The Big Kahuna

IMG_3379.jpeg

I am Kānaka Maoli, or Native Hawaiian, and generally speaking, I consider the phrase “big kahuna” objectionable when appropriated to mean “something awesome”. Traditionally, kahuna is a title that indicates that a person has expertise or mastery of a subject (healing, navigation, etc.). It is not the proper way to describe a big wave, an amazing beer, or a great hamburger.

Despite my dislike of the phrase “big kahuna,” the best summary I’ve ever seen of my own parenting beliefs comes from the late 90’s movie, The Big Kahuna. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this essay called “Wear Sunscreen” (I got it off of a friend’s Facebook page) but I agree with every word, and I hope that my kids, and yours, will take this to heart:

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are NOT as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing every day that scares you. Sing. Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss. Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch. Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't, maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't, maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself, either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's. Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance. Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography in lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Don't mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. But trust me on the sunscreen.

I read that “Wear Sunscreen” was a hypothetical commencement speech, which explains why I like it so much. I love a good commencement speech. If you know of any good ones let me know!

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Can I get you a drink?

public.jpeg

Two of my favorite things are red wine and coffee.

When I was in college, I studied in France, and I was fortunate enough to live at the home of the owners of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, often abbreviated to DRC, which is an estate in Burgundy, France that produces white and red wine. It is widely considered among the world's greatest wine producers, and DRC bottles are among the world's most expensive. It takes its name from the domaine's most famous vineyard, Romanée-Conti. They let me live in their home but I was NOT allowed to pick grapes at Romanée-Conti. Instead I participated in the vendange at one of their less famous vineyards. Turns out grape picking is very hard work. Despite this early exposure to fine wine, I am not a wine snob. In fact, I usually just order the house red when I go out to dinner. However, two of my dear friends recently turned me on to Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel, and it is delicious. It’s a bit spendy, but if you are going to drink wine and you can’t afford DRC (me!), this is the one! Divine.

IMG_5495.jpg

Also, for our anniversary, my husband bought us an espresso machine. We already had a french press, a regular coffee maker, and a Keurig. The french press makes the best tasting coffee, but is a pain to clean up. Lazy, I know. We use the regular coffee maker for parties. We were guiltily using the Keurig on a daily basis but the pods are so unenvironmental, even though I was buying the compostable ones. Our new espresso machine is a Nespresso. According to their website they use sustainably sourced coffee. It comes in pods, but they are aluminum and recyclable. You put the used pods in a bag and mail them back to Nespresso and they recycle them for you. Not sure about the total carbon footprint on this one, what with the shipping, but my goodness the coffee is amazing. Especially if you use whole milk in the frother that comes with it. And sprinkle it with a little cane sugar. Wow. I am not even kidding, this thing is a delight.

If you are considering a Nespresso, note that they seem to follow the “razor and blades” business model, which is where one item (the handle) is sold at a low price in order to increase sales of a complementary good (the blades). With the Nespresso, you can get the espresso machine for an okay price, but the pods are spendy. Especially if you drink a million cups a day like me. But even if you don’t get a Nespresso, you should definitely try the wine. And, if you have a favorite wine, do tell!

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

The Warriors

Okay Lord of the Rings nerds, you know the scene in The Two Towers where the Ents marched on Isengard? As a refresher, the Ents are the tree people. The Ents are known for being patient and deliberate. As the elder Ent named Treebeard says, we Ents do not like being roused; and we never are roused unless it is clear to us that our trees and our lives are in danger. 

I haven’t been to Hawai’i since January, so I decided to post this more recent photo instead, because I’m sitting in front of a mountain, even though it’s not Mauna Kea!

I haven’t been to Hawai’i since January, so I decided to post this more recent photo instead, because I’m sitting in front of a mountain, even though it’s not Mauna Kea!

This scene always reminds me of the Native Hawaiian side of my family. Like the Ents, Native Hawaiians are an ancient indigenous people, thought of by many as being large and harmless. Part of the scenery. Beautiful but non-threatening. Until our environment is threatened. And even then, we don’t move quickly.

Now, finally, Hawaiians all over the country, including two of my favorite celebs, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Momoa, have been demonstrating to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project on Mauna Kea.

Like the Ents, it is our elders who are leading this fight to protect our culture and our future. This article describes how our kūpuna are our bravest warriors. They have insisted on remaining on the front line and being the first arrested, asking the younger protectors to stand down while they are taken into custody. My mom just arrived yesterday. Go mom! My youngest daughter is going over in a few weeks. Maybe they’ll be cell mates if they both get put in jail!

Our problem is not with the TMT, but with the location. Mauna Kea is a sacred place. No one would dare put a telescope on the Vatican, even if it were in an excellent location. They would simply find another spot. Same for us. Find another spot to put the telescope. This New York Times article does a good job of summarizing the issue.

This article talks about my youngest daughter’s Kumu (teacher) leading protests in Palo Alto. She is a warrior. Our local Kumu is leading our protest today. He is a warrior. Our small group of Native Hawaiians and allies plan to gather, dance, chant, and raise awareness about the TMT later this morning. Join us if you can! Time and place can be found on our group’s facebook page.

I doubt our efforts will be successful, but like Treebeard said, of course, it is likely enough, my friends, likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.

Like the TMT scientists, we too are interested in peering into the universe and learning what is out there. But not from the vantage point of Mauna Kea. We wouldn’t put a bunch of huge telescopes on your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, so please show some respect and don’t put another one on ours.

Mahalo,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Who is your celebrity look-alike?

IMG_5910.jpeg

Shannon & Luke

Who is your celebrity look-alike? Mine is David Sedaris.

Me in high school

Me in high school

When I was in high school, my friends flattered me into thinking that I sort of looked like Shannon Dougherty. Shannon who? Yes, yes, there was a popular TV show back when people still watched TV and when dinosaurs roamed the earth called 90210. Still never heard of her? I think maybe she was a one hit wonder. Anyway, here is a photo of her snuggled up with Luke Perry.

I did kind of look like her when I smiled, but in this picture, my brother and I look less like Shannon and Luke and more like a couple of grumpy Chinese skiers posing for “American Gothic”. My sweet brother and Luke Perry both died way too young, so I don’t really like this comparison anyway.

Later, I was compared to Elaine from Seinfeld (by my brother, mainly because he said I danced like Elaine). So true! I can really boogie when I want to. The dancing episode (Little Kicks) is hilarious and if you haven’t seen it recently, it is worth a re-watch.

My brother & me

My brother & me

American Gothic

American Gothic

Now, I like to think that David Sedaris is my long lost twin. We have so much in common. He is very short and so am I. We both love weird, impractical fashion. We both are obsessed with small animals. We both adore our families. And, we both love to clean. Hmmm. A short person who wears funny clothes, loves animals and family, and loves to clean. Now that I think about it I sound more like a tidy toddler than David Sedaris. I’m in England now, and I know he lives here, so I’m dreaming that I’ll bump into him. Just to say hi! And so I can tell him how much I admire his work. Several years ago, I ran into George R.R. Martin (author of Game of Thrones) in the parking lot of our local pizza parlor and I chatted with him for a minute, so I think it’s possible that I might really see Davis Sedaris. If you haven’t read David Sedaris’s stuff, you definitely should. He will crack you up. He is the master of being really funny without ever being mean.

Do you have a celebrity look-alike? Or perhaps a celebrity soul mate? Who is it?

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!


I’m a Little Tea Pot 🎵

IMG_5720.jpg

When I was a kid, my nickname was cookie jar. Why? Because I ate so many cookies that my body began to look a bit like a cookie jar.

Cookies are still my favorite food. I love cream filled sandwich cookies the most. On the low end, I love Oreos. The new Oreo Megas are obscenely good. On the high end, I like macarons. Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, which are good too, but not as good as the French macarons. I’ve tried many many times to make macarons. They taste great, but they never look right. Mine look like lumpy toadstools. If you know how to make them, please send me your recipe.

I’m in Dublin now, and we found a Ladurée (the iconic Parisian tea room). For me though, tea is just an excuse to eat cookies.

IMG_0386.JPEG
IMG_0387.JPEG

Obviously, most people come to Ireland to drink beer, not to eat cookies. Guinness is king here, and yes, we’ve already had a few pints. Also, I’ve seen a lot of freckles. I read in Cosmo that Scotland boasts the highest percentage of natural redheads, with 13%, while Ireland comes in second with 10%. So, first impressions of Dublin are beer and freckles. And, lots of amazing restaurants. Who knew it was such a foodie town? The other funny thing is that I’ve seen a Swatch, a French Connection, and a Benetton on the same block as our hotel. Unexpected. All of my favorite brands from the 80s.

Also, we went to Riverdance, which was very fun. It’s a little mystical and slightly dorky, but the dancing and music are impressive. If you get the chance, you should definitely go.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Chinese Eggplant Recipe

IMG_5498.JPG

Okay, here it is! The best comfort food ever. My friend Yao from The Hutong sent this recipe to me. Whip up some of this fried eggplant and serve it over a bowl of steaming white rice and be happy. You won’t be sorry, because it is delicious. If you make it, let me know what you think.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 12.03.40 PM.png

Travel Hacks

IMG_5672.JPG

I have several friends (plus my husband) who are renewable energy lawyers. I always ask them what we can do as individuals to help combat climate change (always hoping for a different answer). This recent article in the Washington Post reiterates exactly what they’ve all been telling me, which is that “Staying home, in fact, is the essence of making a big difference in a big hurry. That’s because nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel. Cancel a couple long flights, and you can halve your carbon footprint. Schedule a couple, and you can double or triple it.”

I’m very excited because I’m heading to Ireland and England in a few days. I’ve been looking forward to this trip, which we’ve been planning for my husband’s 50th birthday. But, after this trip we are going to seriously reconsider our future travel plans for the sake of our planet. I think we’ll try to stay put for awhile. Hang out at home with Coconut, our English Bulldog. Actually that sounds pretty nice.

So, for Mother Earth’s sake, I strongly discourage you from air travel. However, I do have a short list of things that make long trips more pleasant, if you must fly.

If your airport has a spa and you have a long layover, get a facial or massage. Yes, you’ll pay more, but you’ll feel better. If your airport doesn’t have a spa, you don’t have much time, or you are too cheap to get a massage, use the pay by the minute massage chairs.

If you have access to an airport lounge, use it. For the uninitiated, an airport lounge is a facility that offers comforts beyond those afforded in the airport terminal itself, such as more comfortable seating, quieter environments, free WiFi, free drinks (booze! good coffee!), healthy snacks, and showers. It may seem weird to use the showers, but once my daughters and I had a 10 hour layover and it was great to take showers in the Delta lounge. Plus, they provided towels and toiletries.

Walk as much as possible. Don’t take the escalator or the moving sidewalk. And don’t board right away. No one is going to take your seat, so there is no reason to hurry.

Bring an empty reusable water bottle with you. You can fill it up at a water fountain once you are inside the terminal. I like the Hydro Flasks because they keep the water cold and they come in cute colors (check out the limited edition Shave Ice collection). That way you don’t have to buy a plastic water bottle in the airport and you can decline all of the plastic cups they give you on the flight. More environmental and healthier to bring your own water bottle.

Noise cancelling Bose headphones. These things are expensive, but they are great.

Compression socks. I got some for myself and everyone in my family. The ones from VIM & VIGR are cute and apparently help prevent the formation of blood clots in the lower legs while flying. My kids won’t wear them (because they still have a sense of style and probably don’t have to worry about deep vein thrombosis yet) but I love them.

Don’t go crazy in the duty free shop just because you are bored. On a recent trip, I decided to spray a healthy amount of Ralph Lauren men’s Polo cologne on myself in duty free. This seemed like a great idea in the moment. Nostalgia in a beautiful dark green bottle. My poor seat mate probably spent the whole trip wondering why I smelled like a frat boy from the ‘80s.

So, please don’t travel any more than absolutely necessary. And, please share your travel hacks so if we do have to travel, we’ll do it in style. Or at least in comfort.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Summer Themes

Every summer, I pick a theme for my kids. My kids are horrified by each and every theme. Usually because they think (correctly) that the theme indicates a perceived gap in their development, according to me. They are insulted that I insist that they devote the entire summer to focusing on fixing their deficiencies.

IMG_5435.JPG

It started with the sugar challenge/salad challenge. My child with a sweet tooth had to go off goodies for the summer and my child who normally only ate white carbs had to eat at least one salad per day. That was brutal.

Then came the summer of responsibility. This involved learning to cook and learning to drive. Where we live, kids get their drivers licenses when they are 14.5 years old, so this was important. And everyone should know how to cook.

Next came the summer of tennis. That was fun.

There were a couple of summers of ACT prep. Nerds rule! #tigermom 🐯

After both kids had been accepted to college, we had the summer of Montana history. This was my first big failure. They literally learned nothing about Montana history.

I must say that all of my themes have been a success, except the summer of Montana history. Both kids had already been admitted to the college of their choice, so I had no leverage. I had visions of us taking family car trips to ghost towns and national parks, singing the state song and happily quizzing each other on state trivia. Who was Jeannette Rankin? Who was Mike Mansfield? None of this came to fruition. The kids went on strike and flatly refused to participate.

Oh well. No worries! Upward and onward. Welcome to the summer of self care! We are eating kale, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do the same. If you do it, let me know how it goes! Also, I hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July! 🇺🇸

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

I hate my hair

IMG_4760.JPG

When I was in my 20s, I loved my hair. It was long and shiny, and the color was pretty. Now that I’m almost 50, I hate my hair. I spend a small fortune on hair care products. I buy Aveda by the boatload because I love the smell. I’ve used their products since I was a freshman in college. Shampure is by far my favorite scent. I also like rosemary mint. The new cherry almond line is gentle and smells okay, but not amazing.

One of the main problems I’ve experienced as I’ve gotten older is that my hair looks like straw. Black straw, if that’s a thing. Aveda’s smooth infusion helps moisturize my hair a bit. I’ve tried Bumble and Bumble and Living Proof, but what really works is Olaplex. For my hair, Olaplex No. 6, is a life saver. And it smells great. The only downside is that the bottle is rather small, and it is spendy.

Here’s a picture of me in London last summer getting my hair adjusted by my daughter, because no matter what I do, it always looks weird. With a lot of effort, I can get it to look okay at home, but when I travel, all bets are off. I’m heading to London again later this summer so I need to get my act together before then. If you have any great hair care products to recommend, please let me know! I love trying new products and I need all the help I can get.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

The Sicilian

Unknown.jpeg

The other day I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time. He asked “are you still married to the Sicilian?” Why yes, yes I am! In fact, we just celebrated our 26th anniversary the other day.

The older I get, the more I appreciate my relationships. I’m so grateful for the Sicilian, our kids, my parents, and my dogs. I’ve got great in-laws (more Sicilians). And, I appreciate my friends, new and old.

I love meeting new people, especially my kids’ friends. I think everyone has an age that they like best. Some people, like my husband and my dad, are great with babies.

Everyone loves toddlers. Because toddlers are adorable.

Not sure who likes middle schoolers.

Me, I like teenagers. Not sure why, other than that they are great. Actually I do know why. Teenagers are so cool but still so sweet. Teenagers are always welcome in my home.

Now that my daughters are both in college, I’m meeting some amazing young adults. Computer scientists, future teachers, artists, and environmentalists. Interesting, smart, young people who are going to save our planet. I can’t wait to see the beautiful future that they build.

I also madly cherish my old friends. My oldest friend and his gorgeous daughter are here this weekend to celebrate his mom’s 80th birthday. He has known me since I was born, so I can truly say I have loved him my whole life. Almost half of a century.

We don’t have that much in common. He’s a 6’2” tall man with a PhD in economics. I’m a 5’0” woman with a JD and a dog blog. His kids are tall, blond Scandinavians. Mine are Sicilian lovelies, who look like marzipan tastes and orange blossoms smell.

Our differences don’t matter though. My friend and I both love stupid 80s music (we are big Bryan Adams and John Cougar Mellencamp fans). We like Oreo cookies with milk. We’ve travelled the world together. When we travel, he has to pay for everything and make all of the plans, and in return, I let him.

Friends are important. Old and new. Even if you only get to see them on social media or every so often in person. I hope you treasure your friends and that you tell them so. It’s important.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

Happy Birthday to Me?

IMG_5282.jpg

Today is my youngest child’s 19th birthday. She has always LOVED her birthday. She usually wants cake, gifts, decorations, friends, family, and a tiara. She loves presents. She loves parties. She has an app that counts down how many days until her next birthday, and she starts it the day after her last birthday. She truly enjoys celebrating her birthday and I love her spirit!

My older daughter likes a more low-key birthday celebration. However, she’s a near-Christmas baby, and we always worried that she would feel overshadowed by Christmas, so we compensated by having several parties for her each year. A family party. A neighborhood party. A friends party. Even though I think she would prefer a small gathering with her favorite food, people, and a few special gifts, she has always been a good sport about the razzle dazzle.

I can’t help but think that all this attention is misdirected. They didn’t do anything. I’m the one who gave birth! It’s really MY birthday! I should be getting the presents, Instagram stories, and cake! I know, I know, in our culture, Mother’s Day is when we celebrate the ones who gave birth. That doesn’t really make sense to me, though. I’m thinking a woman who gives birth to many children deserves many birthday celebrations. Three kids? Three birthdays for the mom!

So, in this spirit, happy birthday to me! I gave birth 19 years ago today, and now all of my kids are adults. Pass ME the frickin cake!

JK. I love my kids and want to celebrate them on their birthdays.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!



Xiao Long Bao

IMG_5049.jpeg

Xiao Long Bao (XLB) are steamed soup dumplings from Shanghai. Inside the dumpling are little cubes of gelatinized broth. When you steam the dumpling, the gelatin melts into a delicious pocket of broth. 

Eating XLB is a bit of an art form. You need both a soup spoon and chopsticks to properly eat XLB. You’ll want to put a mixture of dark vinegar, a tiny bit of ginger if you like ginger, and soy sauce in your soup spoon. In our cooking class at The Hutong, we also added sesame oil and sugar and a bit of chili paste.

Then, take a XLB off the steamer and add it to your soup spoon. Nibble a little hole in the top of the XLB so that some of the steam can escape and some of the vinegar mixture can enter the XLB. Then, slide the whole XLB and the vinegar mixture into your mouth. Some people compare it to eating an oyster shooter. Yum.

XLB are traditionally prepared in a small bamboo or stainless steel steaming basket. XLB are not easy or quick to make, but they are worth it because they are delicious. I consider this an advanced recipe. This website has some good pictures that show you how to pleat the dumplings, which is the hardest part. If you go to Din Tai Fung, the excellent XLB chain restaurant, you can see the XLB being made because they have an open kitchen. Note that Din Tai Fung doesn’t take reservations and I’ve always had to wait, but that’s okay because the chefs make the XLB in a kitchen with a window near the entrance, so you can study how they pleat the dumplings while you wait.

Here’s the recipe (see below). Good luck and happy cooking!

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!

IMG_5099.jpeg
IMG_5100.jpeg

Spring Cleaning

IMG_2016.JPG

It seems that everyone I know is obsessed with spring cleaning ever since Marie Kondo’s new show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuted on Netflix earlier this year. I haven’t seen the show, but I read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when it first came out, and I liked it. According to this article on NPR, thrift stores are overwhelmed as people donate their stuff after watching Netflix's Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  Some people think the KonMarie method (which involves getting rid of things that fail to spark joy, but not before thanking them for their service) is silly but according to this Hufffpost article, the method has deep Shinto roots. This article says “Treasuring what you have; treating the objects you own as not disposable, but valuable, no matter their actual monetary worth; and creating displays so you can value each individual object are all essentially Shinto ways of living.” This approach to possessions appeals to me. Actually everything about tidying up, including light cleaning and deep cleaning, appeals to me. Especially since I’ve got dogs that create a bit of extra housework.

My English Bulldog, Coconut, is adorable. However, she is still a puppy, so she has the occasional accident. I’ve tried several eco-friendly stain and odor removers, which work okay. I love Grove Collaborative and lately, I’ve been buying all of my cleaning supplies there. I’ve tried PAW SENSE’s Waterless Pet Shampoo & Stain and Odor Remover, REAL SIMPLE CLEAN’s Stain & Odor Remover, and COUNTER CULTURE’s Probiotic Air + Fabric Refresh. They all seem to work about the same, but the one from REAL SIMPLE is big and therefore lasts longer, so that’s what I recommend, given that they all seem equally effective.

Despite my efforts to spray my way to a clean home, I still went ahead and had my biannual professional carpet cleaning. Of course, the moment the cleaner left my house, Coconut promptly peed on the carpet. Oh well, that’s the life of a dog mom. Luckily, I’m addicted to cleaning products, so I just wiped it up and sprayed it with my pet stain remover!

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason. If you want to Comment as a Guest, your name is the only required field. Type in your name and your comment, and then click “Comment as Guest” and thank you for engaging!




The Middle Kingdom

IMG_4865.jpeg

In the west, we call this East Asian country “China.” Apparently the word "China" has Persian or possibly Sanskrit origins and was first used by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.

The Chinese have many names for China, but I’m pretty sure the official name is Zhōnghuá, which means Middle Kingdom. Since I am a total Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones nerd, this name appeals to me.

When I get home, I’m strongly considering telling people that “I was visiting the Middle Kingdom,” if they ask where I’ve been. Too pretentious?

We hiked the Mùtiányù section of the Great Wall of China yesterday. According to the Apple Watch, we got 15,000 steps - all vertical.

This is my second trip to Mùtiányù. You can walk or you can take a toboggan, cable car, or chairlift down. I decided to take the chairlift down this time because there was a team of very energetic guys (soccer players, probably, based on their amazing hair) on the toboggans, and they were going dangerously fast. My kids would have enjoyed this, but I was happy to watch from above.

We’ve also visited the Bādálǐng section of the wall in years past. Both Mùtiányù and Bādálǐng are great, but if you are traveling with kids, I would recommend Mùtiányù. It sounds sort of cheesy because of the toboggans, but it’s actually amazing.

Anyway, you simply must visit the Middle Kingdom, and if you go, please send pics from the Great Wall!

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason.

Dim Sum

IMG_4713.jpeg

Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on a small plate with tea. They are kind of like tapas. Dim sum is literally translated to mean “touch the heart” and the associated Cantonese phrase yum cha means “to drink tea.”

I attended a Chinese cooking class at a cooking school called The Hutong here in Beijing a few days ago. I’ve been to this cooking school before in years past, and I highly recommend it. The teacher that I like the best is named Yao. I’m going to her xiao long bao (XLB) class next week.

XLB are soup dumplings. You eat them with a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. Yum. You may have heard of Din Tai Fung, which is one of my favorite restaurants. They are famous for XLB and they have restaurants all over the world. I’ve been to the one in Beijing several times, and the one near Palo Alto. I’m pretty sure they have a Michelin star, which is amazing because Din Tai Fung is a chain restaurant often located in high-end malls. I’ll share the XLB recipe after my class, if it is any good.

Here is the recipe and a photo of the lovely shrimp dumplings that we made at the dim sum class. They were much easier to make than you would think and they were delicious. If you try them, I hope you like them!

Warmly,

IMG_4733.jpg

Empty Nest Obsessed

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason.

Are you rich?

IMG_4590.jpg

When I was in my 20s, I thought I was rich if I could go to the grocery store and buy everything I needed without worrying about whether I had enough money to cover it when I got to the checkout counter. If I didn’t have to do the math every time I put an item in my cart, I felt so rich.

When I was in my 30s, I felt rich if I could buy organic food at the grocery store, and not cringe. Six dollars for eggs? When the “regular eggs” are only two dollars? No problem.

A friend told me that she felt rich when she could afford to buy flowers for herself whenever she wanted, and she always had a tuberose or gardenia scenting her home. I love this idea, but somehow that still feels overindulgent to me. Or perhaps I really just want other people to buy them for me.

Now that I’m in my late 40s, I feel rich because I have a wonderful family, friends, and two sweet dogs. And also because I can get a massage whenever my muscles ache. Well, maybe not every time they ache, because that would be every day and I’m not that rich.

I’m in Beijing now, and Chinese medicinal massages are reasonably priced but they are NOT relaxing. In fact, it is sort of excruciating. You wear flannel pajamas that open in the back, and you are in a room with other people. No new age music, no aromatherapy. In fact, no oils at all. They put a sheet over you for privacy, so they don’t actually touch your skin. The massage therapists often chat with each other or watch TV while they are doing the massage, so it has a very different ambiance than in America. Even the smallest massage therapist seems to have the strength of an army. They knead you like a lump of dough. No mercy if you are flinching or if you are ticklish. They just keep kneading. The legs are the worst. However, the last 15 minutes seems to be reserved for the head. They give you the most amazing scalp massage. It is invigorating and administered with absolutely no concern for your hair-do. After the head massage, they offer to clean your ears with what looks like a long metal probe, but I think might be an ear candle. I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet. But I am interested. I’ll let you know if I try it.

A loud alarm goes off to let you know when your hour is up. When they are done, they give you some green tea and some fruit (so far I’ve been offered cherry tomatoes, honeydew, and watermelon). You sit there rejuvenated, with your wild hair, munching on tomatoes, feeling like a million bucks. In my book these days, that’s rich! I would love to know what makes you feel rich.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed 🐾

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason.



Asian Don't Raisin

IMG_4297.jpg

Have your heard the saying “Asian don’t raisin”?  I have, and since I’m Eurasian and almost 50 (I’m between Sandra Oh and Lucy Liu in age, both of whom still look amazing), I’m terrified that I’ll be the first Asian on the planet to prematurely raisin. According to an article I read in AARP (gasp! sob!), one reason that Asians tend to look younger longer is that we have a wider bone structure than Caucasians, so our faces continue to look full and youthful as we age. 

As one HuffPost article says “Know what’s more effective than indulgent moisturizers and expensive serums? Being Asian.” I would feel reassured by this, except that I’m mixed race, so I live in fear that my Caucasian genes will prevail and I will crumple into petrified wood the moment I turn 50.

Because I can’t count on being Asian to stave off turning into driftwood/dried fruit, I have to rely on indulgent moisturizers and expensive serums. I am writing this post while lying in bed marinating in Egyptian Magic, which I buy in bulk from Costco. When I’m not basting myself in Egyptian Magic, I sleep smothered in Aquaphor, which I buy in 14 ounce tubs that I place strategically around my house, car, and office.  I rub some of the extra goop in my hair because it if it works and my face stays nice and plump and young-ish looking, I’d hate to have my hair give me away. Greasy? Yes. Who cares. If I manage to postpone turning into a raisin for a few more years, it will all be worth it!  Egyptian Magic absorbs better but is more expensive. Aquaphor is thicker and cheaper. I recommend using Egyptian Magic on your face and neck (and hair if you don’t mind waking up looking like the walking dead) and Aquaphor on your feet and lower legs - slather it on and sleep in some cheap cotton knee socks. I also like Weleda Skin Food. It smells nice and is a natural plant blend formula. However it isn’t sold everywhere so I don’t use it that regularly. Wish me luck, but if I look like a dried apple next time you see me, please don’t say anything.

Warmly,

Empty Nest Obsessed

Disclaimer: I love to try new products. I’m particularly interested in eco-friendly household cleaning products and I’m obsessed with anti-aging skin and hair care products. If I find something that works for me, I’ll let you know! Please note that I am not being paid (yet!) for any of my product recommendations. It that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

Comments Policy: Empty Nest Obsessed is a lifestyle blog meant to encourage, inspire, and support you as you navigate your own empty nest. In order to keep the tone positive, I reserve the right to moderate, edit, or delete any comments on Empty Nest Obsessed’s website or social media accounts that are negative, abusive, off-topic, or for any other reason.