Burgundy sunflower

Burgundy sunflower
Crescent Moon Designs Henna Art

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Working on moving to a new platform

It has been a long time since I thought, wrote and made things in html.  A LONG time.  Back in the day when I was an admin support for the astronomy department at the University of Texas, webpages were new and I made one for the department, and then I made on for myself.... it was all straight html, and the language wasn't too different from LaTeX which I had to know in order to format papers for journals and NSF proposals.

But if you don't use it, you lose.  I used to read and write Chinese fluently, too.  Now I can barely figure out which is the appropriate restroom and whether something has chicken in it on a menu...
A classic poem by Li Bai

So, when I made the goal of shaking off the shackles of dependence on a web-building template and making my site from scratch so I can get all the strands of my cyber life under one site.... I underestimated how much I'd forgotten.  And how much things have changed since I last knew them...

I had hoped to launch the NEW! IMPROVED! INTEGRATED! site this week-end, but that hasn't happened.  My old Dreamweaver program was so corrupted, I had to upgrade and now I need a book to understand what's going on.... and the freeware that come with the new hosting package has a very high learning curve for customization... if I'm going to spend hours learning how to do something, I might as well learn Dreamweaver since it's more useful than another template-driven piece of freeware.

Oh, and life kind of got in the way of the blog as well.  I got a superb day job last week doing admin support for a local catering company and have been brain-logged from learning all the details of HALF the job, and then the cats complained that I wasn't spending enough time with them... so blog to the wayside for awhile.

I'll keep posting and when the new site is up and running, I'll create links so you can find your way to the new space.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A fabulous evening

Adelaid, one of the Shimmy Sisters, and myself
Every now and then I get to be a part of fabulous-ness, an event that transcend ordinary life and crosses to the realm of the fantastic.  On Wednesday evening, I joined henna artists, Anita Bhakta, Lernie Beuler, and Paula Broussard, along with the Shimmy Sisters and the band, Danyavaad for a corporate event in Orange County.  Little did I realize that I would be stepping into fabulousness. The event was set in a lush resort and had been meticulously organized and executed.  As soon as you stepped into the courtyard, you were transported into a world of oriental splendor.... tents inspired by the Mughal empire dotted the yard, bellydancers mingled among the crowd while the band played hypnotic grooves.
Anita waits for a guest in our fabulous tent
Music from Danyavaad filled the air with modern Mughal flair
The guests floated from one heated tent to the next, enjoying the food, the henna and the entertainment.  It was one of those magical evenings that makes me remember how blessed I am to be a henna artist and how much fun it can be sometimes.
The Shimmy Sisters, Adelaide and Leilania

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year's!

February 3 is the start of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit.  I love Chinese New Year's -- and as a rabbit, I'm especially happy.
Why does this yangguizi (Mandarin for foreign devil) love a Chinese holiday so much?  
  1. It's a great excuse to make and eat jiaozi --little filled pastries that are either boiled or pan-fried -- they are more commonly called wontons (which is the Cantonese word for them) and my Korean mother-in-law calls them mandoo.  Same concept, same deliciousness.
  2. I can put out all the decorations that I bought 3 years ago when I did henna at a Vietnamese Tet Festival in Balboa Park.  The banners and lanterns are so festive, it's a shame to hide them in the closet for years.
  3. I am not a fan of the timing of the Western New Year.  It arrives in the dead of winter, usually while I'm on a long airplane ride home from a trip back East to visit relatives.  I am feeling residual stress from Christmas, and stress about making a proper New Year's dinner, and then there's jet lag, etc. I just am in no shape to assess my life and make pertinent goals on January 1 (although I continue to try).
But Chinese New Year's follows the lunar calendar and arrives later in the year and on different days which gives it a sort of release from the rigidity of JANUARY 1.  (Also, it's late enough that if my holiday round-up letters haven't yet been mailed, I can mail them within the 15 days of the New Year celebration and feel no guilt. )

I find this is the perfect time for a new start.  I've had some time to mull over last year's successes and target some items for change.  More importantly, I have had a trial run at working on resolutions so I know which ones are going to stick and which ones aren't worth my energy.

I know goal-setting is not a part of the Chinese celebration: their focus is on family, sweeping out the old influences of the previous year, and feasting.  Nobody feasts like the Chinese!!  I am getting hungry now just remembering feasts of my college days in China....I may need to have some leftover jiaozi for lunch... but renewing my goals and refining them is what works for me, and the feasting part is pretty good, too.

Recipe for Jiaozi
1 cup ground pork
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3 TB sesame oil
1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Nappa cabbage
4 tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots (opt)
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Round wrappers found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near the egg roll wrappers.  Or you can use square pieces of dough called wonton wrappers -- that is the essential difference between jiaozi and hundun aka wontons -- the shape of the wrapper and the method of wrapping.
Here is a YouTube video for round wrappers -- notice the party atmosphere -- when I studied in China, I went to many parties where the focal point was making and eating jiaozi. And here is a YouTube video for folding square wontons.

Have a great New Year with much feasting and joy!