100% recycled white elephant gift.

A white elephant gift exchange is probably the only situation in which re-gifting is appropriate and/or encouraged.  I'm involved in at least two of them this year; today I actually went and spent $ buying a new one because it didn't occur to me that I could find something relatively nice, if useless to me, gift lying around my apartment.

For tomorrow's exchange at work, I'm giving away a set of sushi plate + soy sauce saucer that I inherited from someone; it's actually quite cute but I don't eat sushi at home at all, so I've barely even taken it out of its original box.

In the spirit of re-gifting I recycled some old wrapping paper as well as some green tissue that I cut into rectangles and fashioned into little flower-pom-poms.  They hide the wrinkles in the paper nicely, I think, and anyway I don't feel too badly about using wrinkled paper for something that will be torn into anyway. Adds a bit to the rustic charm, methinks ;)

It was a modest Lim family Thanksgiving...

Having gorged on Wendy's pre-Thanksgiving feast the week before, and already eaten turkey leftovers all of that week, I was glad my parents kept it simple on Thanksgiving Day.  We just had some family over for Burmese curry chicken rice.  Yum.

I dropped by Taco Nazo with Karin, but somehow the tacos tasted kind of different.  Good, but not quite as spectacular as I remembered.

Saw New Moon at the Grove with Lils, followed by burgers, beer and baskets of fries at Father's Office.

Had some down-home Hawaiian at King's Hawaiian in Torrance with high school friends.  And closed out the long weekend with Mexican eats at Los Sanchez in Santa Ana.

HAPPY BASTILLE DAY TO ALL...

...and to all a good day!

Bastille Day is one of those foreign holidays I inexplicably get excited about every year. Maybe because one of my fondest memories of, of all places, NYC, was browsing Bastille Day street stalls in the Upper East Side, buying a big bowlful of moules et frites (mussels and french fries) and settling down on a grassy island median in the middle of Park Ave. and eating it with friends.

That was the summer of 2002, a legendary summer!

Just about the easiest thing you can do for your mom.

No, I don't get any kind of commission or cut of this.  I don't even really like Hallmark cards.  But someone sent me this Hallmark promotion and I was impressed with how easy it was (and to be truthful, kind of fun to personalize it!).

Not to mention, it's free.  Don't forget your mom this Mother's Day!


Hallmark.com is offering a free 5x7 paper card that will be mailed to your mother with personalized wishes. Postage is also included. Just in time for Mother's Day.

Hallmark is offering Free 5x7 Card for Mother's Day. Choose and customize a card, register & checkout. Enter promo code CARD4MOM to receive $3.91 discount. Shipping is also free.

Happy Easter!

I went to the 8:30am service for the first time in my life and was shocked to see how packed it was.  So painfully early on a weekend morning!  This passage from Pastor Paul's sermon really stayed with me, from Romans 5:

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I actually had never come across that particular verse before, and it very neatly boiled down for me why I believe what I believe.  And I have to laugh a little when I hear people asking the question, "what is love?" Because for me, that right there, is it--giving someone what s/he needs the most, when s/he least deserves it.

Pictures from the tea party

Those little sandwiches are surprisingly labor-intensive!  But was great to see everyone in one place and I was delighted to see that some people actually dressed up as encouraged.

On the menu: home-made lemon curd and TJ's crumpets, mini peanut butter cup waffles, homemade Foster's scones, assortment of biscuits and cookies, tea sandwiches (pear & brie, cucumber & cream cheese, braunschweiger & tomato).  

Plus people brought an astounding array of delicious foods to share: strawberry cream puffs, NYC cheesecake, currant loaf, mini-samosas, blackberry cake, devonshire cream, cornbread (?), fruit, orange madeleines, and on and on and on.  Good times.

Happy Chinese New Year

...from my mom!  I love my mom.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: My mom
Date: Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 4:18 AM
Subject: Happy Chinese New Year
To: Me, my brother, and a bunch of family

HAPPY HAPPY GREAT CHINESE NEW YEAR
BE HEALTHY &  WEALTHY THROUGH OUT THE WHOLE YEAR
MAY GOD BLESS  U & YOUR FAMILY WITH   HIS  WISDOM
&  ALSO  KEEP  U SAFE  ALLWAYS
MUCH LOVEEEEEE
M----

Doing my part to help the economy: All I want for Christmas!

I've always had a practical approach to gifts, both giving and receiving, and there are few things that stress me out more than a useless gift, especially well-intentioned.  I appreciate the thought, but I literally don't know what to do with it.  

I hope I don't sound terribly crass and ungrateful; I'm not trying to be.  I just prefer to receive things that I will use (better yet if it is functional AND beautiful), or receive nothing material at all.  Of course, quality time, friendly notes and other immaterials are always welcomed.

That said, my definition of 'use' is pretty liberal.  Reading, listening, watching, or hanging something on my wall are all good uses in my opinion.  And so, here are some things I might buy myself or ask for this holiday season:
  • Kitchen stuff: A food processor, 7-9 cup that can handle dough, and two 12-cup madeleine baking pans
  • Music: Lisa Hannigan's debut, Sea Sew and Explosions in the Sky, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
  • Two types of slow cooker cookbooks, one 'gourmet', and one that will teach me how to use the new slow-cooker I got.
  • Clothes: A pair of rockin' leather boots, rain boots (no, I never did buy them!), an exotic animal-skin accessory like the lizard card case or wide cuff below, a decent watch (haven't worn one for years b/c the $8 ones I bought on Canal St. in NYC kept breaking and/or getting lost), a unique coat I can wear every day, more modern/organic-looking gold jewelry
  • Things to keep me warm like the scarflette below, a pair of fingerless arm warmers, or a skirt in tartan plaid.
  • A Rosenthal 'Magic Flute' sugar bowl. I encountered one of these during our trip to French Laundry.  I am usually indifferent to china, but this was one of the most exquisite pieces I've ever held in my hands--it was inspiring.
  • Books: Cupid & Psyche by KY Craft (my favorite myth retold by a favorite illustrator), The Sacred Heart: An Atlas of the Body Seen Through Invasive Surgery by Max Aguilera-Hellweg, and the catalog of works by Tim Hawkinson, the contemporary artist whose exhibit at LACMA a couple years ago changed my life.
  • MoviesPenelope, Anne of Green Gables series, A Little PrincessGossip Girl: Season 1Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre
  • A complete/basic and modern how-to book on sewing.
  • A trip to someplace warm and interesting.

One of my best friends and I have a very unromantic but effective gift-giving process--either just asking each other what the other wants, or finding each other's Amazon, eBay or etsy wish lists and buying off those.  One year I literally got her a hair dryer (a damned-good ionic one!). 

My early Christmas present to Garry?  A kickass Zojirushi rice cooker that makes perfect rice every time!  Unromantic you say?  What's not romantic about the fact that he uses it every day to make delicious food we can share together?

Advent Conspiracy for a more meaningful Christmas

Reblogged from a dear friend, who posted it on her Facebook.

Since the malls and the TV commercials are already gearing up for Christmas, I'd like to share this video that spoke to me.  So far I've only bought one gift (which I think was pretty useful)... my family's not really a gift-giving family, which I'm fine with, and it's been a while since my friends and I have exchanged gifts, which I'm also fine with.

I think the numbers were really what got me.  Think about it...