Orange Spice Banana Bread

I don’t know how long it has been since I have posted a recipe here on daxiang but here is a quick bread recipe that I modified to include some seasonal spices and ingredients (adapted from this recipe from Running With Spoons).

Yields: 1 loaf

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
½ tsp. sea salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 large, ripe banana
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter your loaf pan.
2) Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl and stir to blend evenly.
3) Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
4) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stir to combine.
5) Once it is mixed in well, pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 mins.

感激 (Thankful)

I really love these copper wire LED fairy lights

A photo posted by @astromei on

2015, like most of the recent years in my life, has flown by. Although the Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday, we had Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. Because of that, I feel like I have a lot of time before Christmas and the New Year rolls around. A good head start. Maybe we should move Thanksgiving up every year!

I think that the additional time (at least in my mind) is good for us since this is the start of Sagan’s true love with Christmas. He is going to soak up every bit of it, I can tell. We have a stuffed elf on the shelf, his Advent calendar is waiting for him and we even have plans to go cut down our own tree since we live out where the tree farms are. We’ll see, I might get distracted by the cider and ask for help instead.

Whoa whoa, I know what you are thinking – stop it, Stef, we are not yet even eating our Thanksgiving meals yet! Alright, I’ll refrain :)

Here are a couple of November favorites:

Story Corps app – I plan to make recordings with my mum, Mike and Sagan. Now we can record on our phones and have it archived for the future.

You know that I do Southern cooking. This podcast has been keeping my belly hungry for it. The recent episode has me adding a soul food restaurant in LA on my Yelp bookmarks.

This year, I made my favorite Thanksgiving dish again (3 years and counting) – Ina Garten’s Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding. So flavorful. Gruyere is one of my favorite cheeses.

Current favorite cocktail: Ginger Whiskey

And something to make the holiday more meaningful: The Thanksgiving Reader

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” Hansa Proverb

Fall Eats

I made an easy and tasty tomato soup in the Vitamix. Really quick.  And for an accompaniment – Pull-Apart Cheese Bread. Instead of melted butter, I used bacon fat. Uh, YUM!

If you are in Seattle, please stop by Dough Country at Pike’s Place. Szechuan style flatbread sandwiches. Flatbread made on the spot and a great variety of fillings (meat and veggies or just veggies)

Mike made clam chowder from American Classics. Our favorite, most used cookbook.

And of course, Butternut Squash soup with Italian Sausage. We make something similar, with a lot more sausage.

I need to be better with my photos.

Home from travels

I have been away from home for the last 2 weeks, one week in Vegas for work and the next week in Portland and the Oregon coast. It was good to spend some time away from the office as work has recently been weighing on me. I am trying hard to avoid a burn-out. From previous experience, burn-outs are no fun, to say the least!

My time at the work conference was ironically inspiring. I love the product that I support and work with, it’s always good to bond with likeminded people. What I enjoyed even more was the company of my coworkers as well as a very inspiring talk by Sal Khan, found of Khan Academy. I’ve been trained in Arts and Social Sciences all my life, but now I feel there is a chance for me to learn about physics, chemistry and astronomy!

Even while traveling, I tried to keep up with my meditative practice. I think that it has kept me sane thus far.

The time on the Oregon Coast was short but it was just a joy to see S run all over the beach, chasing gulls, picking up shells and running through frigid waves.

What a beautiful day! #pdx2015

A photo posted by @astromei on

Here are some of my recent favorites:
Gnocchi with any kind of sauce – creamy crab parmesan sauce last week and bacon arrabbiata last night
Pear Cider – any brand
Lush’s The Comforter Shower Cream – berries, bergamot and vanilla, need I say more?
Rimmel Oh My Gloss in Snog – not sticky, smells good, lovely pigments
1940s big band music
The Martian – I saw the movie this week and I am going to start reading the book tonight!

There is a trip to the pumpkin patch in the books and more fall loves. Stay tuned!

Suddenly Fall

It’s suddenly fall here in the PNW. I imagined that the transition would be slower but it just became. I’m not complaining. I can smell the warm spices, feel the cool air in the evenings and see the beautiful changing colors. I said it before but I’ll say it again, this is my favorite time of the year!

Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.” – from You Got Mail

Dreamy. Stationery in a romantic fashion. It’s time to watch this movie again. Do you have a favorite movie for this time of the year?

This morning, I had one of those green chile chicken tamales and I wanted to whisk my family off to New Mexico for some green chile goodness. I want this.

I feel like I’m floating on a cloud this morning. A happy one even though works has been increasingly busy and stress-filled. I think it’s partly to do with my meditative practice, I really cannot expound the benefits of it more. 10-15 minutes of my day for clarity.

This animation from Headspace about the blue sky has been one that has helped me through some foggy days lately.

As for other fall loves, I’m not a fan of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes but am glad they arrive to announce the season. I also think that one can over-“pumpkin spice”. I look forward to jumping in leave piles with Sagan, holding Mike’s hand to feel warmer in the cold and snuggling up with a throw on our sofa to binge watch Downton Abbey (I have not been up to speed with the episodes) or the Star Wars trilogy (the ones that only really count).


If you have heard about the new organization movement (KonMari) by Marie Kondo, you would understand the title of my post. My main take from her method is that you would want to only keep or obtain things that spark joy in your life.

Everyone, these are my current sparks:

Borns – I love 10,000 Emerald Pools and of course, Electric Love. But one of my favorites is Seeing Stars and his new single (The Emotion) from the upcoming album (Oct 16), Dopamine, has been on repeat.

Cassava Tortillas made with cassava flour (not the same as tapioca starch which is more chewy and gummy). Grain-free, gluten-free and nut-free. Amazing texture.

Journal prompts
– I wake up and write down 3 things that I am grateful for, ask myself how I am feeling and at the end of the day, write down my favorite part of the day.

Boxing – Mike installed the heavy bag he got me a few years ago in the garage and I am going to put on these pretty pink gloves and show it who’s boss. Ha! Really, I’m starting slow at a moderate pace. Three to Four 2-minute rounds of basic punches, such as jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, with one minute rest in between rounds.

I finally completed my 30-day foundation course with Headspace and have recently begun a new pack. This has helped me so much.

What are your current sparks?

Summer-Fall Favorites

I have been loving green smoothies lately. My favorite recipes include spinach, ginger, pear and coconut water. When I want something creamier, I add a couple of spoons of dried milk powder (full fat, of course!). It gives me protein without the fake sweetness of protein powders. This is the one that I use.

I recently found out that I am sensitive to gluten. Not so sensitive that I would be sick eating it but enough so that my gut would be bloated and inflamed. I love gluten, but am thankful to live in an age where gluten-free is widely available.

I did mention loving The Mind of a Chef (PBS) on Netflix. The episodes in Season 3 with Magnus Nilsson most intrigued me. I have to try a Mahogany Clam in this lifetime.

The mornings are a little darker now and the evenings a little cooler. I’m thinking about spiced cake, warming soups and snuggly evenings.

Currently soundtrack: Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack (it’s getting to be about that time of the year when we re-watch the trilogy) – particularly Concerning Hobbits :-)


“Always wanting things to be different is exhausting…” – Headspace moment

There is much truth in this line. For as much as we always want things to be different, we sure don’t do well with change. But is it possible to learn to accept change as a matter-of-fact and ease into things that happen, as they happen? I know that I am going on about my meditative practice a lot lately but it has amazed me how much difference it has made in my life in just 21 days (so far). Stealing 10 minutes out of everyday for oneself sounded like it would be impossible when I first started out. I cannot tell you how much times I tried to begin the free 10-day Headspace trial but once I pushed through day 6, I felt like I could continue. If you ever feel like anxiety is taking over your life, Headspace is a good method of meditating that is very accessible. 

It has been a while since I have traveled to a new place. I miss that sense of adventure. I guess I was born with wanderlust in my soul. 

I also find it ironic that in my 40s, I have become sort of a beauty junkie (thank you lovely beauty vloggers of the world!). I find that my interest is less about the many shades of lipstick or eyeshadow but more about how I can take care of my skin. My one and only face. Finding the right skincare has been a fun journey and like most journeys, it often is not about the destination. My skin’s needs change and I am just along for the ride. With that said, I am loving cleansing balm/oil, AHA pads and facial oils instead of creams. 

Would like to leave you with a quick simple recipe for my favorite dessert – strawberry chia seed pudding. It’s more of a jam and I eat it on its own like a fruit “jello cup”. I heat up a pound of strawberries (frozen ones will work too), smush them with a potato masher, add some honey (1-2 tbsp depending on how sweet your berries are) then take them off the heat. Once off the heat, sprinkle 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds and stir in. Set it aside to cool and thicken. Sometimes I add more chia seeds because I like their texture. I pop the cooled mixture in little containers in the fridge. I love it for breakfast too.


Lately, almost everyone I meet is reminding me to enjoy the rest of summer; that pretty soon, we will miss these long sun-filled days. Honestly, I am ready for the cool evenings of fall. Is it possible to be sunned-out? I guess having spent 20-something years of my life in a tropical isle with endless sunshine has made me an autumn lover. Still, my meditative practice reminds me that I should embrace life as it unfolds. So, summer, I’m happy you are still here!

I have a few more things that I would like to do this summer:

  • Go for a hike
  • Pack a picnic in a park
  • Go to Portland for some gastronomic adventure that includes ice cream and Thai food

In the meantime, Sagan is spending a week away from preschool while his Mimi is here. He is definitely enjoying his summer. I hope he makes all sorts of wonderful memories that we can revisit when he grows up.

Here he is, exhausted from a fun day exploring science.





My birthday came and went. There was no fanfare but it was a good one. I feel like I’m in a good place in my life right now. My recovery journey is underway and everything is going well.

Part of my recovery has been starting a meditation practice. I am using this app called Headspace and have stuck with it for 9 days now. Just taking the time to quieten the mind does wonders for my mood. You can try it out for 10 days free and see how it goes. I tried to start my practice several times for months now but once I pushed through Day 3, I started looking forward to each day’s session. As soon as I felt that way, I subscribed to a year’s membership. A good investment for my mental well-being.

I am still listening to my favorite podcasts (see previous posts) but I found a new one called Gastropod. I enjoyed an episode yesterday called The Whole Hog. The pig is indeed a fascinating animal. Continue reading Birthday