A holiday gift to yours truly was to get a move on with my book, “One More Sip of Whine.” It’s a book comprised of short stories about my adventure thus far, as a mother. It’s raw, real, honest, foul-mouthed, and I hope, hilarious. *Side note: As I write this, I am at a ‘child play land venue’ downtown Portland. Why do I love it? My child is amongst the other batshit crazy kiddos in what looks like a cage in a kiddie jungle, as I sit and type this with a glass of pinot grigio. Bless the man or woman who created this space. I think I’m in love with you… *Back to business: I’ve previously shared a few of my chapters (each short story is a chapter) with you all and thought that I’d share the beginning of the book: My introduction, and the shortest and very first chapter of my book, “Dear Abby.” I’m SO excited that my book has been through its beta readers and is now in the editing process! Do I realize the harsh reality of getting a book published? I think I do. I’m totally stoked about it anyway and am proud of myself for attempting to move in this direction!
I wrote another book about my experience as an expat in Beijing, China that I will self-publish when this current book is all said and done. It’s called, “Crazy China Sh#% (Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? I do).” This book was written to better explain to my friends and family what my life was truly like on a daily basis whilst living in such a foreign place. I’ve just started 2 new books as well. My first ever, to be self-published, e-cookbook AND a book that details Greyson’s life as a 3 year old, month-by-month. Writing is my therapy and a place that lets me escape and relax, a comfy pocket of my life to retreat to. That being said, I love cooking & eating food just as much, hence this blog! And, I did name it foodgalleygab… let us not forget the ‘gab’ portion of this space and place! I’d love to hear your opinions on my intro and first chapter, or opinions on any of the other 3 chapters that I’ve previously posted. Many thanks and I hope you enjoy this crazy book journey with me, as I’ll post the whole process as it happens. Happy Saturday!
“One More Sip of Whine”
I NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE WRITING this book because no one could’ve ever prepared me for the absolute insane and yet, insanely wonderful ins and outs of motherhood. There are no words, however, I’ve tried to use many in this book to describe to you my experiences. Did I ever expect that a little person would be poking me in the vajajay and screaming “vagiiinnnaaa!” Or shouting like a madman “I’m crazy, mommy! I’m so many women!” Excuse me? No, I absolutely did not expect this to be my life. It’s a totally and completely, crazy and fucked up ride. I’m not going to preach to you about the latest studies in child rearing because I’m making my own up as I go. Unless, of course, the study states something that I’m already doing right, in that case, I win. Killin’ it as a mama. I have no idea why I thought when I became a mother I’d be in the elite five percent of motherhood. I’ve been knocked off that pedestal… hard. Those elite moms are often what I will refer to as the ‘mother shamers’ in this book. Also, it’s a code name for ‘not taking responsibility and feeling totally okay about my batshit crazy child rearing ways.’ I’ll get all real on ya at times and explain the seriousness of some of my struggles, but the rest? Well, that’s just a comical twist on the fact that bringing a kid into this world challenges every last sane and sleep deprived bone in your body. And, that sometimes, I think a glass of wine is the best medicine for almost all child related ailments (for you of course, not your child, I’m not that much of an asshole).
It’s the moments when your kid escapes the shower wearing his underwear on the top of his head while shouting “I’m so cute!” And, now you’re running late to a birthday party only to notice you failed to put mascara on both eyes after you’re miles away from home, but your new philosophy since becoming a mom has become “fuck it!” To virtually every facet of your life. Phew! Words to live by. When the word ‘sex’ is something you think you remember from your college years, and the word ‘poop’ is something you use in almost every sentence. When you think the world is over because your child might not be going to Princeton, when in fact, he has yet to begin preschool, and you’ve not figured out why all the mother shamers got on that shit while their kid was still in utero. Yes, it’s all of these beautiful moments that at the end of the day, make your life so totally weird and nuts but somehow, makes it the best life you’ve ever lived.
My lil’ man is the coolest little shit on the block. His name is Greyson and he rocks at life. He was born in Beijing, China because I was working there at the time and I think that makes him even more rad. He is bilingual and bad ass and I love him more than Brad Pitt. G is the reason my world spins so crooked but so right. My husband, bless his Scottish heart, deals with our shit daily and I think is entertained by our unpredictable ways. And this, folks, is my life.
I’m a total mess! I’ve screwed up and this mistake can’t be taken back. I’m losing my shit and it all began with me getting stupid drunk in Shanghai on Valentine’s Day almost three years ago. I mean, I could barely see straight kinda drunk. Weeks later, I found out I had done it; I’d gone and gotten myself good and knocked up. Fast forwarding, I now have this little baby… fast forwarding some more, I now have this little toddler… and his dad, my husband. My boobs have never felt the same and I barely breast fed (which I cried about daily for 6 months and am pretty sure I’ve been added to the Motherhood of Shame list. You don’t believe me? I assure you, it’s real. It’s a secret, or really, not so secret society of mother ‘shamers’), I’m developing cellulite overnight, my baby hair is coming in at a rapid rate and I regularly look like Alfalfa, my husband tells me I’m sexy and I tell him to ‘shut up’ because we both know that’s a big fat lie, and I’ve ignored my friends for approximately two years now guaranteeing me little return in the friendship department. I love my child but I think I love my brandy and wine almost as much. I thought I was a tiger mom but now I think I may be the most underachieving mother and wife who’s ever lived; and guess what, I’m TOTALLY okay with that! What’s wrong with me?! Am I going to hell in a hand basket with an empty bottle of booze?! Surely, the Devil knows this is my worst fate, and I will, therefore, receive just that. What can I do to score some sweet points with the Mother Goddesses? I’m a good person, I swear! Wait, I don’t think I’m supposed to swear. See! I don’t even know the rules of this sick and twisted game they’re calling “motherhood.” Help me, Abby! Help!
DEAR MOMMIE DEAREST:
Has it occurred to you that you may be affecting your husband’s self-confidence and possibly giving your child a litany of bad examples with your love affair of alcohol and general disregard for the people in your life? You say you’re a ‘good person’ but this may not be the side of yourself that you’re letting your child, husband, and friends see or get to know. I’m not advocating for ‘tiger mom’s’, however, I do not think accepting failure is the alternative you should take. Perhaps reflect on the impact of your actions to others and to yourself, and then slowly make positive changes like thanking your husband and spending quality time playing with your child; pick up the phone occasionally to check-in on your friends to maintain or rebuild your relationships.
Dear Santa Baby is a post of two letters that I’ve written to “Santa.” My mother always asks me what I want for Christmas via email and I always respond with a list, and then a fictitious letter to the jolly old dude. If you don’t want insight into my ‘interesting’ sense of humor, workings of my odd brain, if you’re easily offended, or don’t think life is funny and meant to be laughed at, stop reading now and just continue to follow my blog for the good eats. 😉 I mean, my true wishes? To be a blogger full time, to publish an amazing cookbook with a bonafide publisher. For my book, “One More Sip of Whine,” to hit the ground running and find an incredible publisher to work with, and, of course, to find a magic skinny and happy pill. One that puts me in both of those states permanently. Hehe… seriously though, those are my magical wishes.
My first Santa letter is the one that I’ve just written to my momma, and the second letter is one that I randomly just found from 2008! Enjoy, and I hope you still come back to my blog for more of me and my grub. Happy holidays friends and followers! MWAH! XO
Dear Santa Baby,
This year’s been a rough one, sir. New house, new three-nager, the ol’ ball n’ chain, and of course, the turds and turdettes that I teach daily. I know, I know, I can feel your tears for me now, and I knew you’d understand. This being said, I think I’ve been an extra good girl this year, as I’ve endured the wrath of ‘poverty’ (house poor), politics (Trump-o-la), and pain (I have a hus-child, ya know). What more can a girl go through before the good people of the Lotto decide that my good reward should come now, this very year, this very Christmas, and be GRANNNDDDD.
A few things: My closet and all of its glorious inhabitants have been suffering from a severe lack of vitamin D, as I’ve gotten fat and can’t wear those goods in the outdoor venue in which they are so deserving of. Also, I live in OR so naturally, my skin is suffering from the same lack of vitamin D. This all being said, I would like the following 2 things from you:
1- A magic skinny pill so that I can eat everything I want and still maintain the svelte figure of Giselle Bundchen. Thanks
2- A trip to Bora Bora for some well-needed sunshine, sanity, and surf
Welcome back! This super easy, healthy, vegan, and flavorful Carrot Mushroom Barley Soup is a fall favorite of mine. This is my first food post since moving to Oregon from Beijing and it feels amazing to be posting about food again! Pictures? Well, terrible. I didn’t anticipate on shooting this recipe and made a quick last minute decision to do so… sorry for the horror! I have been beyond crazy busy since returning to the US. Not enough minutes in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to be doing. I’ll be trying to hone in on my amateur food photography shots over the next few months with more planned recipes – especially soup since this is most definitely soup season. Anything soul warming is a must! *Side note: Been overindulging in hot apple cider (from the farm of course – this is Oregon!) with spiced rum. So warm everything for the fall for sure. Took two weeks to figure out why I was so bloated! 😉 Was worth it, however, currently back on the less caloric concoctions. As usual, I digress. I had been craving barley and a different style soup. In this particular Carrot Mushroom Barley pot, I did not add small white beans, though this is my recommendation. Takes it to a new level! Sometimes, I cut the carrot portion in half and sub in sweet potato for a slightly different, and yes, sweeter flavor. Remember, any recipe can be used as just a base recipe for you. Feel free to substitute, add, adjust etc to your taste buds or simply to use whatever is left in your fridge. Waste nothing! Slurp, spill, slobber, and sip yourself into autumn… Enjoy!
- 9 small to medium carrots- diced loosely
- 3/4 package sliced (medium in thickness) mushrooms - I prefer white or cremini
- 10.5 ounces cooked barley
- 32 ounces veggie broth (I usually add a couple teaspoons of Better than Bouillon as well)
- 1 medium yellow onion - diced loosely
- 3 cloves garlic - diced loosely
- Olive to coat pan
- Salt & pepper to taste (be mindful of your salt usage pending upon how much sodium your veggie broth has)
- Oregano to taste (I enjoy quite a bit)
- Optional (but extremely recommended): 1 can of small white beans
- Place olive oil in pot on low-medium heat. Add onion and a dash of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes
- Add garlic. Cook for about 1 more minute
- Add mushrooms and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes more
- Add carrots, oregano, and veggie broth (bouillon as well if using). Cook until carrots are soft. Approximately 10 minutes
- Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender
- Return pot to low-medium heat and add barley and small white bean (if using). Stir occasionally and add any remaining oregano, broth, salt/pepper you'd like
- Let cook on low for approximately 10-15 minutes
- Substitute half the portion of carrots for sweet potato!
- You can also add 1/4 dry white wine for a different flavor.
- Pinot Noir
(These photos are of my collection of face masks for polluted days)
Farewell, Beijing – the Exit of an Expat
The time had come. I woke up on an only somewhat smoggy day (good by China standards), looked around at my bare walled apartment, unplugged the air purifiers, took multiple videos of our home for my memory and future nostalgia, but mostly, for Greyson’s (my 20 month old) memory so he’ll always know where it all began…
I moved to Beijing, China on a two-year contract five years ago. I hopped on the plane in the beginning of September 2011 to start my contract teaching primary music at an international school. Upon arrival, I went to my fairly large 2-bedroom apartment. I had no introductions to anyone and was told to take the #75 bus to work the next morning. Needless to say, the English prompt on the bus was turned off and I got lost. Lost in a city with no one around me who spoke any English. I found the school… eventually. Was this experience to be the foreshadowing of my life here in China? Still, no fear. Lots of smog, mostly no English except for the other expats, and a place called Sanlitun where Westerners frequented.
Fast forwarding, I started to realize and feel the effects of the Beijing skies. Pollution was terrible and the world was starting to hear about it. The international community at large was now beginning to slightly understand what living “Under the Dome” might be like, look like, smell like. How could I raise Greyson in a place where I can’t open the windows? When the AQI (air quality index) was the only phone app I checked every day. Expats cruised around the city wearing masks. They were an almost daily part of our attire, of our existence here. I was constantly checking the apartment’s air quality with my special in-home air monitor. Debating whether or not I should tape the windows so that the lung infiltrating pieces of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) would have a slimmer chance of secretly seeping indoors. A world where there were, at times, 7-12 days where Greyson never saw the other side of the door.
Was it sometimes crazy being in a place where taxis had no seatbelts- how was I to get Greyson around? To my utter horror and disbelief, expat friends suggested I simply put him on my lap. These were normal, first world friends suggesting such insanity. This was not the time or an instance in which to adopt the “when in Rome” philosophy. I was not immersing in this way. No, ma’am. The roads were crazy, tuk-tuk fumes gave me headaches, albeit a far quicker ride than a taxi on most occasions, no one spoke my language, and the fact that day-to-day logic felt absent in this world, as it wasn’t my own. So, yes. Often times, it was crazy and frustrating. Many other expat friends I knew in Beijing felt the same and have since left. Though, there are friends I have that I believe may be Beijing ‘lifers.’ I admire this. I know not of what they are made. I find this to be a very impressive feat, and in a way, I envy them for this.
If it seems as though I did not enjoy Beijing, I truly did – just in other ways. I loved the experience of being in a completely different environment than I had previously known. Everything from epic travel adventures to a greater cultural understanding and appreciation has been gained. Greyson has been raised bilingually and is now, here in the US, in a Chinese immersion daycare and his life will be forever changed. I made so many wonderful friends from all over the world, and came back to the states with an appreciation for my country that I otherwise never would have had. I see and feel everything so differently right now. I am sure this will wane with time, however, I will do my best to remind myself of the basic freedoms I have here – clean potable water, healthy and breathable air, safe roads, law enforcement: efficiency and effectiveness. I now possess an internal sense of calm and happiness being home. I feel so lucky, so grateful, and so at peace. “I never would have found it if it weren’t for you.” Thank you, Beijing. “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
-Your most grateful expat
I am a vegetarian food blogger who is just skimming the surface of how this blog stuff functions and am learning the ins and outs of food photography. I am an elementary music teacher at an international school, a new mom, a wife, and an expat. I live in Beijing, China and have been living the craziest and wildest adventures for over four years now. This is my fifth and final year here and then off to Oregon (though I’m a native New Yorker). I’ve decided that during my last year in Asia I want to finally get this blog going, chronicle my last year of travels, and become an amateur food photographer. Though I have no formal training as a cook or a chef, it is a hobby that I have had for about 15 years now. It really blossomed when I lived in OR and spent many a day cooking with my fabulous vegan friend, April. We’d drink wine, listen to loads of music (back then we were really into Feist & Rodrigo y Gabriela), create food and cocktails, and cook for all of our friends. More about that in future posts on the fantastic reflections and recollections of my life (there are many). My BS is in Classical Piano Performance and my Med is in Music Education. Thus far, creating this blog with the very little experience and understanding of the deep and inner workings of this blog-o-sphere world has been my most challenging education yet! I rarely use recipes when I cook and my philosophy is to never waste food, therefore I am often concocting dishes from what is left in my fridge. I wanted to finally write down my creations and actually be able to give people a solid recipe when they’d ask me for one of my dishes that didn’t sound like “oh you know, a little of this, a pinch of that” etc. So, I shall leave you with this… Expect some awesomely weird, fun, and ridiculous posts. I hope you both enjoy and join me on this blogging adventure!