Monthly Archives: July 2013

Conform To The Four Seasons

The Chinese people believe that human and nature are closely related.   In particular, sleeping schedules and eating varieties should be different in each season.  The Chinese theory recommends the following.

  • One should go to bed late at night and wake up early in the morning in spring and summer.
  • One should go to bed early at night and wake up early in the morning in fall. 
  • One should go to bed early at night and wake up late in the morning in winter.
  • One should consume more sour food in spring.
  • One should consume more astringent and bitter food in summer.
  • One should consume more spicy food in fall.
  • One should consume more salty food in winter.

When you make these small changes, your daily life will feel more balanced.  You will feel more energetic.

The Winchester

This is a unique neighborhood community strong place.  The menu offers seasonal ingredients from local farms and changes often.  The dishes are well prepared and healthy with lots of vegetables.  The hours are great.  It is one of the few restaurants that opens late in Grand Rapids.   I especially love their fried chicken and salmon sandwiches.  Their fish tacos dish is also amazing.  The prices are very reasonable for the high quality prepared food.  They also have good wine and beer selections.  Overall it is a great place to hang out when you want to relax, to meet with friends or to just grab a bite with some drinks.

Shea Lips

I love the Quench! Shea Lips line from Abbey Brown Soap Artisan in Chicago.  It is very moisture, and it makes my lips soft for a long time.   It is the must-have for the hash Midwest weather.  I use the Shea Lips year-round.  All their products are handcrafted with natural ingredients.  They also offer some intriguing classes.


I first discovered quinoa at the Chestnut restaurant in Brooklyn.   The waitress was eager to explain the okra quinoa dish and gave me some history of this tasty grain.   Later I had this very delicious quinoa hashbrowns in the Public restaurant in Soho New York.  The taste of the quinoa hashbrowns was unreal. It was not oily and in perfect crunchiness. This healthy grain contains high good protein.  You can cook it easily less than 30 minutes and use it in place of rice or potatoes.  Quinoa can be cooked in different ways.  The texture is pleasing to your taste bud. My friend Sandy also has this easy quinoa salad recipe which provides a way to cook quinoa early before the meals.   This is especially helpful when preparing for a picnic or a party.

1 c. quinoa
1 c. diced red pepper
1 c. edamame (frozen is fine)
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. dried tart cherries, or cranberries

Vinaigrette Dressing:
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
pinch sugar
salt & pepper

Top with toasted pepitas.


Drinking water is important.  It is time to stop buying water from the plastic bottles.  I believe every tiny action from each individual counts.  It is our responsibility to care for the Earth.  Lifefactory offers eco-friendly glass bottles in different and fun color for everyone from babies to adults.  The design is modern, and the silicone sleeves make the glass bottles easy to be carried.  I especially love the 22 oz water bottle for adults.  It comes handy when I am out about.  If you have young children, the non-toxic nipples for the baby bottles and teethers are also the crucial choices.  All of the lifefactory products are BPA-free.

Green Envee

If you are looking for the environmental safe skincare products, Green Envee is the place.  I met Tim in November 2012, and I was drawn to his story.  I felt his commitment to the safe skincare products.  I agree with his company’s philosophy behind the products.  The Children’s Care line from Green Envee is amazing.  I especially like the body lotions for myself.  The scent is light, and the lotion is silky.  My skin loves it.

Bug Repellent

My skin is super sensitive to any bugs.  I have to put on large amount of bug repellent products before I head out every time.  I tried many different products.  I worry about the side effects those products have.

I have been searching for an effective and non-chemical bug repellent.  In 2012, I found lifestings from duggan sisters.  It is an organic lotion.  The ingredients are natural and easy on the skin.  The smell is very nice and light.  It simply works.  I can now enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about bug bites.

Can Exercise Be Easy?

The short answer is yes.  You might need to redefine the word exercise and change your knowledge of what are considered exercises.  With a brand new attitude towards exercises, it is easy.

Unlike typical oriental people, I am taller than average Asian female.  I have long legs.  When I was in the Junior High school, my physical teacher forced me to participate in the running competitions.  I hated exercises.  I told him that I was not good at any physical activities and I had very bad physical scores during my Elementary school years.  He disregarded my complaints and believed that my long legs could win any running competitions.  I was miserable.  I dreaded going to school because of all the training before and after school.  Finally, after two semesters, he decided that I was not trainable and released me from the team.  My bad experiences with exercises continued throughout all of my schooling years.

Then I moved to the Midwest U.S.A when I was 24.  Driving is almost the only option to get to anywhere, especially during the bitter winter.  Taiwan is different.  Public transportation is very advanced and convenient.   People walk to places easily because of the friendly short distance layout of the shops, markets and businesses.  I had to plan exercises to keep up with my health shortly after moving to the U.S.  I had to reassure myself that exercises weren’t scary.  Here is what I have learned.

Exercises are as simple as moving your body.  It could be walking stairs.  I make conscious decisions to park my car at the edge of the grocery stores or restaurants’ parking lots when the weather is nice.  I find fun activities to try, such as ballroom dancing and bicycling.   Vacationing in a big city is also another good method because big city like New York or Chicago provides more walking opportunities.  Exercises don’t need to be restricted to the set aside time or Gym.  Every movement is a start.  The first baby step is to start moving and to eliminate quiescence state.

When your mind and body are adapted to the concept and are active throughout the day, the final step is to set aside time to exercise for the minimum of half hour each time and at least three times a week.  I like to get my exercises done first thing in the morning.  I prefer the comfort of my home, and I favor the instructor lead cardio and weight lifting DVDs from Beachbody.

My best advice for the beginner people is to start easy.  Moving is exercising.  The more advanced or difficult exercise programs aren’t necessary better for you.  Be yourself.  Do not follow the crowd.  Find something that work exclusively for you.

Green Wagon Farm

My 77 years old aunt visited me in 2008 during my brother’s wedding.  I knew she had a big vegetable garden in her backyard in California.  We were chatting about food, vegetables and gardening.  She strongly recommended me to eat better for my health by choosing non-chemical produces.  She challenged me to eat more organic food.  I was surprised by her commitment on organics as an old Chinese lady.  I decided to give it a try.  I have joined local CSA farm groups yearly since 2009.

This year I chose Green Wagon Farm for my CSA share.  It has been a blessing.  Although this farm is relatively new and the farmers are young, the care they show to their vegetables and members is immense.  The price for a share is very reasonable and affordable.  The amount of one share easily feeds four adults for a week.  There are enough vegetable varieties.  The quality of the vegetable is very good.  They are successful farmers.    And the best of all is that they offer CSA winter shares for November and December.

Green Wagon Farm is the only farm I find in Grand Rapids Michigan that offers fresh vegetables for the last two months of the year.  Winter is long, cold and dark in the Midwest.  With both summer and winter shares, you can enjoy fresh locally grown vegetables for six months out of a year.  Winter seems less harsh when you have fresh vegetables on the dining table.  I am excited.


A New Turn In The South

I was attending a conference in Atlanta Georgia in June 2012.  I knew my flight would arrive in the early morning, so I planned for a breakfast restaurant. I found Empire State South restaurant.

My husband was with me, and we both loved the restaurant.  The restaurant is sectioned off in three parts, the courtyard, the coffee bar and the dining room. While we were waiting for our table at the coffee bar, we were lucky enough to meet chef Hugh, the author of A New Turn In The South cookbook.  He was witty and friendly.

We had one of the best southern breakfast we ever had.  Instead of oily and heavy, the dishes were well prepared with local sourced ingredients in the season.  We immediately bought the cookbook because we would like to reproduce these delicious dishes.

The cookbook has many good creative southern recipes with simple ingredients and some chef Hugh’s cooking notes with personally stories.  It contains enough beautiful photos to inspire an amateur.    You will also find two useful howtos, “how to cut a mango” and “how to cook a global artichoke”.