Sunday, September 30, 2012

My 50 Questions

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

1)      How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
I would say 30. I have always been mature for my age, but I still feel young at heart. I think 30 is a good medium between having wisdom and still being able to have a good time.

2)      Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Never trying, of course. You will always kick yourself for not trying something. At least if you have tried and failed then you have that experience under your belt.

3)      If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things 
we don’t do?
Probably because we feel like we need to take responsibility. I don't ever want to wash dishes but I do it anyway because I do want to see my kids have clean plates to eat off of. As for not doing things we want to, I would say that it is normally out of fear or financial incapability. I want to take my kids to Disneyland but that doesn't mean I have the money to pick up and do it right now.

4)      When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
In my future, I see myself doing a lot of things. If I die at a ripe old age, I definitely believe I will have done things that I wanted to with my life. I know that I will get there. If I died tomorrow, then there would definitely be a lot of things I dreamed about doing and said I was going to do that never happened, but in the end I still married a wonderful man, had two amazing children, and was a really good friend. And I think that is doing a lot.

5)      What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
It's so hard to pick just one because there is so much wrong in the world. But I would say the most important to me would be to take better care of the planet. It's the only one we've got, and we are destroying it.

6)      If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
I think I'm already doing it. There is nothing that makes me happier than being home with my kids, and if I were doing anything else I would just be missing them constantly. I am rich in happiness. =)

7)      Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
I am doing what I believe in. I believe in my life, I believe in my husband's dreams for our future, I believe in my kids and their happiness, and I believe in myself. My business, my willpower, everything.

8)      If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
Wow, I guess I would be over the hill in that case, eh? I guess I would be taking more risks. Living in a nice place instead of penny pinching. Trying to pass on my knowledge to my children and give them the best help and advice that I can before I die.

9)      To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
I controlled all of it. That doesn't mean I always made the right choices and that doesn't mean that my life ended up exactly the way I wanted it to, but most of those important life-changing decisions people normally make I made when I was still just a kid. I'm not saying that I don't like my life - on the contrary I love it - but that doesn't mean I wouldn't do some things differently if I were given another chance.

10)   Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
It depends on how you look at it. A lot of the time doing things right IS doing the right thing. I do believe in helping others, though. I have been in some hard times and really appreciated the help I received then, so I try to pay it forward.

11)   You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
I'm a pretty quiet person so I guess it would depend on how comfortable I feel around them. If they were dear friends I would speak up, or at least listen to what they have to say on the subject and then speak my own mind about it. If they were being ridiculous about it, then maybe they weren't the friends that I thought they were.

12)   If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
It's ok to fall in love as long as you can see where you are going to land.

13)   Would you break the law to save a loved one?
Definitely. I would speed through red lights if my child needed serious medical attention. I would kill someone if they were trying to kill me. I would steal if I were broke and my kids were starving. It's not even a question.

14)   Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
My husband is an amazing example of this. His teenage years could easily be explained as insanity. It was all about finding the right outlet for that insane fire to go, and with that came immense creativity. He dreams so big that it's insane.

15)   What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I care a lot. About everything. Everything I do I put my whole heart and soul into no matter what it is. Even cleaning my house. I take it hard on myself if something doesn't turn out exactly 100% perfect. I also find I care for others a lot more than the care that they normally return.

16)   How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
It's all about taste and preference. Cookie dough makes me happy, but some people might not like it. Having kids makes me happy, but some people might just want to have a career.

17)   What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
A lot of things! I think my 101 in 1001 list is the stepping stone to helping me become brave enough to achieve them all. If I had to pick one thing though, I would say it's visit and/or live in Japan. I love their culture and their language. The thing that is stopping me is money. That always seems to be the problem, doesn't it?

18)   Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
I guess the only thing would be secrets. Things I feel like I should tell someone but don't for one reason or another. I don't hold on to physical objects like that, I am not a very sentimental person that way. I look at an object, decide if I will ever realistically use it, and if not I have no problems tossing it out without a second thought.

19)   If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
Haha. Japan. Because I love the culture and the language..... As previously stated.

20)   Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
I actually never do that in an elevator. I don't think I've ever pressed it more than once. Unless it didn't light up and I was checking to see if it was broken or just didn't register my push. I am guilty of doing this at crosswalks though.

21)   Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
Honestly? A worried genius. Maybe I do have one too many worries but it's just because I have so much that I care about. Worries can be a blessing.

22)   Why are you, you?
I find myself contemplating this all the time. Why am I me? Why do I have this one body and this one life forever? Why wasn't I born as someone else? I think that it's just because I was born into a life where I would overcome just the right amount of grief and have the right amount of happiness for me. It's all balance.

23)   Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
Definitely. Sometimes I worry that I am too good of a friend because I often don't receive the same kindness from others that I have shown them. But in the end I don't regret it, I just treat people how I would want to be treated, and hope that they will follow by example.

24)   Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
I would say losing touch with a close friend. My best friend moved far away, but I still feel closer to her than I do to any of my friends that still live near her. You are only as far away form each other as you feel.

25)   What are you most grateful for?
My family. For a million and one reasons that I could never accurately express.

26)   Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
I would rather die than lose the memories I have made so far in one sense. If I were to suddenly lose all of my memories but continue to live and make new ones, I wouldn't even be able to accurately care for my children the way that I would have originally. I would not even be me without my memories.

27)   Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
No way. You always need to look at all sides of any story to be able to accurately determine the truth. That's why I believe so much in our justice system. You need to give everything a fair chance before you decide.

28)   Has your greatest fear ever come true?
No. My greatest fear is losing my children. I will always do my best to make sure that never happens. Other than that my worst fear is having to rely on them to take care of me. I can't help but feel like I would have failed as a parent if I ever had to ask them for anything.

29)   Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
Oh yeah, it still matters. The particular time that I am thinking of is when my parents forced us to get married when just a month beforehand they were completely against it. I wanted to get married at my own pace, and it still bothers me to this day. It's the reason I am so eager to start planning our vow renewal. I want to do it how I have always wanted to. I am still a little mad at them for it, so I just try not to think about it.

30)   What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
I was 15, learning how to drive, and my Mom had to teach me how to drive on the interstate.  She did so by going on a little trip with me to a town an hour away. When we got there we picked out fabric for my Homecoming dress, then ate at Burger King and went home. It was such a small thing but it had such a significant impact on me. I am the 6th of 7 kids, so there weren't a lot of times that I had my Mom all to myself. But that was one of those times.

31)   At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
When I'm singing. I always feel like that when I sing.

32)   If not now, then when?
Soon. =)

33)   If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
It's a work in progress.

34)   Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
That pretty much describes my first date with my husband.

35)   Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
I DON'T KNOW. I can't fathom it. No offense to anyone who may be reading, but I am atheist for a reason. When you are in a religion, you are accepting everything they say without question. Who would do that?

36)   Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
No way. There will always be gray area and blurred lines. We can only do what we think is best in the current moment.

37)   If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
My job is to be a loving mommy and wife, and I would never quit that for all the money in the world.

38)   Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
More work I enjoy doing. That's why I often pick up my glue gun rather than mopping the floor. =)

39)   Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
I guess you could put it that way, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the small differences between each day. When my kids learn something new, or when I get some valuable time to spend alone with my hubby.

40)   When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
February 26, 2012. When I founded my Etsy shop.

41)   If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
I'd stay home with my family, and call a few loved ones. My best friend, my Mom, etc.

42)   Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
No way. Both of those things are completely achievable on our own steam if we wanted it badly enough, and 10 more years just gives you more time to get there. I wouldn't feel right having something if I didn't earn it. Getting there is the best part.

43)   What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
You are alive even if you are just surviving, no matter how much you are struggling. Truly living is overcoming your fear and doing what makes you the happiest even when there might be risk involved.

44)   When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
It's always the time. You just have to be brave enough to take the first step.

45)   If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
Fear of being reprimanded or embarrassed. Mostly just fear in general of what might happen.

46)   What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I would say whatever is on my mind. I would probably wear different clothing. I would definitely sing and dance in the middle of the grocery store just for fun. =)

47)   When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
When I did Deaf for the Day. It was the only sound I really heard all day. And it was so peaceful.

48)   What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
I love my family, and I show that by taking care of them and giving them hugs and kisses every day.

49)   In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
Probably not. My memory is terrible, and nothing horrible significant has happened in the past few days. I will remember jabbing my finger on a skewer a couple days ago. Lol.

50)   Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
I'm making them for myself. That's the whole reason we are here. If I were letting other people run my life, we would be in a different place. Sometimes you have to disappoint the ones you love to make the best out of your own life and what you want to do with it.

Well that was interesting!! I actually do feel like I know myself a little better after that. And there's another 101 in 1001 done! I encourage everyone to do these questions, which I originally found here. Put them on your blog and link it back here, or even just do it privately and tell me about your experience. I'd love to hear it. =) Hope you learned a little bit more about me from this. Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Deaf for the Day

Can't believe it happened already.

I crossed off my 1st goal from my 101 in 1001 list.


It's true!!

Do another “Deaf for the Day” – only this time really do it for a WHOLE day.

To those of you who don't know what "Deaf for the Day" means, let me explain. I am fluent in American Sign Language, as is my hubby Max. No, I don't know anyone deaf. I just fell in love with the language when I took an ASL class in high school, and stuck with it. My hubby learned the same way. He doesn't know anyone deaf either, yet we are both fluent. It has really come in handy when we need to communicate from across a noisy area, or even when we are in a quiet area and don't want to be noisy. Plus the Deaf culture is just amazing. If you didn't know that Deafies had a "culture", you should look up Deaf culture or watch Switched at Birth on Netflix. It's awesome.

Anyways, back to the subject at hand. In our ASL class in high school, we had a project called "Deaf for the Day". It was sort of like our class final exam. We had to take someone else who knows sign language and go somewhere out in public for at least an hour, wearing ear plugs, and using only sign language for communication. Max and I were dating already at this time, so we went on a date to Applebee's while I was being "deaf". It was so interesting. The waitress looked at me at first, then when she realized that I was only signing to her, she started talking through Max. She kept asking "Does she want more water?", "Is she enjoying her food?", etc etc etc. I was astounded. Then everyone else in the restaurant started taking an interest in me. There were a couple of employees standing at the host pedestal near the entrance who kept staring and pointing at me while whispering to each other. By the end of the night, I figured out why. For some reason or another, they didn't believe I was really deaf. When we left, the young employees waited for us to walk outside, then BLASTED the outside speakers. I had taken out my earplugs at this point because they were uncomfortable, and the music made me jump. I looked through the window of the restaurant and saw them all laughing together and pointing at me. It was really embarrassing. But I just kept thinking to myself "How rude was that? If I really was deaf, my then-boyfriend-now-husband would have been furious, because they knew that he was hearing since he was interpreting for me all night. They would have scared the daylights out of him for absolutely no reason. Just to test me.

Years later, when we were married and Vincent was about 2 years old, I was working nights at a Chinese restaurant to help make ends meet. It was a good job, got plenty of free Chinese food and made some great friends, but my proudest moment on the job was when this Deaf couple came in. They signed "menu" to me, and I handed them one. They didn't think anything of that. That sign is pretty straight-forward. But then they signed "seat" and "stay", and I immediately showed them to their seats. I think they were impressed by that, but it wasn't until I signed "Ok?" in reference to their seating, then told them their "Waitress will be with you in a minute" in ASL that they turned to each other with their jaws hanging down. I walked away with pride, thinking that was the only interaction I would have with them, but then their waitress needed my help interpreting their orders. I was able to explain to them what was in each dish, successfully stopped the woman from accidentally ordering "Hot & Sour Soup" when she thought it was "Sweet & Sour Soup", and was able to tell them if I liked certain menu items or not. (Of course there wasn't anything on the menu I didn't like!) When they left, they passed me at the front counter and kept signing over and over "Thank you, thank you, thank you." I was beside myself with happiness.

And so after those experiences, I made a vow that I would do Deaf for the Day again someday, only for an entire day. I hadn't ever gotten around to it (or had a reason to) before my 101 in 1001 list. So when I woke up yesterday with absolutely NO voice from being sick, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. Max just happened to be home for the day so he could help me communicate with the kids. So we went for it.

We started the day off by going to Albertson's - the closest grocery store to where we live. I needed some herbal tea for my throat, not to mention some DayQuil. Also some earplugs - yes, I went all out. I signed with my husband throughout the whole store and I was surprised that unlike my 1st experience, no one seemed to pay any attention. The cashier looked directly at me when she greeted me, even though I know she saw me signing to Max in the checkout line. I nodded to her since I couldn't speak, and then when we were finished she just gave me a little wave goodbye. I was very impressed.

As for communicating with Vincent.... That was a little harder. But Max interpreted for us, and also he learned pretty quickly that if he was looking at me, I could pretty much understand what he wanted by reading his lips. We also gave both the kids unofficial sign-names. I say unofficial because it's an unwritten rule that an actual deaf person is supposed to give you your real sign-name. For Vincent we used "brave" signed with one hand and a "V" touching the shoulder, and for Eva we signed "beautiful" with an "E".

At one point in time though, Max came back from his night class in a huff and started yelling things at me. I just looked at him all confused. He had forgotten that he had been signing with me all day just from being away for an hour. That's because when you have been communicating with your hands for a long period of time, you enter the "Deaf Box". When you're in the Deaf Box, any and all noise sort of wakes you up in a sense. Noise brings you back to the land of the hearing. So in any case, he was furious because there was apparently an ant infestation in our vehicle, and he was trying to tell me that he was going to spray our car that night and asked me if we would be going anywhere for the rest of the night. He had a really hard time trying to sign to me through his anger, but he made it through.

Cooking was also pretty interesting, though. I couldn't hear the ground beef sizzling away in the pan and so I almost forgot about it entirely. Then I had to put the casserole in the oven and realized I wouldn't be able to hear my kitchen timer. I ended up setting the timer on my phone and set it to vibrate so that I would feel it in my pocket when dinner was ready.

When I finally took out the ear plugs that night, everything seemed REALLY noisy. I felt like I couldn't hear Max talking to me over the air conditioner and the hum of the computer. Then I suddenly realized..... That was the most peaceful day I've had in a looong time.

In any case, 12 hours of vocal rest and a million cups of tea later, my voice is almost back to normal today, and I'm back to listening to my kids scream and whine at me. Hooray. Lol.

It was a great experience, though. And before I wrap up, I wanna share some tips with you in case you ever come across a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing person.
#1: Always look at them when you are talking to them, even if there is an interpreter present. Most Deafies know how to read lips anyway.
#2: If you come across a Deaf person who can't lip-read by chance, and if you can't be bothered to learn at least the alphabet in ASL, just using normal body language or mimicking what you're trying to convey works fine. In fact, a lot of times the normal "body language sign" for something is the same as the ASL sign. Deafies will normally appreciate that you are making the effort.
#3: Never, EVER doubt their ability to do things that hearing people can do. EVER.

Hope you enjoyed sharing my experience with me. I know this was kind of a long one - I appreciate those of you who stuck through it to the end. =) You guys are awesome. 'Til next time!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Signature Dish

I think everyone should have a signature dish. Something that people can say "Oh, _______ makes the BEST ________". I didn't have one for a long time. I pretty much lived off of boxed dinners and my Mom's old recipes to get us by in the first few years of our marriage. Not that my family was complaining, it did us just fine. But then I started getting tired of it. (Watching the Food Channel a lot didn't help much either!) So I started searching for cool recipes and experimenting on my own. It was kind of a hit-and-miss process, but in the end I came out with some great stuff that my family LOVES.

One dish in particular was Twice Baked Potatoes. I had never heard of them before my hubby told me about it. He said his brother used to make twice baked potatoes for him and the rest of his siblings when they were growing up. He told me about the basic process of making them, and it sounded SO amazing that I decided to try my own version with stuff that I love in potatoes. And I came up with my signature dish.

Ever since I started making these, I have been doing it at LEAST twice a month (it is my favorite food in the world now, just FYI), and I have never ever had a single complaint about them. In fact, one of my extended family members wouldn't try them at first because he said he HATES sour cream, but he sucked it up and tried them one night when I made them and he said he was shocked because he loves them so much.

OK! Enough with the suspense. Here is the recipe for them, as well as an awesome tutorial.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Prep Time: About 30 minutes total
Cook Time: About 1 hour total
Makes 8 servings

8 medium Russet potatoes
olive oil
8-16 oz sour cream
1/4 - 1/2 cup fancy shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
6 Tbsp real bacon bits/pieces

1. Lightly coat each potato in a small amount of olive oil and salt.
 I normally put some salt and some olive oil in small dishes like these and then dip the ends of each potato in the olive oil and then coat it evenly with my hands. Just a small amount! Don't drench them, just make them slightly moist. Then repeat the process with the salt. Lightly coat them with your hands.

 2. Place in oven directly on center rack for around 45 minutes, or until the potatoes feel tender.
 I do it this way because I like to have a crispier shell. If you don't like it that way, you can always wrap them in foil before you stick them in the oven for a soft shell.

3. Remove from oven, place on a cookie sheet or other baking pan. Cut out tops of each potato and set aside.
 When you're done with this step it should look something like this. (Excuse my horrible pizza pan. It's in desperate need of replacement.) You can also just cut off the whole top quarter of the potato and achieve basically the same result, but I like to cut big ovals in the tops like this because when it's done it makes it look like the potato is exploding right from the shell. =)

4. Use a spoon to scoop out all the flesh of each potato and place it into a large mixing bowl.
 The potatoes should look similar to this when you are done scraping the insides out.
 And the bowl will look similar to this.

Remember to scrape the flesh off the top of the potatoes that you cut off as well. Then you have little left-over "potato skins" that my family loves to eat as a little tiny appetizer. Here's Vincent stealing one of them here. Hehe.

5. Add sour cream, butter, about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, bacon bits, and about half of the total amount of cheese you want to use.
 I don't have a specific amount of the sour cream and cheese listed because you should really just keep adding it until it tastes how you want it to. Just make sure to keep some of that cheese off to the side, we are going to do something else with it later.

6. Use a potato masher to mash and mix all ingredients together thoroughly.

 7. Transfer the new potato mixture back into the potato shells with a spoon.
 Fill them all up evenly first.....
 Then OVER-stuff them.

8. Sprinkle some of that leftover shredded cheese on top and gently pat down onto potato mixture.

9. Place in oven (still at 425) for another 10-15 minutes, or until top of cheese is golden brown and all inside potato mixture is re-heated.

 That's it! They are done. In case you were wondering, I use fancy-shredded cheese specifically because it makes the cheese on top crispy. I like it that way. If you don't, you can feel free to use regular shredded cheese. It will come out more melty and gooey.

 I usually eat the insides with a fork first, then pick up the shell and eat it with my hands. Sort of like soup in a bread bowl.
Or you can just be a crazy neanderthal like my son here and dig it out with your fingers.

So there you have it. This recipe is a no-brainer but it is freaking delicious. I have never had a twice baked potato at any restaurant that tastes better than mine. They are great for parties because you can very easily up the quantity of potatoes you make and the ingredients you use, and it looks fantastic when it's done. People will think you slaved away for hours. I have done a batch of 20+ potatoes for a large family get-together and it was really no harder than my regular batch of 8. Plus everyone loves it. Like I said, I have never had a complaint.

They are definitely not that great for you though. Especially since it's so hard to eat just one. Here's the nutrition info in case you were wondering about it.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 potato (218.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 10%Vitamin C 30%
Calcium 8%Iron 11%

Read more:

Have fun creating your culinary masterpiece!! Let me know if you try it, I would love to hear your thoughts!