Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

22 Oct '18  — weekend delight

Mt Rainier mushrooms forests full of mushrooms

My husband and I just completed our first year together outside of Berlin. Last year, we foraged European Chanterelles in Poland. This year, jumbo Chanterelles in the forests near Mount Rainier. They taste different but just as delicious.

I cooked most of them down to store and freeze except for a bowl full–we dehydrated them. Many people on the internet say dehydrating takes out flavor, but we’re planning to put these into soups and broths to add a small twist in flavor.

The mushrooms were delicious in omelettes. For dinner, I’m going to try cooking some in cream and serving it with gnocchi.


22 Oct '18  — talking to silhouettes for several hours

This weekend I had a chance to meet people without seeing them clearly.

I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience.

My husband and I were sitting by a low fire pit. We were at a mushroom picking event where we didn’t know anyone. People gathered around to warm themselves. While chatting and introducing ourselves, I noticed that I could only make out silhouettes. There wasn’t enough light to see anyone’s face. The most defining features were outlines, of hair, hats, jackets. I noticed how much people bent and moved to express themselves, not only through gestures but through the shift of weight from one leg to the other. Voices were the dominant characteristic that set apart one person over another. There was someone smoking a vanilla flavored cigarette–so much can be told from scent alone.

It wasn’t possible for anyone to make eye contact. I was less conscious of how I might have appeared to others (is there something on my face? did I scape away last bits of dinner from the corners of my mouth?). Meeting new people without without assertive eye contact was far less intimidating and far more enjoyable.

There’s less pressure for everyone.


18 Oct '18  — keeping things simple

eggs collage

If it isn’t right in front of me, it’s not relevant to this very moment.

To believe this statement, I’ve got to have a lot of faith. I easily get carried away with thoughts, (the news just reported on x, another white lady was mean to a black person, should I attend the next alumni event…), but this morning, I realized that the only thing that mattered was my eggs. I was peeling hard boiled eggs and while so much was running through my head–nothing was more important, more immediate to my well being than these eggs. I had to eat for breakfast.

When I noticed that the most important thing in my life (at that moment) were these eggs, I realized I have the ability to focus. Just ignore what’s not in front of me. Those thoughts that take up my mind space seem so urgent yet at the same time can be illusory in nature. They don’t seem to ever get resolved, some other issues always take their place. There are always ‘problems’ (things that disturb me) in this world.

I’m reminded of breathing exercises in meditation–it’s the most essential part of being alive. If I focus more on just what matters, perhaps everything else might just fall away.


17 Oct '18  — a place for an ideal afternoon

I wish I could have a slice of wedding cake. No, I don’t want a slice of regular cake, I want to have cake that came from an insanely grand, three tiered, festive and fancy cake.

My husband and I passed a bakery on our walk today. There was a huge photo of a wedding cake, but there were none for sale in the shop.

I wanted a slice of the cake in the picture. It was multiple tiered, there was gold, flowers, the frosting looked delicious.

Of course they don’t have wedding cake available. But I wish there was a place to walk in and have a slice of wedding cake anytime. The place I imagine would have an assortment of cakes recreated from real life weddings. Some famous, like Prince Harry’s lemon and elderflower cake, or recreated from weddings that happened to normal people in real life.

The walls would be decorated with wedding photos and there would be albums to browse. At the end the album you can read whether the couple made it or if they’re in the process of divorce. I can see how much fun it could be to take bets on whether the couple made it before the end of the album.

I guess this could only happen in a ‘perfect’ world, where everything is possible.


17 Oct '18  — the happiest stories

Originally, I thought it would be possible to help people through literature, prescribe a story to remedy troubles people go through in life. But there’s no way a person can get the same message.

A piece of art or literature is great because it has the ability for the audience to feel something. That something may be unique to each viewer. Great works often brings out a understanding of truth that has yet to be identified. It’s an amorphous feeling that can’t be lumped into happiness, sadness or confusion.

Someone wrote about how Master and Margarita cheered them up. Their take on the story was so different from what I experienced. They enjoyed the magical aspects of the story because it took them away into a entertaining world.

I saw the magic as an accurate description of real life. Things randomly appear in life, people, opportunities, and if you take time to question how or why, it doesn’t make sense.

How did I end up in Berlin? Of course, I flew a plane there but why did I go there in the first place? My roommate recommended it but I don’t always take her recommendations. Why this one?

The characters were incredibly entertaining. But I also felt their ability to disappear and reappear was real (how do life changing people find their way into my life? It can only be magic.)

The person who wrote about the story didn’t talk much about the chapters interjected in between the more entertaining magical story. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know there are some less interesting chapters–and by giving disproportionately less attention to these chapters, I see the person who wrote about her impressions also didn’t enjoy these parts. We agree on one thing.

The sub heading to the article was ‘how to be happy with Russian literature’. My most happiest experiences in reading have always happened when reading Dostoyevsky. The characters, the chaos–is pure joy. In fact, I always go to Russian literature to cheer me up.


11 Oct '18  — living The Shining everyday

I’ve started to realize my ability to ignore is the key to survival.

Last week, I watched The Shining. I couldn’t believe how relatable the story was with my life. You’re walking around a boring looking corner and a flash of freakiness shows up.

I often try to have a normal day, a normal second, but my mind often flashes with things that cause me extreme anxiety. It can be thoughts on how others perceive me, it can be a distorted memory, my mind can interpret others’ behavior as intentionally causing me harm…these flashes of thoughts cause extreme anxiety.

‘Viewer discretion is advised’

If they’re putting this warning on videos, a milder form of an experience compared to life, they should put this warning in the hospital as the first thing you see when you come out. Life can be traumatic and it’s not what I see, it’s what could pop up in my head.

Sometimes, my thoughts can be twisted, similar to when Wendy, in the Shining, starts freaking out when she sees a guy dressed as a bunny on a bed with another guy.

But I found relief in Danny’s imaginary friend. It’s not real, they’re just scary images. Just ignore them.


10 Oct '18  — let's keep out of touch

This is the first year a bunch of friends stop responding.

Every year, a couple messages are sent between me and old friends. They’re people I’ve worked with, went to school with. We haven’t seen each other in many years, but there’s always an email that goes out followed by a short exchange.

This year, most stopped responding.

It seemed like just the right amount of time had passed. No one bothered to visit, the relationship might as well not exist. Time is too precious to be used to maintain such a thing.

I didn’t anticipate this happening. But perhaps, because I’m not on social media, I’m more aware of the phenomenon.

The only info I receive from friends is through the email I get from them. I can’t infer what happened in their lives from photos or comments they make on different posts. I’d have to be significantly more interesting than anyone else they follow. The cost to ‘stay in touch’ is lower with people on facebook. I’m basically charging a premium to be friends.

I was a bit sad, but then again, perhaps I am no longer the same person when I was close to them. I feel like friendships are driven by certain wavelengths, similarities in how you see things and think at a particular time of your life.

If the work to keep in touch isn’t worth it, the friendship is probably not worth it. That’s part of the reason why I got off facebook–too many convenient friends who are in touch–I ended up spending too much time with people who weren’t exactly in the same wavelength.

There are other old friends, however, who continue to respond. Wavelengths may not last forever, but for the time being, some still overlap. And if lost friends veer towards my wavelength again, they’ll serendipitously fall back into my life, just as they had serendipitously fell into it before.


10 Oct '18  — a love for taking direction

I’ve noticed that I’m checking twitter trending hashtags a lot more.

I want to know what is going on this second. ‘What is the significance of this moment?! Someone tell me why this seemingly boring moment could be interesting…’

Before, I went to news sites. But they don’t update often enough. It feels like nothing is going on. I feel like life is so insignificant, not much is happening…(but isn’t that more true?)

I have a need for someone else to tell me how to experience now.

‘Oh this is where I am in the universe’. It gives me stability to know what part of the story I’m in (I’ve watched too many movies, started to believe life is a story and not just a set of random events). I’m in this country that has trade issues with others, I’m in this country where people are angry, angrier than they’ve ever been (so I’m told–whatever is happening, it’s never been as serious as now).

But do I need to be told how to experience this world? Do I need to be instructed on how to react, get excited for the moment?

I’m part of a studio audience, clapping when the applause sign goes off.

I didn’t realize how much I love taking direction.

If I were to get outside my comfort zone, it’d be not to take direction, ignore the applause sign, the laughter and just laugh and applause (or not) when I think it’s appropriate.


08 Oct '18  — how to not make the best of the situation

Sunday morning was drizzly and cold but I wanted to get a donut.

My husband an I headed to the donut shop and when we got there, I decided to get two donuts. How can you go for only one?

Of course, two turned out to be overwhelming. My apple fritter was larger than my face and the maple bar almost as big. I felt so tired after the sugar rush.

I wanted to make the most out of being out on a cold drizzly day. I thought getting two would make me happier than getting one. Tthe donuts are quite cheap, go all the way there and spend one dollar and come back? It probably cost more in gas.

It’s so hard to stop thinking quantitatively, how much more am I getting (per dollar, per donut, per effort exerted), and evaluate things from a qualitative standpoint–I’m going to feel sick if I eat more than one donut.

I can’t measure how bad I feel. I couldn’t anticipate how many dollars I’d pay not to feel so bad after I ate too many donuts.

There’s a huge part of modern culture that’s obsessed with numbers and it’s hard to shake that habit away.


07 Oct '18  — A new trend in escapist entertainment

I’ve been watching Stay Here, a show about renovating vacation homes. Each week, Genevieve Gorder and a ‘marketing guy’ visit a vacation rental. They redo the interiors and exteriors, they take photos and write about the place in a different way so it attracts people on vacation rentals sites like AirBnb.

There have been more and more people making a business off of airbnb but I don’t think a significant chunk of the population got into vacation rentals. The show is on Netflix so it reaches a lot of people and it’s a new twist on home renovation because it’s common to hear talk about how profitable it can be.

The show provides escapism. ‘What are you going to do with the extra dwelling you have’ ‘How do you get people to come and pay for it?’

In many episodes, the marketing guy projects the owners to make six figures.

After each show, I feel like I learned something useful. First, week SEO, buy keywords specifically for the type of unique home you have. If it’s a house boat in Seattle, buy up ‘Seattle Houseboat Vacation Stay’ or something like that. Then I learned I should create an area that is instagrammable so visitors would take photos there and make sure they use a consistent hashtag. (You want to leverage your opportunity, get free marketing from your customers…) An instagrammable space is usually one with a vibrant backdrop or a set of hanging chairs that overlook the ocean. My vacation home should be niche, whether it’s a vintage cottage in the vineyards or a poolhouse in Austin, I need to make sure my guests use a consistent hashtag.

While I feel like I came away with info that’s useful, there are better pieces of info that are more suited to me. None of them have anything to do with vacation rentals.

‘Usefulness is not in the eye of the beholder…’

I’m told how practical this info is and I buy into the practical knowledge…just as I’ve picked up a ton of practical knowledge from a lot of youtubers online. And if you talk to people in general, info on SEO, getting hashtags used, is ‘useful’, except, if you’ve got no overarching plan for people to use it–it’s really not useful.

While usefulness should be in the eye of the beholder, often it’s not. It’s in the eye of what the public deems is useful.

If something is truly useful, the knowledge is applied and used–not discussed or talked about on a tv show.