London – South Bank

23 December 2016

Dear friends, 

We spent the Christmas weekend in London with D’s parents (F’s Popo and Gonggong). It was a much needed respite from the craziness of the last 3 weeks.

We love visiting the South Bank in London. It has a great mix of activities for all ages and is just far enough off the tourist track to be fairly low density. Plus, it has a high density of bridges to cross back and forth for many new views of the north and south banks of the River Thames.

The Winter Festival was a great place to imbibe the festive atmosphere (albeit windy and nippy). The absolute best bits were the diverse food stalls, ranging from German, Indian, Italian, Moroccan, to Swedish.

Garlic pizza bread

F had yummy garlic pizza bread, P couldn’t resist the pulled pork bun, and I succumbed to the aroma of the grilled lamb from the Middle Eastern stall while waiting for F’s pizza to emerge from its clay oven.

Deconstructed lamb kebab

While all the food was pretty good, my choice of a deconstructed lamb kebab, where the wrap itself was replaced by chips, was deemed the top choice. The spices were warming, and the deconstructed wrap ingredients in a box was far less messy to eat than the usual falling-apart package.

P with fellow large hooter Gonk

D with Gonk and wind blown glove

The wind defeated our desire to further explore the festive market, and into the Festival Theatre, where we enjoyed a fabulous big band performance and ballroom dancing.

Big Band and ballroom dancing

Sufficiently fed and entertained, we headed back on F’s new favourite Tubilee (Jubilee) line via Waterloo station.

Enjoying Christmas carols by the Salvation Army

More on some late night shopping on Christmas Eve and more London stories to come…





Lalaland to Scotland

Dear friends, 

A decade ago, we blogged our move from Edinburgh to Los Angeles. Now, we’re doing the reverse. 

While the science during our sojourn in LA was fantastic, it was a struggle to get the financial support needed to keep the whole enterprise going. 

In the end, a sacrifice of our way of life in LA was necessary to keep our family unit together.

So we’re taking a break in Scotland until we embark on our next adventure. 

Many new stories to come. Stay tuned! 




4th of July Mess

4th of July Mess by framboise
4th of July Mess, a photo by framboise on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Our now traditional 4th of July version of the Eton Mess, recipe (Red, White and Blue Dessert) from Maki of Just Hungry. It is amazing in taste and prettiness, and can be assembled on arrival to prevent over-sogginess of the ginger snaps and meringues.

Our version of Maki’s fabulous recipe (with home made star biscuits and meringues!) is the lazy person’s way to pot luck the 4th of July, although I usually make up for it by hand whipping the cream. Triple ginger snaps and vanilla meringues from Trader Joe’s. Strawberries marinated overnight in vinegar (usually rice since that’s all what we stock in our cupboards) and a spoon of sugar. Blueberries and everything else just folded in after the cream is whipped (use heavy cream if in US; that "whipping cream" is false advertising…).

Happy Birthday, my pooch!

Kirin chillin' by framboise
Kirin chillin’, a photo by framboise on Flickr.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday in the US, and hence Kirin’s unofficial birthday. We first met her on our way to our friends’ annual Super Bowl party, and 2 days later, she came to us as her forever parents. We don’t know her real birthday, why she was abandoned not just once, but twice, or why she’s so scared of fireworks. But she’s our favourite dog and it’s her birthday today, so Happy Birthday KiKi!

Spiced coffee

I have to confess to a certain Trader Joe’s Winter addiction. No, it’s not the peppermint Joe-Joes, although they are so good that I had to ban their purchase this year. Nor is it the countless varieties of salted caramel sweeties.

It is, in fact, their Gingerbread coffee.

Gingerbread Coffee

Gingerbread Coffee

P and I love the stuff! It has just enough of a hint of spice to make it festive, and amuse la bouche. The coffee itself is probably not their best, and the fact that it’s pre-ground means that the clock is ticking as soon as we crack open the foil top.

But it is tasty! Just a spot of milk makes it the perfect start to even dull mornings1 The only problem with the Gingerbread coffee is that it’s only available around the Christmas season. I’m sure that’s a good thing, marketing-wise. After all, if we had it all year round, then there wouldn’t be a rush to grab as many cans off the shelf come the season.

But sometimes, on crappy days, you just want some spiced coffee to make the morning go by faster. And sprinkling on a variety of spices into the coffee doesn’t seem to do the trick, or at least we haven’t found the right mix yet.

Not to worry! I serendipitously found the solution to my Gingerbread coffee craving when I cooled my morning coffee with last night’s leftover ruby chai tea. Ratio: 2/3 coffee to 1/3 chai. Splash of milk, and good to go!

Spiced coffee and tea
Spiced coffee and tea

1 Yes, even sunny LA gets the occasional dull gray day in winter. And every single day in May, June and July.


Random Photo Tuesday, reinstated as my 2013 lunar new year resolution.

Fin, P and a bunch of penguins watched each other for a good 10 min one Sunday afternoon. Apart from playing with water, cloud dough and watching Pocoyo, I’ve never seen Fin so enthralled by something for so long.

Then he went a blew that record by watching a bunch of sharks for 15 min!

Incidentally, he’s in that ridiculous* one-piece suit because that’s his emergency change of clothes. Fin christened his car seat with his first ever double chunder shortly after arriving in Long Beach, just after getting off the windy, bumpy 710 freeway.

* Ridiculous because it was like 30C (90+F) in the shade that weekend due to the regular “freak” Santa Ana winds that turn LA into Death Valley.

Jump into 2013

Happy 2013!

Not being organised enough to send out a family photo for Christmas, we decided that the New Year was an equally good reason to send out greetings. So we choreographed a mini video and photo shoot largely in the following fashion:

[Estimated transcript, circa Boxing Day 2012]
D: Let’s take a photo to send out in an New Year greeting email since we didn’t send out a photo of Fin for Christmas.
P: [nothing]

[Morning of intended photo shoot, with 1 day to go before the end of 2012]
D: Let’s go to the airport park and make a jumping video.
P: [nothing]
D: Wake up! Let’s go to the park!
P: [rolled over in bed]

[Several hours into the day, nearly noon]
D: We can get a bento from Marukai if you wake up now and drive us to the airport park. And Fin can take his new dump truck.
P: [nothing]
F: Arrrrgh! [manic screams, cooped up for too long in the apartment]
P: [stirs from bed, grumbles his way to bathroom]
D+F: [playing to stave off meltdown]

And some time after, with many more distractions and false starts, we end up at the park and make various stabs at taking videos and photos without the aid of a tripod. Fortunately, that dump truck came in handy. 😀

Happy New Year!

Jump into 2013 a video by framboise on Flickr.