Monday, April 27, 2009

Toberman House visit

Toberman Neighborhood Center ( is a non-profit, multi-purpose neighborhood center that provides various social service programs to low-income individuals and families living in the South Bay, moving them from poverty to self-sufficiency. One day last December, my daughter's girl scout troop provided and served dinners to 120 kids and adults who were at the Toberman House at the time. Most kids were there for after school activities. My daughter didn't get a chance to go because we were in Taiwan at the time. A month ago, our troop leader informed us that we were invited back to the Toberman House, as part of a Grade 7 Girl Scout troop who will be there serving food at the House. We are in charge of providing side dishes (vegetables, breads, salads, potatoes). As the theme was Italian night, I tried to figure out what would be the appropriate side dish for my daughter to bring to the Toberman House today. I thought Garlic Bread can be a good side dish to Italian food, so I went to and found a great Garlic Bread recipe (

So I went to Sam's Club this morning and got all the ingredients I need to make enough Garlic Bread for 120 people. As I was browsing down the aisles for the ingredients I need (Italian loafs, garlic, butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and parsley flakes), I saw Pepperidge Farm's Texas Garlic Toasts. I thought to myself, this would be far easier than to make the garlic bread from scratch, and not necessarily more expensive either. At 32 slices, each box sells for $7.06. I immediately bought 4 boxes and we are all set for today.

今天女兒的女童子軍團要去 Toberman House ( 的餐廳服務。每一位女童子軍要負責帶一道菜和幫忙端菜。去年十二月中旬, 女兒的女童子軍團已經去過一次, 但是我們剛好回臺灣, 所以沒能跟著去, 只有買了幾盤冷凍的義大利寬麵請同團的媽媽烘烤後帶去。這一次女兒的女童子軍團是要跟著兩團七年級的女童子軍一起去 Toberman House 的餐廳服務。我們要負責帶附菜(青菜、沙拉、馬鈴薯)之類的菜。我想了好久, 決定帶蒜蓉麵包。還上網 ( 查看了蒜蓉麵包的做法。今天一早送了小孩上學之後, 馬上開車到 Sam's Club 買做蒜蓉麵包的材料 (義式麵包、蒜頭、帕瑪森奶酪、奶油及歐芹粉)。逛著逛著卻看到了Pepperidge Farm 的德州蒜頭土司 Texas Garlic Toasts . 一小箱三十二片才 $7.06, 比自己買麵包來做還便宜。所以當下就買了四盒回家,省了我不少時間!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The American Girl Store 美國女孩娃娃專賣店

My friend Kristin and her family is spending their spring break holiday in southern California. She lives in Hawaii, but her extended family still live in Taiwan. Anyways, last week, we met them at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and my kids had a great time playing with her kids. So as they are going home tomorrow, we decided to meet again. This time, we decided to meet at the Grove ( It's an outdoor mall with many one-and-only stores in Los Angeles. Since Kristin and I have daughters, we decided that the American Girl Store is a must visit. I took my daughter to the American Girl Store in New York City last summer and the impact on her then wasn't as much as this visit. It was visible that during our visit today that all three girls had a look of envy and desire on their faces because every girl at the store had a American Girl doll in their arms. Our girls were the only ones without a doll.

The American Girl enterprise ( and the American Girl stores ( are a quintessential American experience for American girls. Wikipedia has a good writeup on the American Girl company []. I think the key to the company's success is their series of American Girls books that are well-written and are based on pre-teen girl characters from various periods of American history.

Kaya, a native American girl (1764)
Felicity, a colonial girl (1774)
Josefina, a Mexican girl living in the States (1824)
Kirsten, a Swedish immigrant (1854)
Addy Walker, a fugitive slave (1864)
Samantha, an Edwardian/Victorian girl (1904)
Kit, a depression-era girl (1934)
Molly, a girl who lived through World War II (1944)

There are many more character dolls who are friends of these history-based American Girl dolls, as well as a new Julie doll for 1974. On top of the dolls from the American Girl book series, Mattel also introduced the Girl of the Year dolls and "Just Like You" dolls.

The reading levels of these books are for 8 year olds (grade 2 or grade 3). When the girls read these books, they will get a sense of what girls their age experienced at different points in time that are important in American history. When Mattel bought the American Girl franchise in 1998, it expanded it's product line and established its flagship store in Chicago. With Mattel's huge marketing machine behind the American Girl brand, the American Girl doll has become the most "desirable" doll for the well-to-do segment of our society. At $95 plus tax for each doll, the price tag is staggering!
Although we left the American Girl Store without buying anything (to the chagrin of our daughters), it hasn't stopped the other patrons from shopping and enjoying the amenities at the store. There is a theater, a dining room (for the public as well as for private birthday parties), and a hair salon for your American Girl doll. Despite our reluctance to part with our money at the store, I must say that "shopping" at the American Girl Store is a pleasant one. The store is clean, bright, spacious, and colorful.

I am sure it was hard for our daughters to walk out of the store without buying a thing. Kristin and I have daughters who don't really play with dolls, so it's hard to justify spending US$95 for a doll and US$25 for each additional outfit when they will only spend a little time playing with it. It's more a status symbol than anything else to own an American Girl doll. The key is how to say no to those cute little face without ruining their self-esteem (and that's a subject for another day)! The photo above has the Julie doll (1974) and her best friend, Ivy.

好友 Kristin 帶小孩從夏威夷到南加州來度假。 Kristin 是我在臺灣工作時認識的朋友。想當年我們都是單身貴族, 而如今我們卻是兒女成群的媽媽。難得有機會再見面,所以大家都很開心。再加上兩家的小孩子都相處得不錯, 所以我們決定這星期再見一次面。上星期天我們跑到 Costa Mesa 的 South Coast Plaza 見面。只可惜我們太早離開那個購物中心, 要不然搞不好就能看到賈靜雯一家在那裏逛街。這星期我們決定到 Beverly Hills 比佛利山莊附近的一個購物中心 The Grove ( 見面, 最主要是這個購物中心有幾家別的購物中心沒有的店, 例如 美國女孩娃娃專賣店 (The American Girl Store)。

去年暑假我們到紐約玩時, 就曾經去過那裏的美國女孩娃娃專賣店 (The American Girl Store)。 那時候我女兒還沒有表現出她很想要個美國女孩娃娃的樣子。這一回來到了自家附近的美國女孩娃娃專賣店 (The American Girl Store), 她則向我告白說她很想要個美國女孩娃娃。我告訴她說她是可以買, 不過得用自己的錢買。但是因為 Kristin 阿姨不準備買美國女孩娃娃給她的兩個女兒, 女兒今天也不能買。我順便告訴女兒, Kristin 阿姨很有錢,可是她也不會亂花錢。我是要女兒瞭解花一、二百元買個大陸做的娃娃是個不明之舉。說真的, 她也沒啥時間可以玩娃娃。再加上也沒人可以陪她玩。我說家裏已經買了不少洋娃娃給她了, 其實她可以學著做漂亮的衣服給娃娃穿。這樣會比較好玩。她乖乖的聽我把話說完, 也沒表示什麼意見, 不知道她聽進去沒有。八成是沒有, 但是家長該給力時還是要給。到年底, 女兒如果還是堅持要用自己的錢買美國女孩娃娃的話,再說喽。

回到美國女孩娃娃專賣店 (The American Girl Store), 店裏的裝潢非常雅致, 以紅白色係為主。 明尼蘇達州 Javabn 的部落格就有明尼蘇達分店裏的照片 (。每家分店的內部飾都很類似。人在裏面就會有衝動想買個娃娃回家做紀念。要不是一個基本十八吋的娃娃要美金九十五元(稅外加), 然後一套娃娃衣服也要美金二十五元, 我真的就會買個娃娃回家做傳家之寶。店裏賣的東西實在是太貴了。

我們在店裏看到許多小女孩到那裏開派對。派對的最低消費一人要 US$32 (稅和小費外加) 至 US$65不等。不要在那裏開派對, 也可以在那裏用餐 (一人費用: 中餐 US$22 、下午茶 US$20 、晚餐 US$24, 外加稅和小費)。真的是高檔消費! 除了在店裏買東西、開生日派對及用餐之外, 小女孩也可以在店裏拍照,然後就可以擁有一本由自己做封面女孩的 American Girl Magazine。女兒七歲生日時, 她姑姑特別訂了兩年的 American Girl Magazine 給她做生日禮物。女兒很喜歡。她其實會很想上 American Girl Magazine 的封面。說真的, 我也不知道怎樣才能讓她有機會上 American Girl Magazine 的封面。至少要等她的牙齒都矯正完畢吧! 小女孩的明星夢真的是久無止盡的! 這店裏最好玩的部門是娃娃美容院。如果小女孩的美國女孩娃娃有一頭亂髮, 她可以送娃娃去娃娃美容院做頭髮。做一種髮型要 US$10 至 US$20 。娃娃如果要穿耳洞, 要花 US$14 (包括三副耳環)。這一切都是虛擬的娃娃世界,可是好逼真喔!

Kaya (1764) 印地安女孩
Felicity (1774) 美國革命/美國殖民時代
Josefina (1824) 墨西哥人在德州
Kirsten (1854) 十九世紀移民潮
Addy Walker (1864) 奴隸制度時代
Samantha (1904) 英王愛德華時代
Kit (1934) 1929 年開始於美國的大蕭條
Molly (1944) 第二次世界大戰
Julie (1974) 越


Meet the [美國女孩娃娃的名字] “認識她”
[美國女孩娃娃的名字] Learns the Lesson “從經驗中獲取教訓”
[美國女孩娃娃的名字]'s Surprise “她的驚奇”
Happy Birthday, [美國女孩娃娃的名字]! “生日快樂!”
[美國女孩娃娃的名字] Saves the Day “最後關頭取得勝利[成功]”
Changes for [美國女孩娃娃的名字] “變化”

Friday, April 17, 2009

最快的早餐 The quickest breakfast

I usually wake up at 7:30 am in the morning. I have 45 minutes to pack lunches for 2 kids, prepare their breakfasts, and get them dressed and out the door before 8:20 am. But if I stay in bed a bit longer, I won't have time to make their lunches. If that's the case, I would make their lunches after I come home from dropping them off and then drive back to the school again before 10:15 am to deposit their lunches bags. This way, they would have things to eat as well during their recess break, which normally starts at 10:15 am for lower grades.

I was happy to find Jimmy Dean's Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick ($7.88) at Sam's Club a few weeks ago. All I have to do to make this is to wrap the pancake & sausage stick (from frozen) in a paper towel, then put it in the microwave and zap it for 1 minute (I can do two sticks at a time). I was elated when I found out that my kids are willing to eat it for breakfast. It would have been nice if they could eat this everyday, but my kids don't like to repeat food items, so I'm lucky if I can serve this once a week.

I have even packed this item for lunch once. The Pancake & Sausage stick stays soft and moist even after being microwaved for 1 minute and cools down later. I did wrap it in a paper towel to prevent drying out in the lunch bag.

Although I bought this at a Sam's Club, I'm sure other grocery stores carry this item, probably with lower counts per box. I would recommend this Pancake & Sausage stick as a regular freezer item.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

婚姻與網際網路 Marriage and Internet

My favorite TV show is a Taiwanese Show called News Wa Wa Wah. I watch it everyday on Youtube thanks to Frank, who uploads many Taiwanese shows on his "fengshuimaster0" channel. Two days ago, Frank posted that his father had gotten ill suddenly, so he wouldn't be able to upload more videos until his father gets better, probably in a week or two. All the subscribers wished his father well and waited patiently for Frank's return. Then a day ago, Frank posted another message saying that he will no longer upload anymore videos on his Youtube channel and we should email him for the new channel name. We were all stunned, not sure what happened there. Will I have to look for other sources for my favorite show now?! 6 hours later, Frank posted another message saying his new Youtube channel is called "TaiwanTalks". So I immediately looked up TaiwanTalks and it seemed legitimate, so I am a bit relieved and decided to wait until Frank uploads new shows in a week or so. Then today, Frank posted a message on TaiwanTalks and explained what happened. Apparently, he got a divorce and "fengshuimaster0" was his ex-wife's account and she was the one posted a message telling everyone that Frank will no longer be uploading videos onto this account.

Apparently, Frank's ex-wife is Master Lin's (the fengshuimaster) relative. Although Frank cared a lot about this Youtube channel, he had no choice but to switch to another channel. In his blog, he even hinted that this channel may have something to do with his divorce. In the end, a divorce, because of the nature of the cyber world today, actually affected the lives (viewing habits) of thousands of people around the world.

Although I don't know who Frank is, I wish him well in his new life as a single person and that his father recovers soon from his illness. Thank you, Frank!

我最愛看的電視節目是台灣的新聞挖挖哇。自從美國東森在一年前取消了新聞挖挖哇的播出,我都是上 Youtube 看 fengshuimaster0 版主 Frank 所上傳的台灣節目,包括新聞挖挖哇。每天晚上我都很期待小孩子睡覺後,可以輕鬆的觀看 Frank 所上傳(好看又即時)的新聞挖挖哇。久而久之,習慣就成自然了。直到兩天前,Frank 告知大家:

“各位同學們, 昨夜家父急病住院, 可能要待一到兩周, 小弟只能盡量先錄好節目存檔, 等我回來再上! 事發突然, 特此向大家致歉.“

頓時覺得生活少了個什麼,不過我相信版主有空一定會在上傳新的節目,所以準備耐心的等待。 可是一天前,在大家的祝福聲中,突然又出現 Frank 的一個留言:

"★ 本頻道版主將轉址(不再以林正義老師專欄服務大家,會再上傳更多不同類型節目)!若想要知道新網址請來信!或是搜尋以下信箱! 此頻道將不會再上傳節目!感謝大家多年來的支持!"

天啊!發生了什麼事?!大家頓時錯愕! 不確定以後是否還能看到自己喜歡的節目。好在六小時之後,Frank 再留了一段話:

"大家好, 我是Frank. 在此先向大家報告新頻道username為TalwanTalks. 請先加入訂閱, 好友, 並請密切期待新片上映! p.s. 謝謝大家的祝福, 家父復原狀況良好, 預計一周內應可出院, 再次謝謝大家, 想念各位! "

我趕快跳到 TaiwanTalks 去看看。雖然還沒有上傳任何節目,但是至少還有希望看到 Frank 上傳的節目,也就於心不少。 今天在上 TaiwanTalks 的時候,竟然看到 Frank 所寫的自我介紹:

" 版主Frank原建置林正義老師youtube頻道, 因為該頻道的帳號信箱屬於前妻所有, 在前妻的堅持下, 版主只好另闢此一新youtube頻道 TaiwanTalks, 相信在不久的未來, 即將與舊雨新知重新見面!

版主的第一篇網誌文章已經發表, 僅獻給所有關心與支持我的朋友!
Name: Frank
Country: Taiwan
Website: "

原來這一切的變化都是因為 Frank 離婚的關係,也因為 Frank 的前妻是林正義大師的親戚,她不希望 Frank 繼續使用“fengshuimaster0”這帳號。 最近,台灣的新聞是充滿了很多名人的負面離婚消息,苦主爭的不都是為了錢或小孩的監護權。再看看大家的朋友 Frank。他因離婚而必需離開他所經營已久的 Youtube 頻道,另闢新的頻道,從新開始,讓人婉惜。 真沒想到在二十一世紀的網際網路虛擬世界裏,一個台灣男人的離婚,竟然會直接影響到國外數千人(可能更多人)的起居生活。在此,祝福 Frank 的父親早日康復,也希望 Frank 在不久的將來創造出新的人生方向! 感謝他!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

放春假 Spring Break

Every year, around Easter time, schools will be let out a week to 10 days so the kids can enjoy their Spring Break. To me, Spring Break means that we only have 2 months of school left before summer break begins. Younger kids depend on their parents for their Spring Break vacation, but older kids (college and older) plan their own Spring Break vacations. In some areas of the United States and Canada, snow doesn't fully melt until end of April, so Spring Break is an excuse for these winter birds to travel south for sunshine and warmer temperature. But what about those of us who live in the sunny (and warmer) states? Well, we go to colder places for some spring skiing.

Of course, the travel industry is fully aware of the spring break dates, so it's hard to find travel bargains for spring break. If I have my way, I would go on a cruise, but my husband can't take a full week off from work in April, so I have to find alternative spring break plans for my family. The criteria for our spring break travel are as follows:

1) Limited to car travel. Plane fares for 4 people cost too much if the vacation is a short one.
2) Limited to Friday to Sunday.
3) Must be fun for the husband.
4) Look for conference opportunities (at least the hotel will be free).

It's not that we HAVE to go somewhere for spring break, but the kids talk about where they go for spring break when they go back to school, so I always find somewhere interesting to take them. It doesn't have to be an expensive trip as long as it gives my kids the bragging rights before and after their spring break.

在美國, 春假是一個重要的假期。雖然上班族不放春假, 但是全國的每所學校都會放一星期到兩星期不等的春假。春假的放假日期、時間的長短,都由各個學校、學區做決定, 所以大家放春假的日期都不太一樣。通常春假可以從三月底開始放,放到最晚四月中旬左右結束。今年我們小孩的春假是從四月三日下午開始放假,一直放到四月十三日才再開學。照道理講很多家長都還是要上班,所以小孩放春假也是件頭痛的事情。當然是可以把小孩送去 spring camp, 但是有更多的家長乾脆請假帶小孩出去玩。我想大部份的家長還是沒有那麼多假可以請,只有另想辦法。

我們是一定會帶小朋友出去玩的,可是因為老公要上班, 我只能找一些比較近的地方,利用星期五到星期日的時間去玩。那其它四天呢(星期一至星期四)? 我會帶小孩出去吃中飯, 去一些我老公不喜歡去的餐廳,像 Souplantation, TGI Friday 及麥當勞。我還會帶他們去 Chuck E Cheese's。我的小孩很喜歡去那裏玩,去年我兒子的生日派對還是在那裏辦的。如果還有時間, 我會帶他們到附近的mall (購物中心) 和 Target 去逛逛。雖然我超級討厭帶小孩去逛街, 因為他們會(尤其是我那小的)要求買東買西。那時候我就要一直說 “NO”, 因為小孩子根本就不需要更多的玩具,那是永無止盡的慾望, 永遠無法滿足的慾望。反正可以順便機會教育, 需要讓小孩子知道就算有錢也不能看到什麼就買什麼。我常常告訴我的小孩, 省錢也是生財方法之一。

講到省錢, 因為現在的景氣不如從前, 就算要出去玩, 也要看看有沒有這項預算。我在計畫春假的旅遊時, 我有幾個原則:

1) 去開車就能到的地方。因為春假比較短,花錢坐飛機去玩就比較划不來。一家四口的飛機票價也是一筆可觀的開銷。
2) 盡量利用星期五到星期日的時間去玩,因為老公要上班, 請假不方便。
3) 一定要去老公也覺得好玩的地方。
4) 看看有沒有參加外地會議開會的機會 (至少旅館就不用錢)。

今年我老公要去聖地牙哥(San Diego) 開會, 全家準備跟他一起去玩。雖然小孩子星期五下午才開始放春假, 我們星期四下午就要出發, 開2.5 小時的車到聖地牙哥。

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

愚人節 April Fool's Day

Did anyone play an April Fool's Day joke on you this year?