What’s for Dinner?

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Latimer: I’ve said this before (a lot!!), but honestly one of the best things about going to a different country is getting to eat their food! And I’m the sort of person who takes photos of the food they eat and Instagrams them – hence this post is photo heavy!

I love Asia food but I wouldn’t have ever said I particularly liked Chinese food. As with most countries, we have Chinese takeaways in Ireland and they’re fine. But having been in China, I don’t think they are making proper Chinese food (I think it’s Westernized to suit our palettes). But, I wish they weren’t, because as it turns out, proper Chinese food is so freckin’ good!

I was asked a lot about the food when I came home – people would grimace, ‘what did you eat?!’ Well, okay, to be honest in Chinese food, they use everything and the food is always fresh (i.e. the fish is alive in the tank then cooked and put on your plate). It’s harsh to look at, but you have to respect that Chinese people know where their food is coming from; we eat the steak and the pork and we don’t think about how it got there.

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Weighing the fish

And here the fish is cooked moments later (it's called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)

And here the fish is cooked moments later (it’s called Beer Fish a dish from Yangshuo)

And they have some amazing food markets! The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an was one pretty cool food spot…

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Muslim Quarter Xi’an

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The yellow stuff is rice cake

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They are making this sticky bar type stuff from peanuts and honey… beating the crap out of it with mallets!

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A prune, fungus drink… wasn’t nice! 😦

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Roasted walnuts

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Kitchen in the Muslim Quarter

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A kitchen in the Muslim Quarter

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Making fried wraps

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Yummy fried wraps

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Squid on a stick!

From hotpots to noodles, to taro chips… I ate well in China!

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Meet in a bun… sooo good… and spicy cauliflower

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Noodles in Xi’an (they’re known for their noodles – this was the only time I had noodles actually! wow)

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Spicy beef

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Yummy spicy cabbage

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Sweet and sour fish in Beijing

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Dumplings in Xi’an

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Some seriously spicy hotpot in Chengdu (they have the best hotpots apparently!)

Do you see the brains? Yup... I did not try that! ah... ha... nooo...

Do you see the brains? Yup… I did not try that! ah… ha… nooo…

Spicy potato... Love me some spuds!

Spicy potato… Love me some spuds!

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We stopped off at a local woman’s house for lunch in Yangshuo. This green stuff (a type of lettuce I think?!) was soooo tasty… I could have ate the whole plate!

These were homegrown in the above woman's garden... yummy!

These were homegrown in the above woman’s garden… yummy!

Taro chips.... They could give potatoes a run for their money!!

Taro chips…. They could give potatoes a run for their money!!

I went to a cooking class and this was my end result.... not too bad?!

I went to a cooking class and this was my end result…. not too bad?!

If you ever go to China know that you are going to eat well!

And to round things off you’ll find some nice drinks too!!

This beers quite nice... and bloody massive - I could hardly hold it for this photo!

This beers quite nice… and bloody massive – I could hardly hold it for this photo!

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Strawberry soda

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coffee art… how can you drink it now!!

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More coffee art… so cute!!

 

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My, My Little Ponies

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Latimer: I think my first real obsession was with My Little Pony. I adored them.

Recently, My Little Ponies have made an amazing comeback in the form of a cartoon; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

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There was a cartoon in the 90’s too, that I used to watch. There were a few different ones. The one I remember most is the My Little Pony Tales, which is possibly what the new cartoon is based on?

Seriously though… how are those Ponies grabbing anything! They have no fingers!

The return of the Ponies is a complete shock to me, because they disappeared years ago without a trace. They were popular in the early 90’s, and then they just vanished – cartoons and toys.

When the toys came back, very briefly, I bought them, but I was getting older and I couldn’t squeeze myself back into the fangirl suit I used to own. But I tried… lord I tried.

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I tried but couldn’t love them again!

They didn’t stay around long.

I’m going to hit the nostalgia button now and bring you back to my My Little Ponies…

Yeah, I still have them. It’s because of all my old toys, these meant the most. I couldn’t toss them out or give them away. 

Taking them out of the bag was weird because I remember actually getting a lot of them. My birthdays always involved getting a My Little Pony.

They are chunky, clunky beasts, but they have this beautiful old familiar weight to them. The more I took out the more I remembered.

The bride Pony (with a cake, her veil is missing but I remember she had one, I think I gave it to Barbie) – with no bridegroom!

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Poor girl, you have no one to marry!!

The ballerina young Ponies. They were novel because you could move their legs. We were very impressed at the time!

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I had two teacher Ponies (Pony groups came in sets of 4 generally). I still have their school bags and their combs (all Pony groups had specific combs).

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The Beach Ponies where my very first set. I remembered that their hair was all matted and could never be brushed out, because of the carpets we used to have in my old playroom in the garage (I used to drag them over the carpet).

Memories!

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I got this beauty Pony after being in hospital for an operation during Halloween one year.

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This Pony smelt like sweets (that was her ‘thing’) – and she still does.

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These were tiny baby Ponies, so cute (they have massive heads and are weirdly-distorted).

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This is a funny one – maternity Pony. You flick the heart…

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and her babies drop out.

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Yup…

This baby Pony was an interesting one; not because it did anything, but because of what my sister used to say it could do.

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The Pony came with a baby’s plate. My sister would put crackers and coffee grains in the little sections, then she’d tell me;

“I can get your Pony to eat these.”

I was wide-eyed, “Really?”

She’d nod; “But you have to wait outside.”

So out I went (happy, believing) and I’d come back in and the food was gone – except the coffee grains.

“The Pony didn’t like them.”

I was astounded at the time. I wondered why I couldn’t make my Pony eat like my sister could.

The way I packed away the Ponies was also kind of sweet. I packed up all the combs in little bags and the accessories in another. It was like I fully expected to play with them again someday.

I vividly remember thinking, “What do grown-ups do without toys? What do they do all day?” Thankfully you realize people never grow up and toys of childhood morph into those of adulthood and it’s a relief.

I’m happy to see my old obsession has reinvented itself and flown off to another generation 🙂

Paper art

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Ridley: Sometimes the simple things are the most beautiful.

When you think of art, what comes to mind?

It’s nearly always complicated oil paintings, detailed watercolours and delicate sculptures that you think of, isn’t it? You never think of paper being the only tool you need to create beautiful works.

So when we came across the Origami Paper Art museum, we were very impressed!

While the material is simple, these art pieces are far from it!

Now this lovely find was in Tokyo airport. We were there last May and I know it seems a bit late to be posting this, but I keep looking at the pictures. They’re simply amazing. I feel a bit selfish not sharing them!

 

All of this is paper!

I laughed any time I saw a dragon in Tokyo as Godzilla always came to mind. When I was younger, we used to watch the old Godzilla movies. They were so funny, most of the time you can see the wires on the flying creatures.

Who says airports are boring? (Me…I always did! Well apart from the random bits of duty free shopping.)

Here’s a link to a blog entry that I came across with numerous different types of paper art, they are all absolutely extraordinary!

Easily Amused

Ridley: I’m amused easily. I’m also a people watcher. Add these two together and you can have endless entertainment! Who needs television when you have a brain like mine?

I find amusing or entertaining things just staring out my bedroom window. Now I don’t live in a beautiful picturesque mountainous region, overlooking a glacial lake, or even in a bad neighbourhood with knife wielding hoodlums (not that I’d class this as amusing, more dramatic with a pinch of terrifying).

It’s all fairly standard, there are houses around me and across the road there is a green area.

Despite the normal surroundings, the other day I leaned out the window absolutely fascinated by two scenes that were happening simultaneously. Most people would probably have passed by without a second glance, while I stood for twenty minutes staring out, absolutely riveted. (Part of it, of course, was also to do with me making up the story and adding dialogue in my head as it was happening. I probably looked strange, staring out, unblinking with a glazed expression and a wide grin….creeepy….)

Now, that makes me sound a bit like one of those nosey neighbour types (or worse) that always have the net curtains twitching, I’m not! Though I do fear it for my sixties, but I’ll fight against the urge. 

Back from that little side journey…the first scene had two cats. The second had two male students, moving out for the summer.

Let me set the first scene…

Travelling through tall grass, a sleek black cat spotted something ahead and froze. Then after a full body quiver, he crouched low along the side of the green. He was every inch a miniature lion from the Serengeti, stalking its next prey. Paw by paw he stepped forward through the grass.

Behind him, slipping round the corner of the wall was a cute fluffy orange kitten. He looked like he was high on glucose injected skittles.

Whatcha doing, Spike?

Meanwhile, in a house across the street, the two male students were loitering outside their front door. They were soon joined by a car pulling up beside them; their parents. The Irish mammy and daddy had arrived to the rescue, to help them move out. They had a trailer too. They started parking it, awkwardly, up the drive way.

In the green, the kitten had joined the hunting cat, scurrying up alongside him to stare down at him with its head cocked. The black cat’s tail flicked, he tried to ignore his cute fuzzy visitor. Still almost lying flat along the ground, he sped up to try to escape him. Orange kitten paused, peering after him and then bounced forward. 

Play? Play?

In the house across the road, it soon became clear that the two boys had decided to collect their rubbish during the year, instead of paying for the weekly bin collection. Black plastic bag after bag was carried out by them from the back garden, as the mother wrung her hands, and supervised. The father crossed his arms with a heavy glare.

You can just imagine the conversation once they’d finished and the trailer was packed high.

Irish Mammy shook her hands at her boy, “Oh Johnny, why did you do this to me? If you’d asked we’d have given you the money for the bin collection.”

“Sorry, Mam,” Son rubbed the back of his neck. Nearby, his friend was kicking the side of the pavement with his head lowered, trying to avoid the frowns and anguished cries.

“What sort of state is the house in?” Irish Mammy wandered to the front door. She disappeared inside.

At the same time, the black cat had almost reached his prey, all the while valiantly ignoring the bouncing kitten at his side.

Irish Mammy reappeared at the front window as she threw back the curtains and turned to stare at the room with her hands on her hips. With her back to the garden, the Son glanced at his Dad.

“Eh…there’s more…” He jerked his thumb to the side of the house and began to walk backwards. His friend was poised, ready to sprint to the back with him and help. They were both staring at the Dad.

“For feck sake…” Irish Daddy sighed and folded his arms. “Go on, but don’t let your mother see, otherwise I’ll get it in the neck and then you’ll be hearing about it from me.”

“Thanks!” The two boys scuttled away. They brought back five more bags.

It was then the orange kitten finally realised what his more serious friend was doing…

what is that…it’s moving…

Colourful!!

He shot passed the black cat, no finesse, no planning, just pure enthusiasm. He ploughed at the butterfly, which then fluttered into the air, untouched.

The black cat turned away with a violent flick of his tail and a hiss, leaving the kitten leaping after a butterfly that was now around ten feet too high to ever reach.

Teehee…jumpy jumpy!

At the house, the parents folded themselves back into their car and beeped as they drove away. 

Once they were out of sight, the two boys abandoned their slumped shoulders and bowed heads. They glanced at each other, gave a massive high five and then scrambled back inside with giant grins….

You’ll just have to imagine I was like a spectator at a particularly fantastic Wimbledon match, my head was whipping from side to side, trying to catch it all!

Ah easy amusement, never leave me…