Fortune Cookie Future

(With a few minor changes, I am re-posting this story for new readers to enjoy.)

Fortune cookies are one of my secret weaknesses. I know it’s very non-Chinese of me because honestly, fortune cookies were never a genuine Chinese tradition–only in Chinese restaurants as a gracious way to present the bill. I hate it when these restaurants offer the obligatory fortune cookie to each person at the table. This means you only get one grab at a fortune. But when you get a bunch of tasty fortune cookies in your own bag, then your chances of getting a decent fortune increases tenfold.

You know, when you have one of those moments when you crave something less potent than dark Belgian chocolate and a lot more than healthy snacks? This is one of those snack attacks when chips and Cheetos just won’t do, but you definitely don’t want a rice cracker either. Well, when all else fails to entice, then it’s a bag of fortune cookies for me.

I had the fortune cookie craving the other day. I felt I needed some fuel for walking the hilly 4-mile route around my neighbourhood. Reading the fortunes always spurred me on as I snacked while tackling the hills. Besides, I could burn off 2000 calories, maybe even 3000, by the time I completed my route.

The first hill is a killer because my knees practically hits my chin as I make my way up the top, munching three fortune cookies during the climb. Before descending the other side, I read my fortunes. Number 1 said: Beware any obstacles. As far as I could see, I had two more hills before the route leveled out and got me home. Fortune number 2 said: Smile and the World smiles with you. Just knowing I had two more obstacles made me groan. Who could possibly smile? Fortune number 3 said: Your efforts will pay off.  Now, that one was a keeper. I wanted to look great in my new dress and by gosh, by golly, I will! Tucked this fortune in my pocket and chucked the others in the trash bin.

Downhill was a breeze—a fast pace downwards, a block of level ground and then the start of hill number 2. This one is a sneakier hill because it’s a gradual upgrade, then steep near the top and a slow drop down the other side. Because the route is longer here, I ate five more fortune cookies. Finally reaching the peak, I sorted through my fortunes and noted two were the same: Stop and smell the roses.  Not yet, not until I complete the last hill. The next fortune predicted:  Today, indulge your craving. Tomorrow arrives soon enough.  Whoa, was that some kind of dire warning? My last fortune said: The sky’s the limit ; reach high!  I liked that and tucked it in my pocket.  But wait—five cookies should have five fortunes. One of my cookies arrived empty, or did it? I didn’t think I had dropped a fortune and I sure as heck wasn’t going back to look.

Trudging down the gradual decline, I waited until I got to the final hill before I ate my way through the last four cookies. This was actually a medium hill with a medium incline and then a running decline. Finally, a block from home, I checked my slips of paper.  Laughter is the music of one’s soul.  Hmm-mm, that sounded nice. The next slip of paper said:  Fortune has a fickle heart and a short memory. Guess that meant my lottery ticket didn’t win—again. The final two fortunes were identical and whoever wrote these had a terrific sense of humour:  Fortune smiles at those who help themselves; but sometimes Fortune needs a good kick in the pants to recognize you.  Never mind that I had devoured a bag of fortune cookies. Of course Fortune was seeing the future thinner Me. That 4-mile walk had to have burnt off 3000 calories. Whoever said, “Never trust a fortune cookie” just didn’t know what they were eating–I mean, reading!

My Favorite East Bay Vegan Eats


Definitely makes me want to convert! If you want to see more of Jennifer’s posts, check out

Originally posted on Jennifer Chen:

Even though I live in the Mecca of vegan eatery, I still miss my favorite vegan eats in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. The thing I love about the East Bay is that there is so much pride in the food scene, like people genuinely are happy when you enjoy eating at their establishment.

If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area, you must try these places.

1. Donut Farm


No, seriously, that’s their case of fresh doughnuts. I’m not lying. Also, if you’re there when still have apple fritters, do yourself a favor and get one. Or five. And the breakfast burrito is a MUST.

2. Victory Burger


This is the Veggie Arepa, and it is delicious. What’s that shake? It’s just a chocolate peanut butter coconut ice cream milkshake. And those are fries are hand cut perfection. My friends also swear by the Veggie Burger, but I can…

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When Mars Meets Venus

This was a former Red Room comment posted January 2013  and reposted with a few minor changes. Thank goodness for Mars and Venus–their differences definitely makes for a more lively existence. . .

Men and women think differently. I didn’t just figure this out. I knew this fact when Hubby and I were dating. We went through a lot of stuff before we were married. I like to think of it as a test–sort of a compatibility test. Come to think of it, we’re still testing ourselves, even though we’ve now been married over 18 years. You know that book, “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus?  Well, that’s how Hubby and I approach problems and solve them. Amazingly, we usually arrive at the same conclusion, but one path is slightly more convoluted and I won’t say whose.

Hubby is a detail person. This translates as a man who looks the whole problem or project over and plans it to the last finishing touch: the materials needed, the tools to be used, and the space required . I’m a do-it-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of woman. I know what the job is and I know what the finished project should look like. It’s the getting from A to B that’s interesting. When a detailed person does a project with an interesting person, well, the working atmosphere becomes “emotionally charged.” That’s why Hubby and I–depending what the project is–wisely defers to either the detail person or the interesting person. So far, we have survived this solution.

The family car is another area that shows the gender difference. I love the Volvo station wagon because it gets me to wherever I need to be. It has sufficient room in the cargo bay to hold groceries, books and other paraphernalia. When we moved, it held a lot of our small furniture and household goods. Hubby loves the Volvo too, as he carefully vacuums the carpets, cleans the dust off the dash, washes and polishes, checks under the hood to make sure all the proper fluids are topped up, tire pressures are regularly checked. I think I’ve heard a pitiful whimper whenever the “Silver Bullet” returns from its errands with new battle scars:  a ding from some careless stranger’s car door; a scratch from someone’s runaway grocery cart; some high-flying bird deciding to drop his “big boomers” on the shiny roof of a moving target and the list goes on.

Years of experience has taught me a few things. The thin edge of the metal workshop ruler works as a great screwdriver when the butter knife doesn’t do the job. The small screwdriver with the flat thin tip can’t always pry open a tight lid. The handy-dandy hammer works on loose nails, but  doesn’t work on loose screws. I also learned that some men are very protective of their tools.

Shortly after I got married, I needed something to open a pickle jar. This jar’s lid refused the hot water treatment, the “knock” on the countertop; the rubber “grip” that never failed before and several other techniques that usually worked. This was a stubbornly stuck lid and required Step B, the drastic step. I needed to raid my Hubby’s toolbox and find the vise-like tool that would solve the problem. I was convinced of this. If this failed too, I could always bash the lid with the vise. Hubby arrived home just as I was trying to wrap the vise’s teeth around the lid. He grabbed his beloved tool, seized the rubber gloves by the sink, stuck his hands in the gloves, gripped the jar and twisted the lid. The lid popped, the jar was opened. That day, I learned Mars does not share everything with Venus and that included the workshop and the contents of the toolbox.

And let’s not forget the stereo system. I like listening to music on the car radio, the kitchen radio, on my computer and on the stereo. It’s magical how the music flows out of the speakers and sounds wonderful. I like to switch it on, adjust the volume and dance. Simple. To a stereophile male, yes the stereo does all these things, but to get there, the speakers should not have knick-knacks sitting on top of it. The amplifiers are delicately adjusted so the various instruments are clearly distinguished. The speakers are carefully positioned so the sound is evenly distributed and aimed to the proper corners of the room. So far, our negotiable truce is holding. Hubby gets to fiddle and twiddle all the knobs and switches so he can sit back and enjoy the music. I get to turn the stereo on, let the music fill my heart and soul–then, dance.

Yes, some Men can be from Mars and some Women may come from Venus, but Life can be so dull if we all thought the same and behaved the same. Excuse me, I just noticed a loose nail poking out of the floorboard and my shoe didn’t work. I’ll have to resort to Plan B. . .

Grab on, Hold on Tight

I’ve always felt that Life has much to offer in our lifetime–but you have to grab onto its coat-tails and hold on tight for a journey unique to each of us.

Some people are sloths and content to amble along, happy with what they have– with no ambitions to do better. Others are born with a gleam in their eyes, adventure in their hearts and awesome energy that takes them to places beyond our imaginations. These people are visionaries who were born knowing there was something else out there, beckoning them onwards.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle–we know what we want; work hard to reach our goals with a sigh of content and keep a bucket-list of what we dream of doing, one day in the near future. After all, hope and dreams are what spurs us onwards.

But the one undeniable fact is that we have to grab Life and ride its wild, boisterous, joyful, turbulent and noisy moments to arrive where we want to be and seize what we want. There will be thoughtful, contemplative moments–yes, even sad ones–that allows us to slow down and check that we are on the right path. After all, Life can become complicated, difficult and slippery–causing us to doubt if we are truly doing the right thing.

There is no manual to check or map to follow when we grab onto Life’s coat-tails. Each of us forges our own unique tracks. We have to recognize those opportunities occasionally falling in our path, knowing what to do and where to go with them. Most of all, you have to know when to let go of those coat-tails and make it on your own. We know we can reach our other goals because we have gained the confidence, the experience and the skills of a lifetime.

What an extraordinary feeling–to sit back and know we are in the right place at the right time, finally enjoying our bucket-list of dreams. What are you waiting for? Grab on and hold on tight. . .


I think we all feel passionate about something or other–eventually, our routine lives gain some hobbies for those leisure times  we do get from time to time. If we’re lucky in our choice of a hobby or two, this fascination may develop to the next remarkable level, a passion. I have friends who are excited talking about their passions–stamp collections, coin collections, recent golf or tennis games, hiking and exploring, mountain climbing and the list goes on.

I went through a number of hobbies while finding myself and working. Once I thought being a guitarist was the “coolest” thing on earth, so I spent some money on a steel-string guitar and a year on lessons. Other than a lot of callouses on my fingers and bored with playing chords–I wanted to zip along to the melodies–I gave it another try by switching to classical guitar with nylon strings that were a lot easier on the fingers. Instead of playing country-western, I now embarked on my version of Jose Feliciano, which was not a pretty sound on my guitar. After another year of lessons, I concluded that I would never be a guitarist, whether I played chords or melody. The guitar went to a friend who coaxed such beautiful music from the strings that I knew my guitar had found its new home. So I took a course on “Fermented Drinks Around the World,” despite the fact I couldn’t sample any alcohol without turning beet-red on one sip. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture parts and filled with enthusiasm, signed up for another course on “Wine-Making at Home.” All of these interests never became a passion but it sure made stimulating dinner conversations.  By this time, my physical side made its appearance and I then embarked on a  series of appealing forms of exercise: Line-Dancing, Zumba, Burlesque-Fit, Tennis, Golf and even good old-fashion gym workouts. None became a “passion.”

Throughout my search, I kept taking various writing courses and enjoyed all of them. But, there came that “Eureka” moment, when I just knew that I had to grab that pen to see if I could truly write,  I did–and this is my passion–to entertain for a few brief moments; to see if I can grab your attention and set you to thinking or smiling or nodding your head. After all, anyone can write, but how many of us can capture your attention for a few minutes and get a reaction?

Well Dressed

Originally posted on From the Laundry Room:

Joan Rivers has died.

I wasn’t really a fan of her comedy, but her story is remarkable.  She graduated top of her class at Barnard and made a name for herself in a male dominated industry.  She was a trailblazer, a strong woman.  I admire that.

Death is so weird.  I remember when my grandmother died I was amazed that the next day everything was still moving, still living.  She was gone and yet life moved on.  I had to go to school, there was traffic, people were still making plans without Nanny.

My oldest has experienced her share of death at pretty impressionable ages, so we have this game.  When someone’s passing is too much to take, when the sadness of the loss hurts to the bone, we send them to “the island.”

She lost her orthodontist, a wonderfully warm man, before she even had her braces taken off.  She was confused and…

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Coffee, Anyone?

I love my cup of coffee, especially first thing in the morning. But then, who doesn’t?  I think I would rank coffee right up there with dark chocolate, but to be honest, if I had to choose between my Hubby and that cup of coffee, without any hesitation I would choose my Hubby as he makes the best coffee in our house. I can always get dark chocolate later.

I like meeting friends or family over a cup of caffeine–they may choose tea or something stronger, but I prefer my caffeine-fix. I’m not a coffee-addict as I do drink other things depending on my mood and where I am at that particular time of day. I like my Tim Horton’s “Iced Cappuccino” as Timmy’s makes the best “Iced Cap” or I may go to Jugo Juice for a fruit smoothie, but eventually I’ll return for my “cuppa Joe.” Hey, nothing beats the real deal and if you like  coffee, then go for it.

Naturally if you have a cup of coffee, then it makes sense to enjoy a snack or pastry with it. And in Victoria, there is such a plethora of coffee houses that carries fabulously decadent desserts along with its trays of healthy muffins, that it would be an absolute crime to by-pass a “goodie”–buttery croissants, triple-fudge pecan brownies, cinnamon swirl brioches, orange-almond Danishes, blueberry or apple streusel or lemon poppy-seed coffeecakes, thick cranberry-walnut cookies as big as the palm of a logger’s hand and so much more.

I like trying coffee at different places–some are excellent while others are merely okay. I’ve noticed that some businesses now offer the new Keurig method of choosing your own “pod” and brewing your own individual cup. It’s nice and quick but I still like the old-fashion way of measuring the right amount of freshly ground coffee and brewing up a pot–a pot of coffee to share with family and friends. Anyone for coffee?