Category Archives: Uncategorized

Walkathon, another “OMG I was so drunk and…” story

“I am so hung over!” (image credit:

Somehow, exchanging drunk anecdotes proves to be devastatingly fun. Not only do we find solidarity in shared misery (oh yes, those hangovers), we relish outdoing our friends. The crazier, the more ridiculous the “oh-I-was-so-drunk” feat is, the better.

Let’s see, among my friends, one fell flat on her face running down Market Street in San Francisco, and another mistook a police car for a taxi. But nothing nowadays beats the late-1800s, where competitive walking was the craze. In fact, competitors walked — buzzed on Champagne  Continue reading

Before cuddle app, there was cuddle party facilitator

Post written by Sherry Hsieh, originally published via Stress-Free NYC 

Cuddle Party? For most of us who have never attended a cuddle party, it sounds like group orgy. But it is not.Jamie Garde, a 61-year-old certified Cuddle Party facilitator, defines it as a social event where adults gather to exchange non-sexual touch. Clothes are kept on at all times.

Image Credit:

Research shows that touch – a hug, high-five or massage – can reduce pain, lower blood pressure, alleviate depression and increase oxytocins[1]. Getting touched or doing the touching makes us happier and less stressed. A native New Yorker and the oldest of five children, Garde grew up with parents who were not affectionate and she never received many hugs. In 2005, she attended her first cuddle party and enjoyed it so much that she became a facilitator after she got separated from her husband of 16 years in 2007. Since then, she has hosted seven to eight cuddle parties a year.

Plump and rosy, the 5-feet-tall Garde stresses that Cuddle Party is about effective communication. Her blue eyes dances as she lists cuddling positions: the massage train, puppy pile and rack of spoons (spooning in one direction then another). Her favorite is a long gentle stroke with a flat hand.

Are you ready for a good cuddle? Continue reading

‘Technically, it’s pruning,’ herb mistakes to avoid

It is my conviction that herbs grow better if I keep eating the leaves. You see, if my newly transplanted herbs (lavender, Moroccan mint, lemon verbena, basil… +3 more) are under the impression that they are besieged, they will respond by producing more leaves. Win win, capsize (cah-peesh)?

I call this “standing vigilant” — because I care about preparing my plants for the real world.

My sister, on the other hand, said that if she were my herbs, she would revolt by refusing to sprout new leaves. Not quite to the degree of the French Revolution where my herbs will demand “Off with Her head,” but it got me thinking… is there scientific proof behind my theory?

How to dry your herbs (image credit:

Yes! In fact, my method is (technically) called pruning.

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One day, I’ll be an old lady with ‘plants’

While others opted for companionships of animal-pets, I’ve opted for plants, specifically herbs. Not only are herbs easy to take care (no walking or picking up excrement needed) and fuss-free (water every other day), they also provide instant rewards — you can cook, brew tea and even make flavored syrup with them.

In terms of investment and return, they are worth the bucks. Kids on the other hand, call for 20+years of nurturing, and even after college (hefty tuition), they may still loiter around the house (see New York Times “Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave“).

But herbs, oh my goodness, I can’t sing enough of their praises. Consider your options: thyme, sage, basil, lavender… and within each category there are more than one variety. Take mint for example, within the group there are more than 20 species.

Starting an indoor herb garden (image credit:

Peppermint, spearmint, orange mint, lemon mint (lemon verbena, lemon balm), etc. They are an wonderful addition to tea, simply soak a few leaves in hot water. In fact, I’ve taken to keeping a pot of peppermint next to my work desk. Whenever I feel tired,  I’d pick a few leaves, chew and wait for the refreshing menthol taste to break.

And here are a few facts you may not have known about  herbs: Continue reading

(more-dog-for-thought) Three Girls in an Apartment

It struck me, when I was writing about dogs attending church (see Blessing of the Animals), that girls SHED hair like crazy. The two thoughts — dogs and girls — do not share any direct correlation (except shedding), but bear with me.

Now, as the person who mops, sweeps and vacuums her entire apartment (bathroom, kitchen, hallway), I see hair strands everywhere. It baffles me, How come there’s hair again? I just mopped ten minutes ago?


According to, an average person loses between 80 and 100 hair strands per day.

Furthermore, humans have roughly 1.6 trillion skin cells[1], and between 30,000 and 40,000 of them fall off every hour[2]. In one year, a person will shed more than 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of dead skin. That’s a lot of hair and dead skin cells to clean!

As for dogs that shed like crazy, the list includes: American Eskimo, Corgi, Dalmatian, Great Pyrenees, Labrador Retriever, Pekingese, Pug, Shetland Sheepdog and Siberian Husky.

[1] “Organs – Skin.” BBC. May 28, 2010.

[2] Reucroft, Stephen & Swain, John. “Does the dust in my house really include my own skin?” Boston Globe. May 27, 2010.

It’s Fall, and I want… homemade tofu

Fall is my ultimate favorite season. With its arrival comes brisk weather and rich, vivid shades of red, orange and yellow. I love to inhale deeply the cold crisp air and feel it fill up my lungs, giving me a surprised shudder. To be shocked by the coldness! How alive one feels!

The season also invokes fond memory of places traveled, specifically Beijing and Seoul. When I studied in Beijing, I bought a lovely scarf that reminded me of Fall — carmine, deep orange-red).  It matched the color of Forbidden City. As for Seoul, Fall is forever linked with the unbelievable fall foliage witnessed at Seoraksan.

Fall calls for homemade tofu at Aburiya Kinnosuke

Fall calls for homemade tofu at Aburiya Kinnosuke

The season, closely linked with harvest, calls for a feast. But instead of hearty meals, I crave something fresh, something simple…

Homemade tofu! Aburiya Kinnosuke, a mid-town Japanese restaurant, serves their tofu cold or hot. Cold tofu comes with three types of salt: ponzu, truffle and wasabi.

The tofu, firm, smooth, and clean-tasting, provides the perfect blank canvas for salt sampling. Ponzu salt, the least intrusive of the three, calls to mind sweet-sour plum powder. Both truffle and wasabi salt are full in flavor, the former fills your palate, nostril with nutty truffle fragrance whereas the latter offers a sharp kick.

Click HERE for Yelp

When it rains… go inside and talk to strangers

One should never trust the weather report, it is only 80% correct most of the time.

Unfortunately, this time the weather report got it right and It rained. Not a light drizzle, not rain, but thunderstorm (yes, equipped with thunder and lightening). I was flabbergasted. How could the weather do this to me? Especially after I bought new rain boots and everything. Shouldn’t it rained on days when I am fully-equipped in my rain gears? Simply outrageous!

Anyway, back to my story.

I tried walking briskly, hoping that I could make it home before the rain came down hard.

It didn’t work, the rain was quicker than me. Clutching my computer bag close to my chest, I ran to the only shelter in sight — an iHop. There, I shuffled myself among equally unfortunate and miserable (yes, melodrama!) souls who also forgot their umbrellas.

Rain gushed forth with unrelenting force, oh boy, I thought, I am going to be here for awhile. Eager for someone to talk to, I looked around, hoping to catch someone’s eyes. The moment our eyes met (anyone really), I planned,  I will smile and talk about the weather, the crazy storm.

No one looked at me. The only response I got was an old Indian gentleman who kind of returned my smile.

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Taking a Bite of the Big Apple

New York and I, we are ready to fall in love! Or rather, I am ready to take a BITE of the Big Apple.

in NYC

Few cities have inspired as many dreamers to pursue their dreams, and even fewer have received as much great writing dedicated to them. New York City is definitely unique in that aspect. Nonetheless, I did not, however, immediately fall head-over-heels for the city. In fact, I had started off not liking the city. 

New York is not a city that will hand anything to you easy, you have to fight and prove that you are worthy of what it has to offer. When I was looking for my apartment, I was literally utilizing all known resources — brokers, craigslist, facebook, websites (read more about apartment-hunting tips HERE). It was crazy. I am so thankful that I have settled in and am ready for new challenges.

E. B. White, renowned American writer and reporter, writes in his 1948 essay “Here is New York,” that there are three New Yorks.

There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something ….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. 

The natives, the commuters, and the settlers. I am of the last group. Thank you E. B. White, you have inspired me!

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