22 February 2011

Why? Because. There I said it.

My six-year-old daughter has taken to asking 'Why?' in response to everything I ask of her. I happily suffered through the why stage with her a couple of years back when the question was posed to learn more about her world. Now, however, I am certain the reflex-forced 'Why?' punctuates her sentences purely as a means to annoy me. Okay, I'm not certain about that, but...

When that 'why' flies out of her mouth all I really want to say is "BECAUSE!" but that's just too cliche and I can't bring myself to settle for that answer (although, it is intriguing). So, after mentally whittling my list of possible comebacks, I have come up with two viable options. A) I can either get crabby and annoyed and then spend the rest of my day miserable. Or, B) I can come up with the most absurd comeback possible, force a laugh out of her and possibly lure a smile out of myself in the process.

I'm happy to report that option B has been tried and tested. Preparing for an outing, I asked her to fill up her water bottle. The inevitable, fast as bullets "Why?" shot out of her mouth and assaulted my ears. I took a breath and responded "Because if you don't, you will get thirsty on our outing, your mouth will feel like cotton balls and you may think we are in the dessert. And, the problem with the dessert is that there is very little water to go around. So, then we'd need to find a camel to carry us across the sands and hopefully somewhere during that ride we would find some water. I really think it would be easier to just fill the bottle now and we can be on our way." Problem solved.

So, Loving Rice readers, when you hear that I've been testing horrific chip flavors, please don't ask 'why'. Instead, together, let's embrace the absurdity that is a blueberry and hazelnut flavored potato chip.

A few posts back, I mentioned that a potato chip company has been stocking Bangkok grocers shelves with some odd flavors. And, in a comment I said I couldn't bring myself to give them a try. A reader threw down a challenge via email and the next day I was out buying four tins of oddly flavored potato chips in order to provide the following information. (Information that will prove insanely helpful if you are ever struck with an urge to come to Bangkok and grab a tin of chips. Otherwise, consider it a virtual romp for your taste buds and thank your lucky stars you never applied one of these little cardboard textured, horridly flavored wonders to your palette.)

My general advice after tasting Bangkok Grilled Chicken Wing, Soft-shell Crab, Lemon & Sesame and Blueberry & Hazelnut? Skip them all. Bangkok Grilled Chicken Wing was the only one that I could actually eat more than one of. It tasted like a potato chip covered in the ramen noodle seasoning packets. Not tasty, but choke down able. The Blueberry & Hazelnut was by far the oddest of sensations. I can't compare it to any actual food item I've ever tasted before. All I could think about was the scent of one of my childhood toys-- the blueberry scented character from my strawberry shortcake doll collection. I felt like I was eating that scent. Lemon Sesame was another odd sensation, hitting my tongue with a blast of fake lemon flavor that was followed with the typical potato flavor. And, finally, Soft-shell Crab. This one blew me away. The odor coming out of that can was unbelievable and the taste had me running for glass after glass of water. The single bite I managed to taste conjured up images of putting a long dead and rotting fish in my mouth and squishing it around for a bit. Horrid.

And, what about my 'why' asking six year old? She tasted alongside me and absolutely devoured the tin of Soft-shell Crab. And, not once, ever pausing to ask why such a flavor was even created in the first place.

*By the way, this is an ad-free blog and this post, like all of my other posts, is not affiliated with any endorsement or paid review. I'm purely having fun investigating all that Bangkok's grocery shelves have to offer. The opinions expressed are entirely my own and I encourage you to do a taste test as well!

11 February 2011

Wrapped in a mama hug

I really want to just throw my hands up to the sky and scream in frustration. I've been away from this blog and missing in action as I've been dealing with a household of illnesses. Ever since moving to Bangkok, it seems that our family gets one big nasty bout of some weird illness each year. Two years ago, it was mercury poisoning. Last year, it was the H1N1 flu. And, this year we have been coping with a triple threat. A back-to-back-to-back virus starting as intense non-stop coughing, followed rapidly by a fairly ordinary head cold and then a not-so-swift kick of a flu.

My four-year-old is still suffering through the final phase of the flu and my newborn seems to be catching his first cold, but the rest of us seem to be well on the path to recovery. At one point, while drinking tea, downing vitamin C tablets and moaning out loud, I really wondered if we'd ever be healthy again. I know, dramatic. But when you feel as crummy as we have, for as long as we have, you start to lose touch with your normally undramatic self.

But, this year, one thing was different. For when the illness struck our house, my kids were armed with their new 'curl up in when you're sick and maybe feel a bit better' mama hug quilts.

For some time, a pile of too small, but much adored clothes had been stacking up in my kid's closets. They were the special items they didn't want to part with. "But, mama, this is what I wore when I had ice cream for the first time in Bangkok!" or "But, mama, this is what I was wearing when I did apple bobbing outside on the patio in that hot sun on Halloween that year!" The protests continued, the clothing stayed neatly stacked and I devised a plan.

Working late at night, all of the clothes got cut, stitched and sewn into two quilts. My sewing machine is still in deep storage in the States, so I've spent late nights on and off for the last year hand stitching one seam at a time. And, I finished them up in time to wrap them up as Christmas presents this recent holiday season. My kids oohed and ahhed and dubbed them the Mama Hug Quilts.

The quilts are far from perfect as I am a project sewer. You know the type-- someone who randomly says, "I bet I could make that!" and finds the fabric and jumps in without a pattern to create something somewhat like what they started out to create... strong emphasis on the somewhat. Their mama hug quilts sport uneven stitches, puckering here and there, wonky and oddly sized crazy squares, and no quilting in between the layers!* But, what they do sport are several years of memories for my two oldest children.

So, when the illness hit our house and my son looked at me with those miserably dark, puffy sick eyes and said, "I need to curl up in my Mama Hug Quilt," all of my many late nights spent getting frustrated with my lack of perfect stitches were instantly worth it.

*The only thing that really dampened my creative spirits on this project was my lack of ability in finding quilt batting. I searched high and low throughout Bangkok for the stuff. And, just as I was about to give up, sometime around last April, a friend called while shopping at CentralWorld and said she found a store that sells it (everyone knew I was looking for quilt batting!). I told myself that I'd go buy enough for both quilts as soon as the protests that were underway in the city calmed down a bit. If you're a reader of this blog, you know that things didn't calm down and CentralWorld (and my quilt batting source!) were set aflame. So, I gathered up my almost completed quilts and thought... so they become blankets instead.... and there ends the tragic story of my unquilted 'quilts'.