Luke’s First Taiwan Tri

This past weekend Luke and I travelled south of Yilan to a lake called ‘Meihu’ for his first triathlon in Taiwan. The location was ideal for a triathlon as there was a lake which had a running track around it and the surrounding roads were nicely paved (and flat). Ideal conditions for a tri. Luke’s many months of training certainly paid off come race day.

Here he is waiting at the start line with other gentlemen in light blue swim caps (which grouped together men between the age of 26-35).

It was always pretty easy to spot Luke as (a) he was one of the few foreigners and (b) he was wearing a super flourescent orange suit.

Luke managed to make a few buddies while waiting for his turn at the start line.

Here’s Waldo on the last leg of the 750 meter swim. (Note that most Taiwanese frog-swim. This made it very hard for Luke to maneuver around them).

I caught him just after the swim on his way to the transition area where he traded his swim cap for a helmet and jumped on his bike.

I caught him again post-20 km cycle transitioning for the last leg; the run.

Here he is launching into the 5 km run.

And finally, racing towards the finish line. Looking strong.

Hooray! He finished in 1 hour 24 mins. A very solid time for a first timer.

It was a super cool event and he even got a free blue popsicle.

One Month Post-Op, Inside Our Fridge, and a Birthday

It’s been one month since my knee anthroscopy. I have been amazed at how quickly I have been recovering. Aesthetically my knee looks pretty good. Just a few small holes where the scope went in.

I still don’t have full mobility and experience pain from time to time, when I attempt something I’m not ready to (like a front crawl when swimming, or a speed walk). The worst pain actually comes when I squat. A lot of the women’s toilets around Taiwan are squat-style, so if I really, really have to go I’ll squat down but then have a hard time getting up and am in agonizing pain.

But on the up-side: two weeks after surgery I was back on my bike (at a very slow pace), back in the pool (doing a very cautious one-legged frog stroke), walking pretty normally (without a cane, minor limp,  struggled with stairs and could only use my good leg to get up/down them).

Now, four weeks later, I can bike much faster (still not normal speed), swim (two-legged frog, experimented with front crawl today but still have pain), walk fine and can use both legs going down stairs but I am still struggling going up stairs.

Last night I attempted a few yoga moves but the deep knee bends were quite sore so I eased off.  Part of this might be that I have lost a lot of muscle in my left thigh. It is noticeably smaller that the right. I am going to have to work on rebuilding that strength so I don’t continue favoring my right leg.

To celebrate my one month post-op I took a trip to Costco as our fridge was in dire need of restocking.

Best Costco buy and my favorite thing in our fridge right now? Hands down, this massive jar of artichoke hearts:

My second favorite fridge item (although not from Costco) are these lychees:

Our freezer is equally stuffed full of goodies.

My favorite thing in here? Wild blueberries:

If the last three things I ate were blueberries, lychees and artichoke hearts, I’d die a happy woman.

In more exciting news today is a very special someone’s birthday, my second cousin, Josie.

Like me, Josie is a big cat lover, so I did my best to have Fern and Goose pose in a special birthday photo for Josie. This was the best I could do:

Happy Birthday Jos! We hope you have an amazing day!

Love, Mel, Luke, Fern, and Goose

Righting Wrongs in the Kitchen

I made a big home cooked dinner on Saturday night and wanted to make something nice and light for dessert. So I decided chocolate meringues would be the perfect treat. I whipped the egg whites perfectly, added the other ingredients, and carefully placed them on the baking sheet and into the oven to bake for 20 minutes. I peeked into the oven after 15 minutes to see how they were progressing only to feel that the oven was way too hot. I checked the thermostat and sure enough it was set to 250 C rather than 150 C. I took one look at the meringues and knew they were beyond saving. Major kitchen fail.

You’ll notice one missing. Luke was a good sport and tried one but the look on his face after the first bite was telling. They were awful.

I was pretty disappointed about the whole affair so decided to wake up early the next morning and give my baking ability a self-esteem boost by making something and having it turn out as intended. I thought nothing better than some delicious scones. They turned out beautifully and certainly made me feel better about my disaster the night before.

Cinnamon Sugar Scones

Ingredients

– 2 cups flour

– 2 teaspoons baking powder

– 2 teaspoons baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 cup butter

– 1 egg, separated

– 3 tablespoons honey

– 1/3 cup buttermilk (I never have buttermilk so always use a substitute of regular milk with an added a splash of vinegar)

Cinnamon topping:

– 1 tablespoon sugar

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the glaze:

– 1 cup powdered sugar

– milk

– vanilla

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter and mix until crumbly.

2. In another bowl, mix the egg yolk with the honey and buttermilk, until well blended.

3. Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Stir until combined.

4. On a floured surface turn out dough and roll into a ball.

5. Place ball on a baking sheet covered in baking paper and shape ball into an 8-inch circle and cut into eight even slices.

6. Lightly beat egg white with a fork and then brush dough with the white.

7. Make cinnamon topping by combining cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over dough.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

They should come out looking like this:

The final step is to make the glaze and drizzle over the hot scones. To make the glaze combine powdered sugar, a dash of milk, and a dash of vanilla. Mix well and then drizzle.

These were delicious and it did not take us long to eat the whole batch!

More adventures with Cam and Gin

Ginny’s 30th Birthday may have been the highlight but we managed to do so other cool stuff around Taiwan while Cam and Gin were here.

We took a mini-road trip to Taroko Gorge.

And stayed a night in the glorious Silks Place.

Wine was consumed and cigars were smoked.

We ate a boatload of a food.

And we celebrated Gin’s birthday once more.

Back in Taipei we got on our bikes and hit up the Shida night market.

Luke was keen for our guests to sample Taiwan’s more unusual culinary delights.

On the tasting menu that particular night: Pig’s blood. Cam not keen.

One stunning afternoon we got back in the car and drove up to Maokong.

Tea was drunk and stories were told.

Ending the night at Bongos for a hit of western-style hamburgers.


We enjoyed a few morning walks through Daan Park (complete with a foot massage).

One sweltering day we took our bikes and sun-brellas out the CKS Memorial.

A tasty lunch of dumplings was eaten at the Golden Chicken Pot on the famous Yongkang St.

The last night Cam and Gin were here we went out to Ximending and then to a Japanese BBQ place for grilled meats and copious amounts of beer (which sadly I had to miss as I was sooo exhausted).

Kanpai!!!!

Celebrating a 30th Birthday Taipei Style

It was awesome having our good friends Cam and Gin stay with us last week. What was even more awesome what that it was Ginny’s 30th birthday last Tuesday so we got to celebrate it with her.

We started out at home toasting with Champagne and nibbles.

Then made our way to Southern Beauty for a Szechuan style meal.

After eating our weight in eggplant and pork headed up to the rooftop bar where we drank cocktails and enjoyed a view of 101.

It was late but we didn’t want the night to end so we made one more stop at our favorite cocktail place, Fourplay, for some tasty creations.

We went home after Fourplay and all agreed it was too late to indulge in this gluten-free four layer chocolate monstrosity.

So we had it the next night instead.

Happy Birthday Ginny! We had a great time and hope you did too!

Mid-week Update

Last week I received a beautiful gift in the mail from Jen, Rob, Pickles, and Buster:

They sent me this big bouquet flowers for my surgery. I loved them and unfortunately so did the cats as we found clumps of green vomit on our floor.

I didn’t have tutoring this week as my tutor was sick so I had some spare time on my hands. I indulged in a pedicure:

Luke, Goose and I also caught up on the Republican Convention via the Daily Show. (She loves sitting inside my purse).

I  Facetimed with my Grandma, who is in the hospital with pneumonia. She’s such a trooper though – still making phone calls!

Get well soon Grandma!

We also had our first visitors arrive last week. Ginny and Cameron, New Zealanders, who live in Singapore. It’s been awesome having them here. They had to work a bit since they arrived last Thursday but now they are off and staying with us until Sunday. We’re totally excited to show them around Taipei.