things i like (#11)

happy springtime! even though it's snowing yet again, i'm going to optimistically imagine that it'll be the last time. meanwhile, these are the things keeping me in good spirits: 

this beautiful matcha bowl, picked up at umami mart in oakland.

this beautiful matcha bowl, picked up at umami mart in oakland.

a scoop of this tea party tea sloowly eases me into wakefulness each morning.

a scoop of this tea party tea sloowly eases me into wakefulness each morning.

these paperwhites, which remind me that it'll soon be gardening season again.

these paperwhites, which remind me that it'll soon be gardening season again.

two egg soaps in a mini carton, from korea via my friend june.

two egg soaps in a mini carton, from korea via my friend june.

back in the bay area...

i'm sorry i've been neglecting you. blame the winter. i blame everything on this winter. it takes all my will just to go outside, so obviously, these are not optimal conditions for generating new material. just wait til spring - you won't know what hit you! there will be blog posts every day! (well, don't hold me to that.) 

it seems as good time as any to go back a few months to warmer times. in december, i was in the bay area for about 10 days. the goal of the trip was for hhh to clean out his childhood room (a gargantuan task then documented in this talk at the museum of chinese in america),  but we managed to go up to berkeley, oakland, and san francisco twice. (the rest of the time was spent sifting through mountains of records, 20-year-old pez dispensers, gum, old homework, shoes, and gifts from ex-girlfriends....) we visited some new places and an old favorite. 

first up, umami mart. it's a super cute shop (both  brick-and-mortar and online) opened by kayoko akabori and yoko kumano a few years back. they carry all kinds of japanese kitchen and barware, and have a selection of grocery/pantry goods in the back. they recently opened up their bottle shop as well. it is the first japanese beer shop in the u.s.! check it out if you're in oakland. 

a view of the back grocery/pantry corner. 

a view of the back grocery/pantry corner. 

adorable prints and some of their kitchenware selection. 

adorable prints and some of their kitchenware selection. 

hhh and i also made it to the ferry building, which neither of us had visited before. it reminded me of chelsea market - i love these kinds of big indoor markets. my first experience with this type of shopping was probably the food court levels of department stores in taiwan. those places were amazing - you could eat to your heart's content, and then buy specialty snacks, chocolates, or fancy teas to take with you. so i always love these kinds of places. since we were at the ferry building in the middle of the afternoon, we just grabbed a couple snacks (hhh headed for boccalone for a meat cone (sounds gross, hhh claimed it was delicious), while I headed for the sweets at the pastry stand outside bouli bar. there was also plenty to see in the non-edible category: heath ceramics, and a garden shop where i picked up some paperwhite bulbs. 

it's a long skinny space lit by a skylight that runs the length of the building. and you can actually catch ferries there. 

it's a long skinny space lit by a skylight that runs the length of the building. and you can actually catch ferries there. 

bright bulb vases at heath ceramics...love these! 

bright bulb vases at heath ceramics...love these! 

all kinds of fungi. 

all kinds of fungi. 

some cookies and biscuits from bouli bar. 

some cookies and biscuits from bouli bar. 

a look into the kitchen at bouli bar. 

a look into the kitchen at bouli bar. 

boccalone, home of the meat cone. 

boccalone, home of the meat cone. 

and we also returned to chez panisse, an old favorite. we always go here with hhh's parents when we visit - once we met them there straight from sfo. it's always so good. we eat in the cafe upstairs, since it's so impossible to get a reservation in the formal dining room. 

the entrance to the arts and crafts house that is chez panisse.

the entrance to the arts and crafts house that is chez panisse.

a poster in the entry featuring alice waters' foundation, edible schoolyard.

a poster in the entry featuring alice waters' foundation, edible schoolyard.

and of course, no visit to san francisco is complete without a visit to the home of good friends. maybe one of these days, they will let me do a home tour of their place! 

bryant-street

ps. wnyc just told me it feels like -11F in central park. i am not going outside today. 

snow day

i was going totally stir crazy today indoors. it snowed last night, but it's quickly turning into that special brand of yellow-ish brown new york city slush that you want to avoid at all costs. everything is dead and sad (by everything i just mean my outdoor plants, not people or anything). and on monday, the semester starts and i have to (i mean...get to) teach, so i can't just sit around watching my paperwhites grow anymore.  i've been propagating some jade plant cuttings too, but recently realized that i was doing it all wrong. this seems to be a theme with my gardening...i really should research then cut, rather than the other way around. anyway, we'll see if i was able to save them...stay tuned. 

my sad dead yard.

my sad dead yard.

how i wished my yard looked. (this is actually a garden near the river cafe and brooklyn bridge park in the summer of 2014.)

how i wished my yard looked. (this is actually a garden near the river cafe and brooklyn bridge park in the summer of 2014.)

so instead, for some insta-plant gratification,  i went up fifth avenue to zuzu's petals. zuzu's is the neighborhood florist (it's weirdly also the name of the ramen shop in the neighborhood, but there's no relation that i can see), and i'm always tempted to submit a job application when i go in there so i can be surrounded by beautiful flowers all day long. everyone in there is living the dream, if you ask me. 

so i trudged through the said slush and got myself some snow day plants. this is what i came home with: 

the green leafy thing with purple undersides is a calathea, and the pinky-green plant is a chinese evergreen.

the green leafy thing with purple undersides is a calathea, and the pinky-green plant is a chinese evergreen.

a close-up of the bright pink edges of the chinese evergreen. it went perfectly into the crinkle planter from cb2. 

a close-up of the bright pink edges of the chinese evergreen. it went perfectly into the crinkle planter from cb2

i instantly felt 1,000 times better. aren't those lovely? the google gods say that they are both low-light plants, and the calathea is from the tropics. the "siam aurora" chinese evergreen is apparently a new hybrid - they don't all have the variegated pink coloring. anyway, now that i have these plants, i suppose i can go on living until spring comes. but i may need another new houseplant or two if this miserable weather keeps up. (hhh, don't say i didn't warn you.)