When All Else Fails

Photo from Sketcher Kee

It’s been 2 months. Exactly 60 days since the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong broke out. I don’t talk about it much with my friends here, unless someone asks. But there has not been a single day that I did not think about it. I make sure I read the latest news on the movement, every morning on my commute to work and every night before I go to bed. It’s become my daily ritual.

At times, I’m saddened by the fact that I’m not fighting the fight with the people in Hong Kong. Other times, I feel very fortunate that I live in a place where democracy and freedom of speech is my civil rights.

During the first few days after police dispersed tear gas to the crowd for the first time, it was impossible for me to talk about it without having tears in my eyes. I still remember on the morning of September 28th, I woke up and sat down in the kitchen to check my Facebook page while waiting for the water to boil, so I can make some tea for myself and some hot chocolate for my kids. As images of the protests flashed on my iPhone, I started crying uncontrollably, as if there was a spear piercing through my heart. No, it was worst. It was a pain beyond the physical. It was like I just lost a friend or a family member.

When my older son, who just turned eleven last month, walked down the stairs and saw me crying, he came hugged me and asked me why I was crying. I explained to him, between sobs, that the police used unnecessary violence on peaceful protesters and that a lot of people got hurt. Some of them were not much older than him.

Before this, I had talked to him briefly about the student class boycott in Hong Kong. So he had some understanding of what was going on in my hometown. Previously at school, he had also learned about civil rights and some of the civil rights heroes in the U.S., such as, Martin Luther King and Rosa Park. It helped him put the protests in Hong Kong in perspective.

When I finally finished, I felt much better and calmer. He gave me another hug and told me not to be too sad. I kissed him on the forehead and held him in my arms. It was just what I needed at the time. That even if the world fell apart, I would still have my loved ones.

I try to keep my boys updated about the movement and explained a little bit more in depth each time we talked about it. The little one is too young to understand much. But I hope by talking about it, they get to learn more about their mother through the incredible city she came from. If all else fails, at least the legacy of this great city would get passed on.


No-fail Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Cookies are one of the few things you can easily make with kids at pretty much any age. For the very little ones, you can let them measure and mix ingredients. Older kids can help break the eggs, whisk, and do other more sophisticated tasks.

The kids and I have been making quite a handful of cookies in the last few months. Our favorite is the chocolate chip oat cookie. I adapted the recipe from The Great Big Cookie Book (Hermes House, 1999), which I bought years ago when I was still in Hong Kong. It’s a humble-looking book and not written by any famous chef or food writer. But I found most of the recipes very reliable. While you won’t find any groundbreaking ideas, the basic, easy-to-follow recipes have become my go-to resource when I simply want to make some cookies with the boys.

I like the idea of adding the oats to the cookies, which gives it more crunch. I called it no-fail because the steps are really easy. I normally don’t use an electric mixer, especially when I’m making these with the kids. For them, a big part of the fun is being able to mix things together with their own hands —  well, we actually use a fork or a whisk 🙂

Below is the original recipe from the book. I listed the adaptations I made in the notes that follow.

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Makes 60*


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine*
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar*
  • generous 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 3-4 baking sheets*.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer*, cream together the butter or margarine and the sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly blended. Stir in the rolled oats and chocolate chips. The dough should be crumbly. Drop heaped teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the dough about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until just firm around the edge but still soft to the touch in the center. With a slotted spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool.


  1. Every time we follow this recipe, we make about 2 dozen cookies, not 60 as suggested. I think if you do use an electric mixer, the dough would be fluffier and could yield more. Nonetheless, I would say our version still taste really good.
  2. Because of health and nutritional issues, I never use margarine, and I don’t recommend using margarine in any kind of cooking. It’s proven not to be the healthiest oil afterall.
  3. I normally cut down the amount of sugar by about 1/4 to 1/3 in most recipes, simply because I don’t like overly sweet sweets. I guess even after a decade of living here, I still manage to keep my Asian palette. For this recipe, I use a total of about 3/4 cups of sugars. You can adjust the amount according to your taste.
  4. I usually line my baking sheets with parchment paper, instead of greasing them.
  5. As I mentioned earlier, I only use a fork or a whisk to cream the butter and mix the ingredients. An electric mixer would probably work better.

Happy baking, everyone, and have a fabulous weekend!

We Did Not Forget*

There is a Chinese saying
That snow will fall
Even in the early days of Summer
When there is injustice in our land

And snow it did
In the capital of this thriving country
On the very day that innocent youths
With nothing but a truly patriotic heart
Were greeted by unimaginable violence
Twenty four dark years ago

For some of us
Living in the margins
Of the corrupted and the truth
In the shadows and the light
We never forget
And never will

The unexpected downpour
As if to say
We’re touched by your souls
Makes a theatrical backdrop
To the performance
Not approved by the few

With a heavy heart we shout
Let our voices be heard
Let our heroes sacrifice not in vain
Let the wrong come to an end

Is not just a string of numbers
It encapsulates the spirit of this enduring fight

A fight we shall ne’er forget

*This was originally posted on my Facebook timeline. I made a few adjustments to the language and re-posted here.

**This poem is my own reflection on the tragic events happened on June 4, 1989, called “Tiananmen Incident,” or more precisely, but less desirably to some, “Tiananmen Massacre.”


加州的州花是金黃色的罌粟花,Golden Poppies。每年五、六月期間(視乎那一年的夏天早熱還是遲熱),便會罌粟處處,紅的紫的黃的橙的,浩浩蕩蕩的公告天下:夏天由現在開始!








不過北加州的海灘就是在盛夏,水溫也很冷,玩玩水還可以,一般都不會真正的游泳,就是要滑浪或進行其他水上活動的,大都會穿上wet suit才下水。雖然如此,但七月的海灘還是挺熱鬧的。我愛坐在大毛巾上,聞着海水的氣息,看着他們父子四人玩得起勁,然後嘴角便會不由自主的往上彎起來。




























不過以上這些都不是大障礙,維繫一段關係,最大的敵人往往是明知不該存在的想當然。我常常提醒自己,幸福並不是必然,而是要靠自己努力爭取的;事事take it for granted,最終只會take you nowhere。







我也分不清讓我失落的是那連續八個星期的學習與創作,抑或是那令我可以暫時不做媽媽做回自己的「me time」。











所以,sorry Rohan,你的近照都是鬆郁矇.