Friday, February 29, 2008

Beautiful Spring Day In Florida

What a beautiful day! Blue sky, in 60's, breeze. Great weather. No wonder all college students come down here for the spring break. I have been here for almost a week now. And today will be my 12th straight work days. I worked 16 hours yesterday and I was pooped. So I decide to stay in hotel and just work at my room today.

And it proves to be a not-so-easy task since I have to constantly fight the desire to go outside instead of focusing on my work. Aw, well, I still have to work tomorrow (Saturday). Hope that I at least can get the Sunday off. This intense work trip has started to stress me out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Work in Gainesville, Florida

I have been here for 3 days now and need to work today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday) from 8am-6pm. I definitely need a break next weekend since I will be working 14 days straight. Very warm (87'F) and humid down here. I almost forgot how it was in the spring here. I went to school here several years ago and there are lots of new roads, buildings, and restaurants since then. Well, at least, I don't have to complain about snow and ice here. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Detroit Airport

I am on my way down to Florida for work in the next several weeks. Just stop by the NWA world club between the flight. Quite nice place for an airline lounge.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I had a great Valentine's Day since I took yesterday off to enjoy it. I made this super moisture chocolate cake for Valentine's Day. Devil's food cake mix, sour cream, chocolate instant pudding mix, and chopped semi-sweet chocolate made the cake itself. The frosting and the filling are the ganache made of melting semi-sweet chocolate and frozen whipped cream. With some chopped walnuts and hand-made chocolate heart and text on the top. Yum!

Of course, I am very happy to receive these beautiful roses as well! Hope that everybody had a good Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Happy 39 birthay to Michael at "Are you sure you want to know"! Happy birthday, Michael!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year!

It is Chinese new year today! And this year is the Rat Year. Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality. Legend also has that originally both cat and rat were carried by the ox to cross the river in order to meet Buddha. In the middle of the river, the rat pushed the cat into the river. The ox did not notice what happened and just carried the rat cross the river. Once they crossed the river, rat ran off the back of the ox and became the first animal chosen in the 12 animal year. And ox became the second one. The poor cat could not swim and almost drowned. Once it struggled to the other side of the river bank and got to meet Buddha, all 12 spots had already been taken. From that day, cats don't like the water and they hate rats/mouse so much and want to eat them. Those born in rat years tend to be leaders, pioneers, and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. If you were born in 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, this is your ratty year!

Back home, people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. My favorite thing during my childhood was to receive "lucky money" in red envelopes. Since we did not have Christmas gifts, the "lucky money" was the biggest thing for kids for the whole year. And Chinese new year was the only time that we could eat all the candies and food we wanted. And there are the firecrackers. Every household sets off the firecrackers on the New year Eve midnight. It is rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. None of those really happen here and this year we have to shuffle all the 14" snow to celebrate the Chinese new year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chinese New Year Cakes

It is the worst snow storm in the recent 20 years in this region today. Well, I basically just work from home today. Since it is Chinese new year tomorrow (Feb 7, 2008), I start to make some special cakes for the Chinese new year. The first one is "Fa"-cake. It is more like the Chinese version of cupcake. Or we should call it "bowlcake" since the cake mixture is put in the bowl and steamed until it is done. Fa-cake is made of rice flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Steam the mix until they are solid. It is very important to have the beautiful cracks on the top of the cake since it means that the career/finance of the family members will be going up in this coming new year.

Year cake is the other important cake for the Chinese new year. My family always makes the red bean year cake. It is made of red bean, gluten rice flour, sugar and brown sugar. Steam it until it is done. Then let it dry for several days. The smooth look of the cake means that everything will go smoothly in the upcoming year. And the sweet taste of the cake means everything will go well in this coming year.

Once the year cake is dry, we put the sliced year cake in the egg and flour/water mixer to get a layer of the mixture outside. Then, we deep fry the cake until golden brown outside and soft inside. Yum! The snow is till coming down after I finish making the Chinese new year cakes and it will not stop for another 2 hours based on the weather forecast on TV. We have almost 14" so far and all the roads and highway are just a mess. And the gusty 30-45 miles of wind causes the bad drifting. Most of the business are closed and even the city bus has stopped the service. The Milwaukee airport is closed and several hundreds of passengers are stranded there tonight. In addition, the snow storm also hit the south central China recently. It will be a snowy Chinese new year this year for sure.

Another Big Snow Storm

Another big snow storm hits the southeast Wisconsin again. It will dump around 1 foot to 14" of snow within 24 hours on the top of all the messy snow on the ground. All the local schools/public services are closed today. I will also work from home today. This is one of the record bad nasty winters ever in this area. Enough snow already!