Monthly Archives: January 2013


Since the flood, we’ve been making daily trips to our apartment to pick up random items, everything from our camera cord to dishes to the food in our refrigerator.  We call these little adventures “scavenger hunts” since all of our things have become jumbled and our place is still an obstacle course of furniture and floor fans that we must weave in and out of.  Also the heat is cranked up high, the room is dark since our lamps have been unplugged and pulled away from the walls, and everywhere you turn, you are hit with a blast of hot air and the constant rumble of equipment.  It’s like the Hunger Games in there.


Or more like Tomb Raider.  Oftentimes when we go on these “scavenger hunts,” I can’t help but feel a little like Lara Croft on a mission to collect lost items (e.g. mouthwash or oatmeal) from exotic, abandoned ruins.

Tomb RaiderSource

My iPhone doubles as a torch light and check out my scavenger bags that always accompany me on such missions:


When I verbalized these thoughts to Patrick, he started laughing in my face.  It must be because of my lack of braid or English accent.

It doesn’t matter because, as I mentioned, the heat has been turned way up, so currently it feels like 100 degrees with a 100% humidity level.  That means that after spending as little as 5 minutes in there I inevitably start to sweat and breathe hard and feel remarkably un-Lara Croft-like.

Meanwhile back in our hotel room we’ve already established a mini-home.  Patrick has his computer monitor set up on the desk where he does his homework at night and I have the ironing board set up as a “kitchen prep” table where I’ve tenaciously resumed my cooking experiments (I may have “plundered” some essential pantry items the other day).  Look for some fun “hotel cooking” episodes later this week on my new cooking blog Edible Prose!

To get inspiration, I’ve had some fun Youtubing (is that an acceptable verb these days?) hotel cooking videos, many of which I don’t plan to use but I find highly entertaining.  Here’s one for instance of a guy making English muffins from scratch using an iron:

I’ve also stumbled upon some great hotel workout routines which I hope to put to good use later on this week. This one I found quite helpful, if not a little bizarre because of the presence of twins (I think it’s because they are doing two different things at once and you don’t know where to look).

When it comes to working out, however, you really can’t go wrong with some good quality Jillian Michaels advice.

I’m reminded of my first blog post this year when I wrote: “I’m looking forward to discovering what interesting stories, surprises, and accomplishments await us in 2013.”  Looks like 2013 is well underway!

Any other fun challenges we can put to use during our next week or so here?

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A Little Redecorating…

Last Tuesday I was riding the elevator up to our apartment on the 7th floor after work when I received this text from Patrick:

[Our friend] just sent me an email.  Apparently there’s flooding on our floor.  Pipe burst.  I’m not home to see though.

The message didn’t really faze me.  I figured it would be on the other side of the building or, if anything, it would be just a small nuisance that could be wiped up with a rag or blotted out with a few towels.

I didn’t have much more time to think because 10 seconds later the doors to the elevator opened up, and I was immediately hit with a rush of humidity and the odor of “wet dog.”  The other thing I noticed was that the floor outside the elevator was completely drenched on the right side and completely dry on the left.  Guess which side our apartment is on?

I stepped onto the wet carpet and there was an audible “squish” beneath my feet (luckily I was wearing boots).  From the elevators, there are two corners you have to turn to get to our unit.   After rounding the second corner, I was greeted with this sight (photo taken about an hour later):


That would be our door to the left of the gaping hole in the wall.  Not only that, but the door to our apartment was ajar.  I peered in and saw sheet rock littering our entranceway.  There were still puddles of standing water on the floor.  Our area rugs (a recent gift from my parents) were completely saturated.  The bathroom light was on and I saw our shower handle had been removed.

I carefully navigated my way back out of the apartment and down to the front desk of our building where the security guard was sitting.  Before I could say anything, he calmly asked, “What floor do you live on?”

Long story short, he directed me to a room where the (rather frazzled) management team were meeting.  They explained that the pipe connected to our building’s overhead sprinkler system had froze due to the lack of heat circulating in the hallway on our floor.  At about 3pm that day, the pipe burst and water started gushing through the wall.  Because it was tied to the sprinkler system, the fire alarms started screeching in response, alerting them to the problem.  Our neighbor who was home at the time of the incident took this photo:


The building’s custodian then explained that he removed our shower handle thinking it might be connected to the same pipe that was causing the leak (which he later discovered was unrelated).

The water seeped into our apartment and basically covered it end-to-end.  This is what the farthest corner looked like about 3 hours after the flooding occurred:


In some ways, Patrick and I were “lucky” that the pipe burst on our floor because it meant only the things touching the ground got damaged.  Once it spread, it basically started raining down on the units below us, affecting people all the way on the 3rd floor, drenching their beds, couches, and electronics.

All I can say is that I’ve never been so thankful to have renter’s insurance!  We’ll be staying in a hotel for at least the next 3-5 days while a “restoration team” (hired by the building) dries and cleans everything up.  On the first night, they brought in dehumidifiers and by the next day, I came home to another fun surprise in the hallway:


They had torn up the carpet, removed the bottom trim, drilled holes into the walls, and set up a slew of fans.  Once I entered the apartment, things got a little more interesting:


All of our possessions had been pushed to the middle of the floor and covered in tarps.  A total of fourteen fans were set up.  And like the hallway, trim was removed along the walls and holes had been drilled around the entire perimeter.


They don’t mess around, that restoration team.

I’m a little sad that my kitchen will be out of commission this week (and that my groceries will be going to waste!) but we’re trying to look upon this as an adventure.

Also, I have to say that the response from people offering to help us out after hearing about the incident was amazing.  Thank you to everyone for your support and concern!

It will be interesting to see what will happen once the floors are dry and the true extent of the damage can be assessed.  But for right now we are taking it one day at a time.

Before I end this, how about a moment of silence for some of the casualties sustained in our unit?  Among them were:

  • My “The Casual Vacancy” library book (which is costing $45 to replace!)
  • The latest issue of “Health” magazine
  • My Macbook Pro power adapter
  • My new boots
  • Our area rugs (may be salvageable)
  • Patrick’s iPhone 5 charger

My Bucket List

When I was a little girl, my goals in life were pretty straightforward:  get married, have kids, and be able to drive to Dairy Queen whenever I wanted.

I didn’t make that last part up.  For some reason after all these years I’ve managed to preserve a specific memory from when I was hanging out at a friend’s house after school one day and her older sister (who was of driving age) arrived home, nonchalantly clutching a half-consumed Dairy Queen blizzard in her hands.  Wow, I thought to myself.  She can go to Dairy Queen whenever she wants without having to ask her mom to take her.  I want to do that someday.

Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve conquered that aspiration, along with the getting married part.  But since then, the list has expanded quite a bit.

Inspired by the movie The Bucket List, which Patrick was watching on TV the other night, and the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, I’ve put together my own “bucket list” of things (both big and small) that I hope to accomplish someday.  Some are more easily achievable (making cinnamon rolls from scratch), while others I will probably never get around to but I want to keep on here just in case (like visit all 7 continents).

I’ve also included a number of goals/ambitions that are already complete – partly to remind myself of what I’ve done and where I’ve been, but also because there are few things more satisfying in life (and confidence boosting) than crossing things off your list and I kind of got carried away doing so…

Here is how the list looks so far:

My Bucket List

  • Meet my birth family
  • Get married
  • Drive to Dairy Queen whenever I want
  • Visit the Colosseum in Rome
  • See the Mona Lisa in person
  • Drink sangria and eat paella in Spain
  • Attend culinary school
  • Visit a castle in Ireland
  • Make a documentary and screen it at a film festival
  • See Stonehenge
  • Visit the Eagle & Child in Oxford
  • Perform live onstage at The Globe Theater
  • Teach English abroad
  • Tour Buckingham Palace
  • Tour the White House
  • Work on a Harry Potter film
  • Make ice cream from scratch
  • Walk around on the Great Wall of China
  • Host a balloon party in my dorm room
  • Swim in a mud bath
  • Visit the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
  • See a show on Broadway
  • Swim with the dolphins
  • Stand behind a waterfall
  • Play slots in Las Vegas
  • See the Liberty Bell
  • Visit Gettysburg
  • See Mount Rushmore
  • Go to Disney World
  • Take a picture from the top of the Rocky Mountains
  • Visit the DMZ
  • Watch a shuttle launch
  • See Josh Groban in concert
  • Sing karaoke in Tokyo in the same room featured in Lost in Translation
  • Eat dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant/meet Jamie Oliver
  • Work backstage on a live primetime television show
  • Eat dinner at the Inn at Little Washington
  • Attend a live filming of Conan O’Brien
  • See Saturday Night Live… live
  • Visit all 7 continents
  • Visit all 50 states
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Drink butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Order a “Christmas bucket” from KFC in Japan
  • Knit a blanket
  • Attend a yoga class
  • Sneak into a double-feature at the movie theater
  • Get a dog
  • Attend an NFL game
  • Eat dinner at the French Laundry
  • Eat dinner at Alinea
  • Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Become conversational in Korean
  • Become conversational in Chinese
  • Visit Machu Picchu
  • Climb a volcano
  • Learn how to use my DSLR without the “auto” function
  • Attend mass at the Vatican
  • Go on a Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand
  • Take a random last-minute flight for a weekend trip
  • Sponsor a Korean orphan
  • Make a recipe from my Momofuku cookbook
  • Make a recipe from my Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook
  • Make cinnamon rolls from scratch
  • Make tamales from scratch
  • Make a pork crown roast
  • Make beer-can chicken
  • Learn how to fold a crane
  • Run a race
  • Get published
  • Drink wine in Napa Valley
  • Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  • Write a children’s book
  • See the Grand Canyon
  • Stand on the Four Corners
  • Visit Yosemite National Park
  • Visit Yellowstone National Park
  • See the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
  • See Niagara Falls
  • Visit Pearl Harbor
  • Kick a field goal
  • Join a flash mob
  • Learn how to play a song on the piano
  • Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway
  • Ride a gondola in Venice
  • Go on a cruise of the Greek Islands
  • See the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, China
  • See the pyramids/Sphinx in Egypt
  • See the Taj Mahal
  • See Petra in Jordan
  • Go on an African safari
  • See a koala or kangaroo in Australia
  • Visit a rainforest
  • See the Redwoods
  • Visit North Korea
  • Witness a shooting star
  • Attend a movie premiere
  • See a turtle in the Galapagos Islands


According to Arthur Frommer (you may recognize his name from the famous travel book series), there are really only 50 places that you need to visit in your lifetime.  I tend to differ on some of the things on his list, but then again, he’s the one who’s seen them all (along with a good 450 other places).

What sort of things on my list have you already done?  And what is on your own bucket list?  I’m sure it looks a lot different from mine!  I highly encourage you to make your own… and don’t forget to list things you’ve already accomplished!  It’s very therapeutic 🙂