happy year of the monkey!

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Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the start of the year of the monkey – woot! And … I’ve moved back to New York! Surprise!

As you can imagine, Chinese New Year is a big deal. China is currently on a week-long holiday with many businesses closed, large cities nearly emptied as people are in their hometowns, and practically every surface decked out with red knots, lanterns, and ribbons. But here? It’s pretty much business as usual. Last night people were far, far more concerned with the Super Bowl! And I had sushi for dinner.

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happy year of the sheep/goat/ram!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Tomorrow is the first day of the Chinese New Year, the year of the 羊 yáng … which translates to sheep, goat, and/or ram. So yeah, that doesn’t make things confusing whatsoever.

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And just like on New Year’s Eve of the Western/Gregorian calendar, I am sitting at the Pudong Airport waiting for a flight. But this time it’s domestic and the flight will probably be on time. Woot!

Hope you have a prosperous year of the sheep/goat/ram!

new year, visiting an old project

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

It is now 2013! 2012 proved to be very lackluster in terms of me posting on this blog, but we’ll see what the new year brings. Since it’s the holidays, I’m back at home, and once again forced to go through my old stuff from architecture school and weed out the weak (in other words: clear out all my junk at the strongly-worded request of my mother).

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In one bag I found a bunch of rectangular pieces of laser cut matboard, and I realized that they were extra pieces from a model I built in 2008. It was for a construction class, and the project was to build a partial model of a building facade, so the rectangular pieces were the exterior cladding elements. Why I kept them for almost five years … I have no idea.

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I also found little packages of some of the smaller construction elements, all laser cut from white matboard as well. And looking at some of those beams … goodness gracious I can’t believe I spent so much time gluing those little pieces! And they didn’t even get used! I definitely laser cut way too many. Either I was really wasteful, really worried that I’d mess up, or just really bad at planning.

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The building my partner and I chose was the Ricola Storage Buiding (1987) in Laufen, Switzerland, by Herzog and de Meuron. This is a detail of the completed model, which only exists in pictures since it was thrown into the trash shortly after completion due to lack of space. Well, now its spare parts are in the trash as well. Sadness. But hey, it’s 2013!

tutorial: frito pie

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I’m going to start up again with a fun one.

Is it really necessary to have a tutorial for Frito pies? Most would say no, unless you’re not from Texas, at which point, yes, you do need a tutorial. In New York, people look at you with eyebrows raised and an expression somewhere between disgust, horror, and confusion if you mention a Frito pie. They usually have the same expression after I explain what a Frito pie is. But they’re really yummy! It’s a staple dish!

So here we go. There are three main ingredients: Frito chips, chili (preferably with no beans … but whatever floats your boat), and shredded cheese (I usually go with plain ol’ cheddar).

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1. Get yourself a bowl. Really any bowl will do as long as it’s big enough for all the yummy goodness that is to come.

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2. Open the bag of Fritos. Pour some of those corn chips into bowl. Oh, and as a side note: If you’re in Texas, enjoy the low price and ease of obtaining Fritos, because there’s only one grocery store in my area that carries them and a bag cost me $3.50!

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3. Open the can of chili, heat it up on the stove, and pour some of it over the Fritos. Well, I suppose you should have had the chili on the stove before you even got out the bowl … but stop criticizing me! I usually go with Hormel’s no beans chili because (being from Texas) beans do not belong in chili and there’s no Wolf brand chili up here and I’ve never been good at making my own chili.

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4. Open the bag of shredded cheese. Grab a handful of it and sprinkle it oh so gingerly over the chili-covered Fritos.

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5. Get yourself a fork. Plunge that fork into the concoction, stir it up a bit, and use that fork to stuff your face with Frito pie.

It’s not really healthy, and I make no recommendations in regards to feeding it regularly to children. Everything in moderation. I merely say that it’s yummy, it’s easy, and it’s cheap (except in certain states like New York where cans of chili and bags of Fritos and bowls, shredded cheese, forks, and life cost more than they should). It’s one of those foods that just makes you happy. Maybe it’s because I grew up eating Frito pies so it’s kind of a nostalgic thing, but anyway, I really like ’em.

The end! I hope you’ve been enlightened.

circles + circles + circles = overkill

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

Even though it’s technically still spring, it feels like summer. I’m down in Texas for the time being, and whew it’s humid! In the spirit of spring cleaning I went through some of my old architecture stuff … and I can’t believe I actually kept some of this stuff. After living in a fairly small Manhattan apartment, I’m beginning to see how useless this extra stuff is.

About three years ago I was in an experimental organic architecture studio, where what we ended up creating were less like buildings and more like art pieces. It was fairly complicated, but basically I extrapolated dimensions from Georgia O’Keefe’s “Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. V” painting and for part of the project, I laser cut A LOT OF CIRCLES based on the relationships between those measurements, with the largest circles about 3 inches in diameter. Yeah, it was weird. I used some of the circles, but ended up with a ton of extras. Most were laser cut from cheap 2-ply chipboard.

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There were also a ton of circles laser cut out of 1/16-inch basswood sheets. And even more cut out of 2-ply white matboard. Um … I think I got a little crazy with the laser cutter, but it’s an awesome piece of machinery! At my graduate school, students aren’t allowed to operate the laser cutter themselves, but back at my undergraduate school, it was free reign (after paying and scheduling the time, of course)! Sigh … I miss the smell of burnt chipboard/basswood/matboard.

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I didn’t use any of the matboard because the charring was too severe so the circles didn’t turn out as nice and white as I was hoping, but oh well. Good times. Good memories. One of these days I’ll have to post the completed projects, which I was pretty proud of. But after three years, I think I can let go of the 200+ circles. Off to the trash they go!

ionic blooms

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

I haven’t posted in a good long while. Ugh, who knew graduate school could entail so much work? Well, here’s a drawing I did a good long while ago.

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According to my sketchbook, I drew this June 10, 2010. I remember drawing it on the plane ride from the US to China and some of the Chinese people nearby were watching me do all these drawings and kept asking me about what I was drawing. My Chinese was pretty lacking at the time so the only way I could explain it was to say “flowers” but I don’t think they quite understood. Ha. The plane ride itself was pretty horrible (middle seat for a REALLY long flight) so I was really glad to be able to talk to someone to break up the boredom.

Eventually I’ll get around to turning it into an Illustrator file, but right now I just don’t have that kind of time. Sigh. Off to do more homework now.

chicken nuggets for dinner

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

I generally don’t eat the healthiest. Actually, I eat quite horribly if you’re talking nutrition. I generally like things that are yummy, greasy, sugary, artery-clogging. The good thing is that I don’t eat out much and I rarely eat fast food. It’s just that it’s such a hassle to cook. But … since I was procrastinating, I decided to make dinner. So I made myself chicken nuggets! Yum.

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I chopped up some chicken breast into pieces that were about 1/2 inch thick. Dipped them in egg and covered them with a mixture of breadcrumbs (from rosemary-potato bread), parmesan cheese, and potato flakes. Fried in oil and voila. Not the prettiest, but whatever, it’s just me eating them. Yay!

making pork meatballs

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

I’ve never pretended to be a good cook, and I’m not much for experimenting. But I had some ground pork in my freezer that I wanted to use, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. To be honest, I’m not sure why I even bought it. I was in Chinatown and the meat is just so much cheaper down there than up here, I felt compelled to buy some. Yeah … I impulse-bought pork.

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Anyway, I made pork meatballs out of it. It was actually kind of fun to make them. I wasn’t really sure what went into meatballs, but how hard could they be? They’re basically just balls of meat, right? Well, a quick search of AllRecipes led me to a myriad of different recipes, so I decided to just wing it. When I made bread the last time (it was a rosemary-potato bread), I turned part of the loaf into breadcrumbs. I mixed some of those breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then I was going to add an egg … but I forgot. I squished all of that with the ground pork and formed meatballs. Yay!

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Then I wasn’t sure whether to fry or bake them. Online it seemed like either way would work, so I decided to just fry them in some olive oil because I didn’t want to turn on the oven just for a few meatballs. They fried up pretty nice, but it probably would’ve been better if I’d made them smaller. I cooked up some penne, simmered up some marinara (with the meatballs), and voila. The meatballs were a bit dry, probably since I didn’t add any egg and I cooked them too long because I was worried about them still being pink inside. Anyhow, it was a learning experience.

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happy thanksgiving!

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

Happy Thanksgiving! Yum yum, turkey time! I’m actually at a friend’s house in Connecticut, and I’m going to experience my first ever truly American Thanksgiving. Excitingness. Sure I’ve had the turkey and the mashed potatoes before, but in a Chinese household … Thanksgiving isn’t very traditional … and sometimes includes duck instead of turkey. Heh.

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I hope everyone has a good holiday! Don’t eat too too much! And try not to get trampled tomorrow, okay?

really non-mexican tacos

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

I’ve been fairly busy lately (and still sick) so I haven’t been very crafty and I haven’t been making much food either. For instance, my lunch today consisted of crackers and juice. But I actually put a bit of effort into tonight’s dinner! I basically survived college by eating everything in a tortilla since I can’t really cook. Usually my meals involve simple reheating, a box, or a can. Eh.

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I made myself some soft tacos with chicken sausage, mashed potatoes, corn, and shredded mozzarella. They were delicious. My roomies think I’m weird and I’m sure other people out there are wrinkling their noses at me, but hey – I never said I was normal!

If you’re thinking: Where are the fruits and veggies? Well, the honest answer is that there are none. Nutrition-wise, I’m horrible. Not a big fan of healthy things. By no means am I suggesting that this would be a well-rounded meal for someone (unless you had a side of veggies). As one of my roommates put it, for me, the food pyramid is more of an hourglass shape, heavy on the carbs and sugar and sparse on everything else. I should probably get my cholesterol tested.