Day 2… Learning to Read Instructions…

Hats off to Non techie folks like me!

After squandering away my precious free time fiddling with the gadgets on wordpress…I finally smarten up and found what I needed…somehow I just did not get it when I read the instructions the first time around.

The ideas have been swimming in my head for more than a year. When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me…there is a reason people call this beautiful outline structure “menu” It is a way to organize links and ideas!

Slowly, but surely, as I bumble my way through wordpress and related tutorials, the blog will be up and running with the relevant topics, categories and links. Some days I wonder…I am so busy enough as it is…why am I doing this to myself?

Answer: Because if I do all the hard work now, publishing books will be much easier…all the ground work would have been done and organized on the blog with reader’s feed back!

Ok, so…here I am snail crawling through the web as a non technical mom learning to stretch and go on this new adventure…

If I want to set up a functional menu I can work with, press on this link!

A Hearty Easy Meal from Portugal to Tainan, Taiwan…

Just remembered that a snack we grew up eating in Tainan, called “guan chai2 ban3” the coffin was deep fried bread, hollowed in the middle with chicken a la king cream sauce and chicken gizzards.  We had that again during our bike trip in 2010…I suddenly realized it was Portuguese! Cream sauce was not a native Taiwanese, Fujian culinary element but an import, just like bread was.  Bread in the Taiwanese dialect is called “pung” which sounds like “Pain” in French for bread.  I believe it is similar pronunciation in Portuguese.  To replicate this snack and avoid the deep fried grease, I hollow out bread, toast it on a pan, then ladle cream sauce with meat into it as a meal. I don’t always have access to chicken or duck gizzards so I sub with whatever meat I have.  This reminds me of having clam chowder in sour dough bread at Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco!

Learning how to Set up a Blog!

We all have our own learning styles and ways of feeling out new things…take a leap of faith and see what happens…

It has been an adventure learning how to set up an organized structure for this blog I have envisioned since May 10, 2013…nearly 17 months ago.  I am still taking baby steps at a time. Yesterday, I spent a few hours going through the dashboard, cruising through the theme, appearance and widgets.  Evidently, I am still trying to get a sense of how this works.

Today, the next task was learning how to set up the page for  After a few trial and errors…I actually stumbled across what felt right!  Of course, if I use Sunburst for my theme for livingwithflare blog, I might as well keep the theme consistent and choose a black background and similar style for the bio page!

Yes, black is dramatic.  We do a lot of photography and are intuitively drawn to layouts which enhance the presentation of pictures.  I am accepting my limits.  A website cannot be set up within one day as a rookie and full time mom.  I am still learning day by day how to make this vision of integrating the life application counseling skills given to me into something fun to read and try out for fellow adventurers in life.

If I could, I would love to set up a page that can look like concentric circles and have links in each sector. My vision is to write and share life stories and the process of identity formation, healing, repentance, restoration, revival and the reformation journey as I have been blessed in a way which allows people to test for themselves this process of redemption and renewal.

My life has been deeply blessed by my mentors, Dr. David and Susanne Nikles, who use the CWF (Christian Wholeness Framework).  It is an integrated approach between prayer counseling and life application counseling.  I have been reaping the fruits of their labor and delight in imparting this gift with others.

Life can be as versatile and colorful as we choose to engage and invest. As I hammer out the details to set up this blog, I am amazed at how much God has crammed into these 43 years of my life…somedays it feels so short and so little…yet as the content gets verbalized and captured on paper, I am in awe of how much He can squeeze, Chinese Medicine, Cultural Identity issues, spiritual formation challenges, cross cultural journey, life long passion for culinary exploration, the need to be tactile and visual resulting in diving into cooking, cleaning painting, dancing and different forms of art to worship Jesus my Lord and king…yes, it does add up to quite a bit of blessings…

Back to making Durian Jello for Jonathan’s 44 birthday treat!

On the Move…

The count down continues…

5 more full days left in the Hani village before we break camp and hit the road again.  As a back packing family, this has been the longest period of permanence living at a location as a home away from home.  After 3 years of living between two locations…Kunming city and the Hani village, we are ready to shift back to Kunming city.  It has been non stop paring down, throwing away and giving away things.  Truly “one man’s trash can become another one’s  treasure…something old is something new to somebody somewhere” from “What’s New Corky”.  That was the solo I sang in 5th grade as Old Mr. Ross, mentor and Grandpa of a young boy.

Those words have stuck with me for life…when I first moved to this Hani village and got into composting organic material, my favorite pass time was picking dead, wilted, rotten but free veggies off the wet market floors.  My kids teased me of being a habitual hobo, bum and beggar. It was fun!  The rotting veggies made really good fertilizer after composting.  Now that we are leaving, I will continue this habit of composting organic waste from our fruit peels and veggie scraps and maybe get a movement going in our city apartment complex.  Nothing beats the joy of transforming dead, dried soil into something luscious and life giving!

Done packing down the kitchen and bathrooms…just a few more hours of packing and cleaning to go.   Once again, the Su family is on the road again for a new adventure…We will live off our bikes, the public bus system and occasional cab rides.

At 7:30am this morning, Jonathan took Olivia, Nathan and Joani for one last hike…for three years we had the most magnificent back yard of our life: A River Valley with rice and tea terraces. They said good bye to their favorite hiking paths, praying and blessing this land.  We will miss the ravenous beauty of this stunning place.

We are ready to say good-bye.  I am so thankful the children had a chance to pack their own belongings, give away things and see our furniture go piece by piece.  They will have a short break in Hong Kong, LA and SF.  We are looking forward to the next adventure: taking the train from Kunming to Guangzhou, take a bus to the Luo Hu border check,then take the KCR into Hong Kong near the end of May, early June.  It will be the first time the children and I travel solo with our back packs and meet up with Jonathan there.  From May 24 all the way to the end of May, Jonathan has back to back meetings in Beijing and Hong Kong.  May he have God willing, just enough time to return to Kunming with us to settle down our LA luggage, then off to hosting the Kellogg Corps volunteers. The children and I will have the pleasure of unpacking our boxes upon return from the US and making our Kunming apartment a full operating home base for the first time in our lives!

I look forward to getting a small balcony garden going and the compost worms settled into city life ^.^ It is a very different kind of rhythm living in the city as back packers. My Kunming kitchen is back in full operation and we have back packing couch surfers booked for November.  It will be a fun break tasting all kinds of goodies in Hong Kong and the US…I will be taking photos of new ideas and bring them back to the kitchen. Until July, happy traveling!

Hello Pots and Pans, Lets Make Some Music!

Yes, it seems crazy in the midst of packing down my kitchen and moving out of the village in 7 days, I join the world of blogging and world of creative adventures!  After one year of friends on Facebook encouraging me to make my recipes more accessible, I have taken their offer and start on this new adventure.   I love cooking, eating and discovering the similarities and differences between cuisines around the world.  As a back packer, the opportunity to explore fancy restaurants and simple peasant food between nations is a dream come true.  To me, meeting people’s need to be fed and imparting love and tenderness is synonymous.  We need to eat to live; I also love living to eat!  Why not feed and love at the same time?  I have been walking and working with the rural and urban poor in China the last 12 years of my life and love empowering people to dream the impossible.

After training village girls and women to cook and bake all kinds of family favorites, encouraging them to take ownership of the process these years, I am now training my children with these life skills.  I know one day, my 15 year old, 12 year old and 10 year old will impart this love for food and food preparation with others.  This is my life passion and ministry.

Cooking doesn’t have to be painful, monotonous or boring.  As long as you are willing, lets take this adventure together!   There is no limit of how much fun you can choose to have in your kitchen…put on the music, sings, dance, worship God and cook up a storm! Welcome to Living with Flare!  May my passion for life flow from my kitchen to yours!

Hello Pots and Pans, Lets Make some Music!

It seems crazy to enter the world of blogging in the midst of final packing and moving out of the village in the next 7 days.  After a year of encouragement from friends, I thought today during my break, why not take the plunge?  These three years of making a kingdom out of my kitchen has been challenging but immensely rewarding in ways beyond measure!  Honestly, when I first arrived in 2009, I did not log many hours in the kitchen.  I usually cooked one proper meal at dinner and didn’t have to worry about cooking lunch for a family of 5.  Jonathan ate at work and my kids were little and did not need much elaborate cooking.  I could get away with bread with ham and cheese.

As we settled into village life where the culture is everyone goes home for lunch and dinner, I realized something had to change: Me!  There was little instant food and processed foods to depend on.  Cheese was precious and expensive, my kids were hitting growth spurs with voracious appetites, and my husband was having gall stone issues and had to eat non greasy, low sodium diet, whatever worked before was not  anymore.  With little choices of restaurants and food variety, my only option was learn how to cook to satisfy our food cravings and physical needs.

I grew up in Toronto, Taiwan and Vancouver having access to all kinds of cuisines: Taiwanese, Cantonese, Shanghai, Greek, Indian, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Singaporean, Malaysian and much more.  My parents use to own a grocery store when I was growing up in Toronto.  Our snack would be olives and feta cheese from the Greek store near our shop…my love for Greek and Mediterranean food began in my childhood.  My dad use to shop frequently at Korean shops in down town Toronto…ginseng candy, ginseng tea and the vibrant colors of Korea painted a corner of my taste for Korean culture.  At home, my dad loved Scottish shortbread, Scottish tunes and anything Plaid.  I don’t know where the Scottish streak came from but it lasted his entire life and became a part of my identity.  When I am homesick for my dad, I bake Scottish short bread in the village.  My mom fed us all kinds of snacks: cheese whiz on celery sticks, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and honey toast, rice crackers, potato chips, and our favorite comfort food, cold soba noodles in a sweet savory garlic soya sauce dip.  I can’t even remember how meatballs, tomato sauce and pasta became a part of my childhood in Toronto. My childhood best friend was from Portugal.  I remember enjoying the aroma of her grandmother’s cooking and the interesting blends that reminded me of my own mom’s Asian cooking at home….they cooked seafood, had seaweed in their soup and tantalizing spices that invited people to take a bite.

When we moved to Taiwan, I was 8 years old and an entire new world of taste and snacks changed my life.  The plethora of Taiwanese delicacies introduced the world of fusion cuisine to me.  Taiwanese snacks were a blend of Fujian concepts with Portuguese and Japanese influences, a faithful recording of  the island, Formosa’s history.  It is only now in my adult life, as I travel around the world, I can identify the roots of each Taiwanese snack from its country of origin and trace how the dishes evolved over generations.  For fun, I would read up the history of my favorite dishes and study its roots, how people made it in the villages, the cities and how it got transported to Asia, the other colonies and nations.  I like to break things down to the most basic ingredients, understand the regional spices that makes the same dish distinctly different from place to place and see what a person can do with what they have at home.

The adventures of taste buds continued after I dated my husband and married him.  Jonathan and I loved traveling and trying out different things.  We love street food because it is very local, authentic and close to the masses at every social level.  No food is too simple, too provincial, or too strange for us to try.  Jonathan’s motto: ” As long as people consider something as food, we will try it!”

We enjoyed exotic tastes, things that were adventurous and different…yet at the end of the day, a simple bowl of rice and soya sauce or rice with fish floss was comfort food. For me, I will always gravitate back to my childhood comfort foods: mash potatoes, pasta, tomato soup, cream of mushroom soup, cheese and bread…the things my mom fed me.  In the village, peanut butter on toast with a cup of milk tea is a special treat.

Moving to the village where everything had to be made from scratch to satisfy our food cravings, visiting food sites in Chinese and English became my favorite pass time.  I would read up Chinese search engines to find recipes for our favorite dishes…and google recipes for pasta, pizza, sauces, cakes, cookies, pies to learn how to make things we took for granted living in big cities.  I learned to dig into flour and make things from dough and fresh batter.  I had no bakery to find apple pie in the remote villages of China.  There were apples, brown sugar, eggs, flour, and an oven in my village kitchen, so the adventure began.

Now, after 3 years of logging in extensive hours in the kitchen hosting all kinds of guests and high volume cooking to feed 10 plus people on a regular basis, my pots and pans began to sing a tune of its own: lets explore and have some fun, lets taste and try something different…lets experiment and create a new world…just follow the food cravings and make something delicious and live giving!  And so, the adventure begins and keeps going.

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