap, grilled kim-cheese sandwiches, kimchi fried rice, kimchi omurice, etc. 20160917_113516I try to be careful about how much oil I use when cooking. If I can’t get by with using cooking spray, I’ll use the most minuscule amount of olive oil or coconut oil possible. Y’know.. the type of drizzle that doesn’t cover the entire pan and you swear you’re going to get tendinitis trying to roll the oil around so you give up and cover the rest of the pan in Pam instead? Or maybe that’s just me. So to sum up.. I don’t like to cook with oil.

What about when you cook kimchi?


Really. Don’t do that to kimchi. Just don’t. Especially not sesame oil.. no matter what “but it’s Asian food!” sort of knee-jerk reaction you have.

But what you NEED to do..

USE BUTTER.Trust me, this is the best thing you can do for kimchi (unless you’re a bacon freak then bacon grease comes pretty close.. but I still vote butter). Oh, and if you’re vegan.. Earth Balance works just as well (as long as you don’t tell your husband you used a substitute and remember to hide the Earth Balance back in the far corners of the fridge). I know what I said about “No oil,” but Earth Balance has the buttery flavor that makes it the exception.1474597747034And then you just add that to your bulgogi tacos..20160912_182239kimchi fried rice..1473258241649bibimbap…20160917_113213and grilled kim-cheese..1475077143829Seriously.. some bonus advice.. whenever you’re frying up kimchi.. throw cheese on top.. pizza is ideal for kimchi.. no? It’s ok.. baby steps..


Day Trip To New York

When I found out that “Oh, Hello” was coming to Broadway, I kept sending reviews and promos for the show to Graham over chat. “So.. I guess you want to go?” he finally asked.

Graham got tickets for my birthday, and we decided to make a day of it. We took advantage of the gorgeous fall weather by spending the afternoon in Central Park, stopping briefly at Rockefeller Center on our way.14752012093491474926374090 14752010148521475201380574We stopped by Strawberry Fields…1474900222086and then decided to leave the park so we’d have enough time to walk to K-Town before the show for some dinner. We, however, ended up getting lost for another hour much to the dismay of my feet which I’d strapped into medieval torture contraptions called “high-heeled sandals.” It wasn’t all bad since we ended up at Shakespeare Garden.1474864759134I’d been craving “dak galbi” for weeks, but I hadn’t been able to find a place in Philly that serves it, so that was high on my “what to do on NYC day trip” list.1474926621356147520073582414749261261501474926501583I really don’t know how we managed to walk to Times Square after all that food.. actually, Graham walked, I sort of teetered and limped (thanks, shoes!). It probably helped that I was easily distracted on the way there by the bright colors of the window display at Macy’s.147520059227814749240351101475201972238 1475096960633I got super excited when we turned the corner and saw The Lyceum Theatre.. but I don’t know if the excitement was from getting to see Nick Kroll and John Mulaney or because the straps of my shoes were eroding skin at this point.14749259049161474852070326The show was only in its third day of previews, so there were kinks, but honestly, it really seemed to work in their favor. We were skeptical about the premise of the show.. could George St. Geegland and Gil Faison really entertain for more than a 5 minute skit? YES.

On the drive home, we wondered why we hadn’t done more day trips to New York. Graham summed up what he learned rather nicely:

A day in New York is doable as long as we have someone to watch the dog. We can definitely do more of this if my parents are fine with Huxley. And, next time you wear heels and I ask you, “Are you going to be okay walking in those shoes all day?” and you say, “Yes, I’m fine in these shoes,” I’m going to put a pair of your sneakers in my bag anyway.


Oh Hello, 38

I got to celebrate turning another year older on Monday with some of my favorite things.

Sleeping in… Something I have a hard time doing because I’m racked with guilt for wasting the day if I try to snooze longer.. but I got to sleep until 10..

Three new Pole-Pole figures greeted me on the kitchen shelf when I got my coffee.. raccoon, meerkat, and a seal. They were a surprise from Graham although he’d already taken me to see “Oh, Hello” the night before. There are now too many Pole Pole figures in the house to fit on the hexagon display shelf in the living room <3Oh Hello, 38I got to watch true crime documentaries in my pajamas for most of the day. Seriously.. I didn’t shower until 4pm on Monday.

A trip to H Mart’s food court and Paris Baguette where we got…Oh Hello, 38 Oh Hello, 38 Strawberry Shortcake!

Oh Hello, 38

Snail Mail – The kitty princess from my parents reads: “You’re an eternal child… Three Years Old Forever!” This is probably aptly illustrated by the sticker card my sister sent.. I really couldn’t decide which stickers to use and used almost all of them. Mustache went up first, of course.Oh Hello, 38Shake Shack! Graham wasn’t able to understand my love for Shake Shack until he found this article on NPR and declared, “It’s in your genetics!”Oh Hello, 38 Oh Hello, 38

Husband is a pretty important favorite thing…

Oh Hello, 38

We got home in time for some Basil Hayden and Politics. With an extra bonus of Rachel Maddow thrown in for pre-debate coverage.

Graham let me know this morning that I completely passed out with my arm draped over him, blissfully snoring away. In fact, he got up in the middle of the night for the bathroom and returned to me still snoring soundly. He had to roll me over because I had also annexed his side of the bed in my sleep.. and I continued my snoring.. completely uninterrupted. So I got to fit in one more of my favorite things, annoying my husband, on my birthday <3


Room Redo: Kitchen Before and After and Graham Cuts A Rug

I let this past week get away from me with projects at home along with the usual things on my “To Do” list, so I wasn’t able to post on schedule. While putting together the post on the alcove, I realized I wanted to put up some before and after shots of the entire kitchen.beforeafterkitchen1When we first viewed our house, we had just made it to the second floor when we realized we wanted to put in an offer at that moment.. without even heading up to the third floor. That didn’t mean there wasn’t anything we wanted to change. The stagers for the house did a nice job, but it didn’t reflect our personalities. The first thing on the list was the kitchen.

The floors of the house were definitely worn and scuffed. Initially, we were planning on having them stained darker, but once we saw the beautiful sanded yellow pine beneath our feet, we opted to keep it natural, only adding a couple coats of polyurethane. 14747525706271474752713898I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how much I disliked the buttercream walls on multiple occasions. I felt it clashed with the red brick behind the stove. Although the kitchen has multiple windows, the hanging eave off the back porch and the neighbor’s house to the east doesn’t allow as much natural light into the room as I would like. We painted the walls white to brighten the mood. I also dreaded the idea of trying to clean cooking splatter from painted walls, so we knew we were going to need a backsplash. Graham and I talked about doing white subway tiles, but when I found white honeycomb tiles on Wayfair, I fell in love with the vintage, yet modern, feel.  14746872753351474754708710Although he always complained whenever I went on about how much I love chalkboard walls, Graham suggested we paint one in the kitchen (aww.. one of the reasons why I married him). We used to keep our grocery list on Google Keep, but I love writing it out on something tangible. We’re usually in the kitchen when we realize we’re out of something, so it’s convenient to scribble it out then, and really, who doesn’t like writing on chalkboard? It’s also nice to temporarily jot dates while you’re on the phone and can’t access your Google Calendar.14747514968481474687746936Uh….we still haven’t gotten around to erasing the seasoning marks towards the ceiling..

Then of course, there’s the shelving…14747515790191474686606036Our biggest accomplishment with the kitchen actually has nothing to do with paintbrushes, wallpaper, etc. When we moved in, we knew we were going to need a new kitchen rug since our old one had definitely seen better days. We first purchased one with a geometric print from Society6, but we freaked out when we opened the package and saw that the colors didn’t translate well from online to real life. We found ourselves face to face with lavender, navy, and neon pink triangles which I’m sure would be lovely!… in another kitchen. Strike One. We then tried our luck with RugsUsaWell… we ended up being out $80, but we got a good laugh out of the rug that looked as if it would be more at home in a kindergarten classroom. Strike Two. We were definitely suffering from online rug shopping PTSD and were reluctant to try our luck again.

We took a chance on a hemp rug from Target that I wasn’t too crazy about. Once we laid it out in the kitchen, I immediately decided it needed to go, and back it went. Strike Three.

One day, while on yet another trip to Ikea (if you’ve bought a new house, prepare to spend so much time at Home Depot and Ikea that they should just start paying you to work there), we found a rug we thought would be perfect. In a perfect world, we’d have a white rug, but since we’re imperfect people in the kitchen, we knew that would never fly. But this rug was white with enough mottled dark hues that would hide potential cooking snafus.

We got it home and unrolled it…at least we tried to.. Although we knew the rug was wider than we needed, we thought we might be able to slip the excess inches under the refrigerator. Nope. My resourceful husband, however, was not going to give up.. He wasn’t going to be victimized by yet another rug. So he dragged the rug to the back porch with a hacksaw..1474687439542Problem Solved.