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Friday, July 30th, 2010
4:49 pm - Roll Call
I know I haven't really blogged here since 2008, but I'm rooting for the return of LiveJournal. I really miss community blogging. Who's still left writing/reading here on LJ?

current mood: curious
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12:09 pm - on relationships, marriage, and happily ever after...

Lately, my friends have been coming to me (the only married one in the bunch) for relationship advice. So, I've been thinking a lot about relationships and why some work out and some don't. I used to believe in the idea of soul mates; the one person in the universe created for me. I don't anymore. That's not to say that I don't believe in true love. Indeed, I very much do.

I've dated a lot of men. And not just regular Joes. I've dated some amazing, mature, upstanding guys, with great families and handsome faces; the kind of men every father wants his daughter to marry. Fine men of character and integrity, who treat their mothers with respect and tell the truth to their girlfriends, even when it's harder than lying. These were guys that looked into my eyes and not at my chest when they talked to me; males who supported me in every way and had generous hearts. A comment from one of my exes during our last conversation together sums it up completely: "I was willing to give you the world."

With my track record for screwing up relationships, I don't how I got so lucky. At an early age, my father's example taught me to judge the character of a man, and so, I guess I avoided the bad apples. But with all these good men, I could never stay in a relationship longer than two years—even a great one. Why?

For all of my life, I believed love was something that would complete me and make my troubles disappear. True love would was the solution to feel lovely and happy and beautiful. When I found it, I'd be the confident, bold person I always desired to be. So, I built pedestals for my boyfriends to stand on and gave up my life for them, sometimes relocating hundreds of miles or quitting my job. They were going to make my life exciting and full of meaning. We were supposed to have a passionate, intense affair like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook; he was going to be my center—when I found him, I'd finally know what I'd been missing all my life.

It was all too much pressure for one man to carry; no one could ever fill shoes that big. And so, my search continued... one boyfriend... after another... and another... all ending in failure.

* * * *

If someone asked me ten years ago if I believed in soul mates, I’d have said yes. Today, I say no. In fact, I'm going to write something seemingly unromantic, something controversial that I've come to believe and even told A.C.: I don't believe my husband is the only person I could've married.

Reflecting upon my past relationships, had I known what I know now and been in the place I am now, I probably could've made at least two of those relationships work. Maybe more. I wonder if we might've had a chance.

Now that I've been through hell and back with my love life and I'm in currently the longest, most stable relationship I've ever been able to hold together, I can say this for certain:
A.C.is just a guy. I'm just a girl.

A.C. and I, we love each other to death, we have amazing conversations and we diligently work to build our relationship with precious memories. We're the best of friends and I turn to him for support, wisdom, and affection. But I know one truth: I am not going to find the meaning of life in our relationship. He isn’t going to solve my problems or fill the missing pieces of me. And he feels the same. In other words, we have low expectations. And it frees us to love everything about each other and enjoy a deep, soulful companionship.

Sounds bad, doesn't it? But it's not what it seems. If you think about it, it's a really beautiful thing, this freedom to love someone with no expectations. It's the stuff that unconditional love is made of. When hardships occur in my life, I don’t expect
A.C. to fix them. So, he has room to join me as a companion while I walk through the issues. If I have a bad day at work, I don't ask him to erase it when he gets home or release my annoyance on the dirty dishes he left in the sink. Instead, together, we'll go for takeout and I'll vent with him over a bowl of wonton soup. Loving him with low expectations gives me freedom to appreciate him for who he is and what he contributes to our marriage. It's love in its purest form.

* * * *

In theory, I might have been able to make things work with my old flames. But, in reality, timing is everything. Sadly, when I dated them, my emotional maturity was the level of infant—all about my needs, my desires. It took three years of soul searching, a whole lot of accepting/forgiving myself and accepting/forgiving other people in my life before I was ready to have a mature relationship.

When A.C. came into my life, I was finally able to make a conscious decision to sacrifice my expectations and fully commit. I could keep a healthy relationship; one in which I didn’t lose myself because I finally had a sense of self. So in a way, with the timing of it all, A.C. really was the only person I could've married. I suppose if I hadn’t met him, maybe eventually someone else would've come along and we would've made it work. Or maybe not. But A.C. was there at the right place and the right time and I was there at the right place and the right time. Our personalities complemented each other, we shared the same faith and vision for our lives, and we decided we could live with each others' faults. So, we chose to love each other and make it work.

Is that a totally unromantic, unmagical view of love? Some might say so. But, I think it's beautiful. Because the truth is, life isn’t made of the stuff of Hollywood movies. Why are Hollywood romances are so popular? They aren’t reality. We want to believe that the passion and romance reflected on big screen relationships comes naturally. It doesn't. Real passion and romance needs to be fostered and cultivated with trust and care. Real love is messy and grumpy and burdensome at times because it involves humans. And humans are messy and grumpy and burdensome at times. Real love is a daily, sacrificial choice. We choose to love even when we don’t feel like it.

That’s the beauty of it all… if two people can commit to love through the grit and grime and monotony of human imperfection, well, that’s more valuable than anything a Hollywood movie studio can dream up.



current mood: happy
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Thursday, October 30th, 2008
10:58 pm - Twitter, Anyone?
Anyone here on Twitter? I just joined. I can understand how Twitter is revolutionary for social networking and lightning fast information distribution. But, what will happen to Twitter when it finally becomes mainstream and people fill cyberspace with more junk? I doubt the world will need another one of my tweets like, I had Chipotle for dinner and now I have to poop!

Well, until Twitter loses steam, I'm on it for now: http://twitter.com/kelchau :-)
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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
6:47 pm - I'm in love with a city and her name is Paris
J'aime Paris! C'est tres beautiful. Le sigh.

I could live here. Paris is seriously the most beautiful city I've visited. I've heard amazing things about Prague also, but until I get a chance to visit Prague, Paris is number one in my books. I can't believe cities really look like this. A and I took a touristy boat cruise down the Seine yesterday. I'm so glad we did. It was like riding the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland. The city looked almost fake, it was that pretty.

I left Paris today and now I'm in Madrid. So far, Madrid reminds me of New York; it's a really busy city! We're staying in the heart of the city, which is like Times Square in NYC. More thoughts on Madrid later, but here are a few things I've noticed on vacation so far:
  • French people are skinny. By no means do I think I'm fat, but in Paris, I feel like an elephant. Everyone is a toothpick.
  • Parisians dress really well. They look really put together all the time! It reminds me of New York folks, who also look really nice all the time.
  • Paris is expensive. Our hotel was selling candy for 7 Euros. That's a bar of chocolate for $11! Internet was 39 Euros per day, or sixty freakin' dollars. Water runs around 2 Euros per bottle, or $3.50. Yikes.
  • The Louvre is amazing. It's prettier than any pictures I've seen. I could spend weeks in that place.
  • SF could learn a thing or two about efficient subways from the European metro systems. It is so easy to get around in Europe and I love not having to drive.
  • Madrid is crowded. Their metro system is really clean too. Paris' metro system is older and grittier and reminds me of New York subways.
  • I've heard a lot of people get pickpocketed in Spain. I can see how that's true. The metro system is crowded. When A and I hopped on the metro from the airport, it was packed like sardines. My backpack was pushed up against other passengers. I noticed right away that there were a handful of questionable people who kept glancing at our bags. When I stared them, they finally looked away.
  • I know why people take siestas in Spain. Everyone is awake and in the streets at 1am! I grabbed a late night bite yesterday, and the streets were alive  and crowded with people eating, hanging out, and drinking. All the shops were open too. How do these people go to work in the mornings?
Anyway, I'm off to sleep, so I'll leave you with some images. I can't believe these pictures are real. Parisians are so lucky. Their city is one to envy.



Le Tour d'Eiffel


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current mood: content
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Thursday, August 7th, 2008
2:21 pm - Red Velvet Perfection
This entry is for clearbright. :-) 

Darling friends, I have received the yummiest recipe for red velvet cake. My co-worker, who used to be a pastry chef at the Ritz Carlton, is starting her own cupcake business. I told her that I wanted to make a red velvet birthday cake for a girlfriend and she gave me her fool proof recipe. She also gave me recipes for a ton of other goodies that I'll be baking in the future. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. :-) 

I made the cake twice in one weekend: first, a test batch of delicious cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and later, a double layer cake, frosted with vanilla buttercream. Heaven in a mouthful!

But first, the scrumptious pictures:



Red velvet, pre frosting. Soooooooooo goooood.




And with the outside frosted!




My practice batch made about 16-18 cupcakes.




Frosted with chocolate sprinkles. NOM NOM NOM.

I know my cake decorating skills aren't up to par, but I promise the reicpe was delicious. It was the perfect texture: moist, fluffy, and scrumdiddlyumptious. In fact, it was so good that I ate it three days in a row. *burp* :-) My friends all took home leftovers too!

Now, for the yummy recipe! You'll need a food scale for this one. It’s in grams because my co-worker is a pastry chef and she measures everything very precisely.

RED VELVET CAKE

Ingredients:
328g All Purpose Flour
288g Sugar
4g Baking Soda
6g Salt
10g Cocoa Powder
286g Veg. Oil
252g Buttermilk
2ea Eggs
2 Tbsp Red Food Coloring
6g White Vinegar
6g Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 (measure your oven with an oven thermometer to ensure accurate temp).
2. Combine all dry and sifted.
3. Combine all wet (I combined the sugar with the wet ingredients).
4. Add dry into wet and mix lightly. Pour into two cake pans. If you're making cupcakes with the recipe, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 full, but no more than 3/4.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Touch the top of the cake. If it springs back with slight resistance, it is done. Otherwise, bake for 5 minutes and check again. Or, insert a toothpick diagonally into the center of the cake. It should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached.
6. Cool the cake to room temp before decorating.
7. Slice the rounded tops off the cakes and frost with desired icing.

BUTTER CREAM ICING
(I found this recipe on Chowhound and it worked perfectly with the cake)

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Butter (softened to room temp)
1 Cup Superfine Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Mix cornstarch with milk. Cook on medium heat until thick, whisking the entire time. Set aside to cool.
2. Cream butter until fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and cooked cornstarch mixture slowly. Beat until it feels like whipped cream. The sugar should be dissolved and the frosting should not be grainy. (Touch with your fingertip to test)
4. Ice your cake!

Personally, I preferred the buttercream frosting, but if cream cheese is your liking, I used this recipe on the cupcakes:

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients
2  8oz packages of cream cheese softened to room temp
1 stick of butter (unsalted) softened to room temp
2-3 cups of sifted powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like the frosting)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions

1. Cream the butter + cream cheese together with an electric mixer until fluffy.
2. Add vanilla extract.
3. Gradually whip in the sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired sweetness.
4. Continue to whip until fluffy.
5. Scoop into a pastry bag with a decorating tip and pipe onto your cupcakes!

Happy eating, folks! :-)



current mood: hungry
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Friday, November 23rd, 2007
2:40 pm - Coffee Snob

I LOVE coffee. Ever since I was a child, I've loved coffee flavored everything... cakes, ice cream, even coffee-flavored short ribs. The hubs doesn't like coffee at all, but he calls me a coffee snob. I admit, I'm VERY particular about my coffee. Ever since I've been exposed to the good stuff, I can't go back to drinking the tasteless, brown dirt-water that S-Bux considers coffee.

This week, I picked myself up a new burr grinder. I gave the same grinder to my parents as a Christmas gift last year and it's the best gift I ever purchased for them. They use it every single day. I was debating between buying the Capresso or the Gaggia, but since I make my coffee with a French press, I decided to save $100 and go with the Capresso.

If you're a coffee lover and haven't yet tried a cup-a-joe made with a French press, you must try it. A French press is the single best method to brew non-espresso coffee and it's very quick and easy. The reason that press pot brewing is recommended over drip, is because the coffee is not brewed through a paper filter so you don't lose any of the good flavors that get stuck in the filter or pick up any weird paper flavors. I'm an espresso lover myself, but I don't have the luxury of owning a machine. French press satisfies my cravings for a good cup just as much as a latte. I taught my parents how to brew with a press and now they are converts. All they drink is French press.

Anyway, here is Kel's method on how to make a single serving of deliciously brewed coffee using a French press:

IMG_2942
This is my coffee brewing equipment: A canister to store the whole beans, a 2 tbsp metal measuring spoon, my burr grinder, and a 12oz Bodum press pot.


IMG_2952
Many people don't know this, but coffee quickly loses it's aroma and flavor once it's ground. To optimize the coffee freshness, beans should be stored in an airtight container and ground right before brewing.


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Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
12:37 pm - Our One-Monthiversary

I can't believe it has already been a month of marriage!

A surprised me yesterday and took me out to celebrate our first month of newlywed bliss. We had a delicious meal at Clementine, a wonderful little French restaurant in the Richmond district of San Francisco. The food and service was excellent. We'll definitely be visiting again soon. 

IMG_2923
A snapped a picture of me while we were waiting for our food.

IMG_2941
This is my goofball of a husband.

IMG_2928
Our appetizer was marinated salmon and tuna tartar with sliced almonds and hazelnut oil. It was SO GOOD. I could eat a bowl of this everyday.

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current mood: happy
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Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
11:13 am - better together
I'm going to make you guys gag from corniness right now, but I just thought I'd share this fun little music video that A and I created for our wedding. :-) We played the clip right at the beginning of our reception, before we entered the banquet room and were introduced as "Mr. & Mrs. A." All filming was shot in just a few hours by A's sister and our friend. The footage was edited by said friend who is currently studying film editing in art school.

The song is titled "Better Together," by Jack Johnson and additional credit goes out to Wong Fu Productions from whom A finds his creative inspiration.

Enjoy!



current mood: working
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