Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

I want to send a late happy birthday to Jimmy at What One Man Can Do, Another Can Do! Sorry that I did not find out that it was your birthday yesterday until now! Happy 49!

Snow Day

It snowed again. We really have enough this year. Even though I don't like the traffic problem and shuffling problem due to the snow, I do like the beautiful looks of snow on trees and houses. More pictures are on my Flickr page.

I had a very peaceful Christmas. Spent time with my friend's family and exchanges some gifts. I got an ice cream maker, some more baking wares. Guess everybody likes my baking goodies such as those Christmas cookies.

For Christmas dinner at my friend's place, I made a moister 2-layer chocolate cake. The filling was the chocolate ganache with the whipped cream. The frosting on the side was the butter cream and the top was whipped cream sprinkled with peppermint crushed candy pieces. Decorated with homemade chocolate trees and "Happy Xmas" text.

I did join part of the post-Christmas sales crowd in the mall to pick up some dressing pants and the Christmas ornaments (75% off!) for next year. Overall, it is a relaxed holiday. Now I just have to start to prepare the 3-week long Europe work assignments after the New Year. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cookies Gift

Merry Christmas! This is my Christmas cookies gift!

Monday, December 24, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 12 - Thumbprint Cookies

This is the ultimate cookie gift I gave away this year. Seven different kinds of jams are used for this cookie: strawberry, raspberry, grape, apricot, orange, cherry, apple. The cookie itself is the nice pastry dough mixed with coconut flakes and chopped pecans/walnuts. It is pretty and tastes very good.

Well, this is the end of my 12 Days of Christmas cookies. Hope that everybody has a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 11 - Mint Chocolate Cookies

This is not the average bland girl scout mint chocolate cookie. The fresh mint chocolate coating on the nice Ritz crackers and topped with the crushed peppermint candies almost make this cookie my favorite this year! And it starts to snow again outside. Aw, well, guess it will be a white Christmas here for sure.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 10 - Cranberry Squares

This is a nice cookie bar recipe that utilizes the cranberry. The crust is made of quick cooking, oats, flour, and sugar. The filling is made of the cook down cranberries and sugar. Good taste. Again, I did not have time to take the picture of this one so I used one of the picture from Kraft Foods, where I got the recipe from.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

12 Days of Christmas cookies - Day 9 - Citrus Cooler

This is basically a sugar cookie brushed with food colored lemon juice/powder sugar mix on the top. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas cookies - Day 8 - Citrus Squares

Finally, it is the weekend. The weather is warmer (around 40'F) but very foggy. the visibility is so bad that you can only see about 50 yards away. The good news is that the snow starts to melt.

Since I had to rush to send all the cookies out to my friends, I did not get a chance to take the pictures of the Citrus Squares and Citrus Coolers. I used the pictures from the Food Networks, where I got the recipe from.

The citrus squares have nice cookie dough crust, top with a layer of raspberry jam, then add another layer of mix of eggs, sugar, sweetened condensed milk,lemon and clementines juice/zest. Very citrus if you like orange/lemon taste.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 7 - Peanut Butter Jelly Bar

The Whole 16oz jar of Skimp peanut butter used to form the dough and topping. And the filling is a jar of 16 oz grape jelly. Wonderful taste and it made the house smelled like heaven during the baking.

Due to the sudden increasing amount of tasks at work, I could post until now. That's the reason why 3 cookies got post in one day. I guess everybody just tries to finish all the work before holiday vacation. Do let me know if you are interested in the recipe of any cookie I post.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 6 - Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know what this is. :)

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 5 - Lemon Drop Cookies

Lemonade concentrate mixed in the dough with nutmeg/sugar on the surface. Soft nice cookie.

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 4 - Anise Cookies

OK, apparently, I did not count the days correctly so I will have to post one more cookies today to make it on time for Christmas. Fortunately, the recent cold weather (only 10'F outside now! Cold!) actually helps make this cookie.

This is actually an old Germany/Italian recipe from one of my friend's great aunt. It has eggs, flour, baking zest, anise oil and lemon zest. Let it sit out and uncover in the cold environment overnight to form the glaze. I formed the dough and use a spoon to scoop and drop the small size of dough on the cookie sheet. Then, I put all the cookie sheets/cookies in my car and parked the car outside the garage over night in the frozen weather. On the second day morning, all cookies formed the glaze, then baked them in the oven at 350 degree for 15 minute. A really nice cookie for dipping in coffee or milk.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 3 - Chunky Chocolate Jam Bar

Here is the second bar cookie I baked so far. Flour, quick-cooking oats, coconuts and chopped pecans make the crust and crumble on the top. And the filling is a layer of raspberry jam over a layer of the chocolate chips. The combination of the chunky chocolate, sweet/tart raspberry jam and the multi-flavor of oat/coconut crust actually makes this cookie the crowd favorite so far.

I was actually a little panick at work today because I thought today was Tuesday. I still have not sent most of the Christmas cards. Guess I need to speed up!

As request, you can find the recipe of this cookie here. Have fun!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 2 - White Choc Sugar Cookie!

Did more baking yesterday since it snowed again. This is a sugar cookie with dried orange cranberry and walnuts, coating with the white chocolate! Not too sweet but tasty.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 1 - Lemon Cream Bars

It is snowing again outside today. On the top of the already accumulated 2 feet snow, it really makes a mess. And it's only early December! What a long winter this year will be.

Anyway, I have started to bake different kind of cookies for Christmas. Every year, I bake multiple kinds of cookies so I can send them as the gift. Here is the first one I make this year: Lemon Cream Bars.

The crust and top crumbles are both made of moisture lemon cake mix with crush walnuts and eggs. The filling is the mixture of lemon frosting, cream cheese and eggs. Bake at 350 degree for 35 minute until the top is golden brown and you get these delicious, not too sweet, very tasty bars. The bonus is that it makes the whole house smells very lemony and good.

Red Velvet Amaryllis

The second Amaryllis now is fully blooming. It has the rare true velvet red, not the usual orange or salmon kind of citrus you see in any other flower. It makes a perfect gift for the Xmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Amaryllis This Year

It's almost Christmas and my first Amaryllis is blooming like crazy now. Every flower is about 7" wide and every stem carries almost 5-7 flowers. Beautiful!

Happy Birthday, Derek!

I want to send "Happy Big-40" to Derek at Still Thinking!
Happy birthday, bud!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Helsinki, Finland Trip Conclusion

I have been back to US from Helsinki, Finland since last Friday. It was another 19-hour long trip and I was still trying to recover from the jet lag. The picture shown here was the pitiful Christmas tree in the front of the Helsinki facility. It was really like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree so I had to take a picture. And please notice that the picture was taken at 1pm during a clear day. As you can see, still very dark and almost no day light. Don't think I can stand to stay the whole winter there.

Another interesting thing is that all the local engineers wore only sandals at work. Very strange dress code there. :) I just wonder if they wore the snow boots to the office and changed into the comfortable sandals.

Next interesting thing is the way they made the bed in the hotel. I had a little bit difficult time to figure out how to sleep with those comforts. There were 2 pieces of comforts kind of stuff folded half on the bed. That's it. Not sure how I was supposed to sleep in. Should I just sleep in between of one of the folded comforts and left a big opening on the side of my body or should I just open up one of comforts to cover myself? I guess it is either way.

Well, the last picture is the Helsinki train station. The weather was miserable that night, rainy and old, so I could not take any good picture. There are a couple of more pictures on my flickr account if you are interested in seeing them. Overall, it was a good trip but the flight was just way too long and I had to change flights 3 times. Of course, it does not help that it was cold and snowy just like Finland when I came back to Wisconsin. And there might be an ice storm here tomorrow, yikes!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Helsinki, Finland, Day 3 - Night Out

Ok, I am dog tired now after the full day work, 3-hour dinner in downtown Helsinki and 1.5 mile walk in the cold to the downtown bar area and took the taxi back to the hotel (25 miles away from downtown actually). Just post a picture of downtown. Sorry that my poor cell phone camera could not take some high quality picture.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Helsinki, Finland Day 2

Ok, now I finally "feel" how north Finland is on the earth. This pictures was taken 8am from my hotel room and it looked just like mid-night! And it never really got bright through the day. Just cloudy, gray and snow. Yike!

Good news is that things went very well for work. We met the local team and had several good meetings and discussions. But it was quite a long day and we worked from 9:00am to 6pm and came out of the building to find out that it had snowed another 4" or so. Since we did not have cars, we all ate at the hotel restaurant again. Hope that I will get a chance to see something else besides hotel, manufacture, and airport tomorrow since I leave on Thursday 7:00am.

One thing I found out very interesting in the hotel I stay is the fire exit. It is located outside the hallway and it is lighted up as blue neon! I went outside to take some pictures and found out that it was covered by snow and ice. What a nice way to have people trip and slide from 4th floor to the first floor if they try to flee from the room during the fire!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Trip to Finland

After 19-hour travel, I finally got to Helsinki, Finland. Just checked in the hotel which is only 5 minute drive from the airport. There is snow everywhere on the ground, at least 5", and about 35'F. Not that cold since it is not windy.

The first leg of my flight was delayed due to the snow storm as you can see from the picture. I took it from the airplane window. We sat on the runway for almost 1 hour and finally got the permission to take off. As you can imagine, it almost messed up all the rest of my flights. When we got to Detroit, the next flight had started the boarding process so I had to run like crazy at the airport and barely made it before the cabin door closed.

The second leg of the flight was actually late again since the snow storm had caught up and moved from Milwaukee area to Detroit area as well. It was another fully booked flight and the woman sat next to me was really really smelly. It was like that she had not taken showers for weeks. I had to endure through the small seats and smell for the next 8 hours. Fortunately, at least, the entertainment unit on the plane worked and I played some video games and watched the movie, "Stardust". Very interesting movie.

We got to the Amsterdam late so I only got about 1 hour to pass the custom and walk miles to the other end of the terminal. Fortunately, no delay for the last leg of the flight. Checked in the hotel and as usual, very tiny room. I found this strange shower head thing in the bathroom and wondered what it was for. Wash ass or woman's private area?

Got to take a nap now. It's already dark and cloudy outside even though it is only 3pm.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

RSNA 2007

Yesterday, I spent the whole day at the annual RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) meetings and exhibitions in Chicago. My company was nice enough to rent a 50-people bus to transport employees to Chicago for the exhibitions. However, there were only 6 of us on the bus. Lots of people just somehow could not make it. The traffic was quite bad in the morning. We left the company parking lot in Milwaukee around 7am and did not get to Chicago until 10:30am. It was only about 99 miles and should only take about 1.5 hour usually.

Anyway, there were already very crowded in the McCormick Place when we got there. RSNA is the world largest radiology commercial show and conference. This year, there are 7800 booths from the companies all over the world. More than 62,000 radio logiest, medical doctors, hospital chairman, university project leaders, etc etc will be there. As you can imagine, there are Dr. A to Dr. Z all over the place. And every hour, there are usually million and million dollars of medical equipment ordered. Just take a look at the palace size of the booth from the major companies such as GE, Siemens, Phillips, and Toshiba, it is not difficult to understand why medical cost is so expensive. The meeting basically takes over all 3 main buildings of the McCormick Place. Just to give you an idea of how big this show is, here is the size of McCormick place:

2.7 million sq. ft. of exhibit halls
1.2 million square feet all on one level
175 meeting rooms
700,000 square feet of meeting room space
Ceiling heights up to 50 feet
Easy access to 5,000 parking spaces

Since I used to work for one of the biggest medical equipment company, I could never walk into other companies' booth without being yelled at or escorted out. It is a very competitive industry. This year, I finally can walk freely and check out all the different products from various companies since the company I work for actually is the supplier for all big companies. Anyway, it was very interesting to walk around and gather some new information. However, the food service there was not impressive. Since the Chinatown was just 5 blocks away, my co-workers and I just took a taxi to there ( only 5 minute ride and cost $5 with tip) and enjoyed a nice spicy Chinese food lunch. And we headed back to Milwaukee around 2:30pm to get away the rush hour. This time, it only took about 2 hours. Quite an interesting trip. By the way, sorry about the quality of the pictures. It was my first time to use the new cell phone to take the pictures so it did not turn out that well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Holiday

Time always passes faster when it is vacation/holiday. The four-day Thanksgiving long weekend is over and I am back to work again.

It was a relaxed holiday. Of course, we had about 3 inches snow and the temperature dropped down to 30s and wind chill 10s. Not the best weather but at least it was sunny. On Thursday, I got invited to a Thanksgiving dinner and decided to make the sweet potato ball as the dessert dish. I mixed the smashed sweet potato, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and nutmeg and formed the ball with a marshmallow in the center. Then, I coated it with the mix of cinnamon, sugar and coconut flakes and baked for 15 minutes. Let it cool for 30 minutes and serve warm. Very nice taste and the friends' kids could not even tell them were sweet potato and ate them all.

I did manage to get up around 6am for some black Friday shopping. However, it was still not early enough to get those door buster in Best Buy/Target for $3 50-pack DVD+R Rom thing. So, I ended of buying nothing and just enjoyed watching the crowd.

And I just relaxed at home for the rest of 2 days and visited a cake decoration store that I just found close by and got some stuff for the Christmas cookies and cakes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pictures From My Netherlands Trip

I have been back from Netherlands trip for almost 4 days now. However, I have to go right back to work immediately so I don't have that much time to post details about the last part of the trip.

Anyway, I uploaded the pictures I took in Eindhoven to my Flicker account with the link below: Pictures from my Netherlands trip

The picture shown here is the Netherlands police car. It is very tiny and does not look anywhere close to the big law enforcement car as we have here in US. I will write more later.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day 3 in Netherlands

It was a beautiful day so far. The temperature was around 50'F and sunny during the whole daytime. Since the first meeting did not start until almost 11:00am, I got some free time to be the tourist to walk around the downtown shopping area. Most of the stores are open at 9am and closed around 5:30pm during the weekday so all I could see was the closed gates of all the stores at night time. I went to the bank to exchange some Euros with my US dollars. It turned out that they charged almost $6 transaction fee for that. So, my US $60 only got 33 Euro back! That was just terrible.

Anyway, I got to walk around blocks after blocks of the small shops and stores. I even managed to find where the mall (Heuvelgalerie shopping centre) was. It was just behind my hotel! Guess the main entrance was closed when I came back from work since I got to here. I was looking for some local souvenirs to buy but could not find any in my one and a half hour of the walking exploration.

On the way, I accidently found the biggest electronic store in the city,"Media Makt". It was like a 4-level super size Best Buy stores. It sold all kinds of appliances, computers, TV, DVD players, games, cables, camera, etc. At last, I was wandering close to the Eindhoven railway station and found that there was a small store selling some kind of souvenirs but it was not open. And I was quite far from the hotel and out of time so I could only walk back to hotel. And I am not sure if I will have time to buy anything since my first meeting tomorrow will be 8:00am.

After the work, my co-worker and I went to a Chinese dim-sum place and had quite a good meal. The food was very authentic and not cheap. I guess everything was expensive due to the weak US dollar, that is, bad converting rate for us. Well, I'd better go to bed since it will be an early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Work Day 2 In Eindhoven, Netherlands

The meetings today all went very well. The rain finally stopped and we got to see the pretty fall scenery on the way back to hotel.

Well, it turned out that we went to an American grill steak house, "Rodeo", for dinner today. It is just interesting to come to Europe and go to an American style restaurant. Normally, I would prefer more local cuisine. What can I say, my co-worker was just a meat eater and wanted a big steak. And there was really an electric cow you could sit on it on and played rodeo. I ordered a combo of tenderloin (beef) and lamb chop. It was not bad. Still a little bit too raw for me even it was medium done. My co-worker really liked the Westmalle Dubbel trappist beer and he even managed to convinced the restaurant manager to sell him the glass served the beer. Apparently, most of the places here served the beer in the brand matching glass.

After the dinner, we went back to the bar in the hotel since my co-worker wanted to have more beer. I again ordered the fizzle ice tea. We asked the waitress what was the deal with all the sparkling ice tea and she said ice tea was like that all over the Europe. They did not have gas-free (bubble-free) ice tea until almost one year ago and it was most for kids. :) And of course, the ice tea came with the matching brand glass. I have never seen the Lipton tea glass before. Quite interesting. Maybe I should buy a ice tea glass to take home too!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Work Day 1 in Netherlands

It has been constantly raining since last night. It is actually the peak time of the fall color here. Leaves are gold and red everywhere. But I really could see too much of the scenery since it was just really wet and chilly here. I now regret not to bring a small umbrella with me. Fortunately, I have brought a cap so at least it kept my hair dry.

Got up around 7:00am and went down to the restaurant downstairs for the free breakfast. It was actually very good with lots of choices of pastry, bread, sandwich meats, scramble eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and juice. After that, we got on the rental BMW and drove toward the headquarter of the company. The traffic was pretty bad. Of course, the constantly rain did not help. There were so many people riding bicycles on the road that I thought I was in mainland China! And most of the bicyclists did not follow the traffic rules at all. They ran the red light, ignored the rights of the pedestrians, even tried to cross the street in the front of the car at the last minute. It really makes me re-think about the policy of encouraging people to ride the bike to work back to US.

Anyway, we got to the company around 8:30am. It was quite a big place but looked quite like a college campus instead of a corporation. I think the building style and the fact that everybody was in separated room as the office made me feel that. We had meetings from morning to the afternoon. Only got about 40 minutes for the lunch. There were not a lot of choices for the lunch in the company cafeteria. Even though I don't eat the fried food usually but I saw this strange look of the fried sphere kind of the food so I gave it a try anyway. It turned out to be the fried meat balls and it actually was not bad. My co-worker ordered some hot dish with one small piece of the chicken and some broccoli and potatoes. It did not look tasty at all so no wonder he only ate the chicken.

Most of the meetings went pretty well and I got to meet lots of people. Overall, I think that they are very open to the suggestions/comments we make. We left the work around 5:00pm and it was already very dark outside. The same rain and bad traffic all over again.

We went back to the hotel and walked to a Thai restaurant next to the hotel for dinner. The place was very nicely decorated. They had this nice step-up stone platform built on the entrance that had a fish pond surrounding it. So it was almost like walked past a bridge to the dining area. However, they had very limited menu and even did not have Thai ice tea I usually would order in any Thai place. So I ordered the ice tea. It was actually Lipton ice tea. However, it was sparking! Very strange. It was like drinking an ice tea soda.

Anyway, we ordered Massaman pork and beef. They are the dishes using the coconut milk and the Massaman curry. They were not bad. They also served the very spicy peanuts as the appetizer, which was quite different too.

Our waiter was a thin fetish Asian guy. On our way out of the restaurant, my co-worker tripped on the edge of that stone platform and he almost fell. The waiter immediately came to hold my co-worker's right arm with his right hand and surrounded his left arm around my co-worker's waist and patted him several times on the left side of his belly. I could just see the big grin on his face when he did that. I was a little bit stunned by my co-worker's near-fall incidence but was even more shocked to see the waiter's daring behavior. Well, should I say, fortunately, my co-worker, who is a silver ex-military midwest married beefy guy, had a couple of drinks and did not notice anything strange anyway. Otherwise, I think that waiter would be in big trouble based on what I know about my co-worker.

We then walked to the small supermarket next to the hotel to look around. My co-worker is really crazy about one kind of Dutch beer called "La Trappe Dubbel". He bought 6 bottles of that beer and I had to help carry some for him. Of course, it cost only 0.95 Euro (about US $2) per bottle here. He said that it would cost $9 per bottle in US and he really liked the taste. And he said that we would go back to buy more before we headed back to Wisconsin.

It took me almost 40 minutes to write this post so far. I am going to take a shower and go to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Arrived At Eindhoven, Netherlands

After 14 hours of the traveling, finally, we got to Eindhoven, Netherlands. We actually flew to Dusseldorf, Germany and drove a rental car to Eindhoven. The flight from Detroit to Dusseldorf was sold out so it was very crowded and not comfortable to spend 7-hour red eye flight in a coach class old seat. And the guy next to me kept falling asleep and leaning his head on me. I did not sleep that mcuh.

We got to Dusseldorf fine. This was my first time ever to Europe continent (previous trip to UK does not count I assume). It was just quite different about everything. We rent a car but almost could not find "the" car since the sign was very not clear.

Eventually, we found the rental car. Then, we could not find the way to get of the aiport parking lot. After consulting the local policeman and woman, we were heading to the highway. However, they forgot to mention that there was no East/West/North/South direction sign on the highway here so we got lost on the highway and drove to the opposite direction. Fortunately, my co-worker who drove/rent the car actually had a Microsoft GPS and live map stuff with him so we finally got to the town after several incidence of passing the exit. Of course, it did not help that we were actually very tired from the flight. We got to the hotel around 1:30pm but could not check in so we went out for lunch.

Almost all the stores were closed so we could only pick one of the few restaurants that was open. The service was super slow and the food was not even that good but expensive. We finally got back to the hotel about 3:00pm. I spent 25 Euro on buying one-week internet pass. I took some pictures but my new computer does not read the flash memory card from my camera so I can only use the picture of the hotel I stay now from its website. I will upload more pics I take once I get back home. The lady in the picture of the front desk actually was there to check us in.

After checking in, I took a shower and several hours of nap. My co-worker and I then went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. It was small but very nice atmosphere. The menu was not that familiar to me since most of the dishes were not seen in any US Italian restaurant. Anyway, I eventually found something familiar, Calzone, so I ordered it. It was not bad but I did not like the sour olives in it. My co-worker ordered something similar to the Mexican enchiladas. Another strange thing is that they don't seem to refill drinks here. I had to order 2 servings of the tea since each time they only gave me about 3/4 cup of hot water with a bunch of tea bags. And the meals did not come with water. The only water available to drink was bottle water, which was more expensive than the beer. And it comes with gas (bubbles) or no gas. Strange.

After the dinner, we ordered some desserts. I had a homemade vanilla ice cream with fruit melon. My co-worker ordered the tiramisu. Overall, I think most of the resturants here are much more slow paced. It seems that nobody is in a hurry to give you a bill or check on you.

Thanks to the tea (no decaff choice), now I am wide awake, which is not good. Anyway, I will try to get more sleep since tomorrow I will have to start to work.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Head To Netherlands For One Week (Work!)

Can only do a quick post here. Wait to board the flight to Netherlands for one-week work trip. Will try to post some pictues once I get to there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Is Here

Finally, I am back to Milwaukee after spending a week in Cleveland for work training. I spent the whole Saturday on doing the laundry and grocery shopping.

Apparently, the fall is here. The maple tree in the front yard completely changes the color from green to gold/red in one week! I spent part of today on cleaning the garden and removing some dead annuals. Well, time to go back to work again tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Work In Cleveland, Ohio

Today is the 2nd day of my whole week training here in Cleveland, Ohio. Actually, it is more like the suburb of the Cleveland. I have not even got a chance to see the lake yet since the training schedule is just so tight. So far, I like the new company a lot. Just wish that I could some free time to get to see the downtown Cleveland next time.

My Seven Interests

OK. Here comes the first meme for me. i comment on coryblankjournal so he chose seven interests from my profile and I would have to explain what they mean and why I am interested in them.

Since I only listed 8 interests in my profile, Cory really did not have too many choices. Here are what coryblank chose for me:

1) baking
I was originally from Asia. From where I come, oven is a very rare thing. Only professional bakery has the oven. Almost everybody bought the bread/pastry at the bakery. So I was really excited to know that almost every house has an oven! And I got to learn how to bake!

2) cake decoration
Alright, this one actually is the extension from the baking. Back home, all the birthday cakes were decorated wonderfully but not so here. Only the expensive wedding cake has something decent. One day, I watched the food network Challenge cake decoration and it made me want to get to learn more about it.

3) running
I always like to run. It gives me a chance to enjoy the fresh air and forget all the troubles from work.

4) swimming
My dad was a Navy general. So, I guess you get thepicture. :)

5) volunteer work
I have been volunteered for American Red Cross for almost 7 years. It started as a way to know more poeple since I did not know anybody when I first came to Milwaukee. Besides, it feels great to get to help people and learn some medical skills.

6) weight lifting
Gym is another thing we did not have back home. When I went to the school down in Florida, I started to do the weight training with my professor, who used to play college football back to his college days. And I found that I really liked it and it did make me grow quite a lot of muscle mass!

7) wrestling
I have been practiced martial art since I was 7. My uncle serves in law enforcement and he would teach me all the judo/wrestling moves. I like the exercise and body contact of it.

Ok. Hope that I provide enough interesting info here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Month At The New Job

Time passes fast and today will be the end of my first month at the new job. Overall, I like this new job very much. Very friendly co-workers and working environment. The manager is very nice and appreciate my work. And I will be traveling some for work/training starting next week. Head to Cleveland, Ohio first. Then to the Netherland at the end of month.

The weather finally cools down here and the mums in the garden bloom like crazy now. Quite a beautiful scenes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

First Day In New Gym

Well, finally, I got to join a new gym after the 4-month off period due to the search of a new job. Since the new job started a couple of weeks ago and the new company did offer partial compensation of the cost for the gym membership, I have been looking for a new gym close to the work for a while.

I usually go to the gym during the lunch time and just skip the lunch. I drink some protein shake after the workout and it usually is enough for me until the supper time. Anyway, I found this new gym close to work about 1 week ago. It was just open around early 2006 so all equipments are still very nice and new. The staff is friendly as well. The most important thing is that it is not crowded during the lunch time so I can finish workout and take a shower all in one hour.

Today I went there during the lunch time to do my first workout. The guy who worked on the front desk there was nice enough to give me a 2-week trial membership. Hey, that saves me at least $40!

The workout was very good but I did not push too hard since it had been a while since my last weightlifting. I just took it slow. I should be back to full speed in about 3 to 4 weeks. Now, I really feel more energetic after the workout. Back to work!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Autumn Is Around The Corner

Yesterday was the moon festival so I ate too many moon cakes as usual. Since it is also called "mid-autumn" festival, it just means the autumn is around the corner. As you can see, the trees have started to lose the leaves or the leaves start to change color even though it is still pretty warm around 70F.

So far, it is quite an uneventful week. Will have to work late tonight the first time for this new job. Got to head down to a local hospital to do some experiments on the radiology department there.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moon Festival And Moon Cake

It is the time of Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival) again. It happens on the August 15th using the lunar calendar, in other words, it is usually about the end of September. It is also called the mid-fall festival since it usually happens in the fall. This year, the moon festival is on Sept. 25 (this coming Tuesday).

The Moon festival is one of the three most important Chinese holidays besides the Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival. It has been celebrated since early 1300 before the Ming dynasty. It is also the time of the family reunion and the traffic is usually getting very busy. There are lots of legendary stories about the Moon Festival. The most famous one is about a queen who stole and ate the eternal life medicine from her cruel king husband and flew into the moon.

Besides the family reunion, moon cakes are the star of the holiday. Every store and bakery will put out boxes and boxes of moon cakes for sell. There are so many different kinds of flavors and crusts of the moon cakes to choose nowadays that even the most experienced food critics will have a hard time to choose.

Usually, I don't really like the sweet stuffs. However, I always have a sweet tooth of all the different kinds of moon cakes. My favorite is the pineapple flavor. The second is the red bean paste flavor. My least favorite ones are the moon cakes with salty egg yolk inside the fillings. It is really dry and not healthy anyway.

I always mail order the moon cakes from the Shengkee bakery in California. It was originally founded in Taiwan in 1964 and then opened up multiple chain stores in California around 1980. They only ship the fresh made moon cakes around the Moon festival. This year, I order 3 boxes of the moon cakes the Shengkee bakery again: one box of pineapple flavor, two boxes of assorted flavors (lotus, red bean, dates, plum, tea, walnut). They taste the best with a cup of hot tea. And that will my breakfast for the next 2 weeks!