Asia, Culture, Food, Travel

No Soup For You: Hong Kong Edition

Let me be honest for a second: going to Hong Kong was never a dream destination for me. But it isn’t my birthday and sometimes you just wake up and a plane ticket is booked for you.

Like my senior year Spring Break when my brother announced to me that he had booked us tickets to Liberia (cue mini heart attack)… Costa Rica (not Africa: cue minor calm down)… and he had booked a zip lining excursion through the rainforest (cue major heart attack) and white water rafting (more my speed)


Second day of ziplining, the first resulted in a tearful meltdown on my part

The scary thing about Jake is when he says he wants to do something, we actually do it. Like remodeling a rent house or buying a huge embroidery machine while I was on a fishing trip to Canada. If he talks about it, it’s basically already a done deal.

Which is why when he said he wanted to go to Hong Kong last Spring, I was just waiting for him to tell me where I’d be sitting on the plane.

And here I am, four months later, in downtown Hong Kong. Jet lag doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling. That flight was pretty miserable. I kept thinking the whole time, this feels like the longest flight of my life. Then, I kept remembering that it literally was. Nearly 17 hours. In one plane. No sleep and sheer exhaustion.

When we got to the hotel, I had a quick cup of yogurt for “dinner” then fell asleep before the lights were out.

I woke up at 4:30 with a raging headache and craving soup and rice. And after wandering the dark Hong Kong streets for a few minutes, we stumbled upon “Modern Cafe”.


The outdoor menu

I love when I go in a restaurant, check the menu, see that it’s all in Mandarin. Never attempt to ask, don’t ask, it’ll just confuse them. Just wait and watch.

Yep, two seconds later, the waitress looks at me, raises her eyebrows and goes digging through the menus and brings it over. The one English menu in the place.


Note: these prices are in Hong Kong dollars. Our whole breakfast meal together including drinks cost $6.75 USD

I ask if they have soup. Nope. (Even though I see everyone around me eating it) Okay.. I just order the “chicken fillet” instead and pray whatever comes out is good. I’m pretty sure that is the most vague description you could give. I can think of about a million dishes that you could label chicken fillet. However, I was not expecting this.


My chicken fillet

Someone must’ve read my mind. Maybe Hong Kong isn’t so bad after all.


Jet lag soup



A Bushel and A Peck

What is it with me and ovens? I cannot keep from burning myself. I made sweet potato fries for my friends the other night and accidentally left a fork in the pan. Put it in a 350 degree oven, checked it thirty minutes later, saw that there was a fork there that didn’t belong, and what did I do? Promptly reached in the oven and grabbed it. Do you know what forks are made of? Metal. Do you know what the heat conductivity of metal is? Really good. About .825 seconds after I grabbed the fork, I remembered that too.

Speaking of sweet potatoes and remembrance, do you remember those little delicate baby sweet potato slips I grew in the spring? I planted them in the soft soil, watered them and kicked them out of the nest, metaphorically speaking, of course. And, here we are.

The picture below represents 2 plants. Remember, there were 108 planted. So, only 106 mounds like this left to harvest. Think I went a little overboard?

I planted them on May 5. I’ve never grown the purple ones but the variety I got from the store were tiny and uniform. So, you would assume that they grow like that. Wrong. They’re huge, just like the orange ones.


The three pounder


I’ve mentioned my dead apple tree before, right? Well, I’m currently in the process of picking out three new ones to replace the tree that died. So, my apple harvest was non-existent this year.

Luckily though, my friend is giving me a glimpse into my apple picking future because she has seven apple trees that were loaded with fruit. And I scored a harvest invite. (And, yes, a harvest invite is a real thing in my life and not only a real thing, but a prized treasure. Cherish it.)

I went to pick apples with her which, if we’re being honest, mostly consisted of me standing around gabbing while she picked. But, I got a bushel basket full at the end of it. Literally, we weighed it. It was 40 pounds of apples.

What do you do with 40 pounds of apples, you might ask. Jake decided we should make apple chips (AKA nature’s donuts) with our fancy dehydrator. So, we did.

We also happened to accidentally wear the same shirt. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened and leads me to be about 93.7% certain that we share the exact same brain.

America, Art, Culture, Religion, Travel


I feel like I haven’t written in awhile. Except I have. I literally write almost every day. Not all of it is noteworthy or in this case, blog worthy. I have half written ideas, notes, thoughts, cards, lying around everywhere. So, I guess I feel like I haven’t posted anything in awhile. Which I haven’t.

I recently learned to write my name in Arabic. Useful, right?


I love words. I always have. The spelling, the way we use them, different meanings, they’re so fun to me. Probably not everyone agrees, but I definitely think so. I love people who speak English as their second language. They make me see our words in a whole new way. People always ask me if I speak a second language and I always say no (because I don’t)

But, I feel like understanding English as a second language should count as my second language. Am I right? When I get my nails done, I always leave there knowing their complete life story, so that should count for something, right?

I met some friends in Jordan and they all speak Arabic with English as their second language. I was messaging one of them and I used the word obvious. And he said he had never heard that word before, so he wanted to know the exact meaning and how he could use it and wanted to hear me say it so that he could get the right pronunciation. Which probably wasn’t right because I will admit that I might have a slight accent. But, he got the idea.

I really like finding and using words that second language speakers haven’t heard or used before. It’s an especially proud moment when they later use the word I exposed them to in a conversation.


My first Conversation English group

One of my Korean friends in college pointed out to me that I said the word hopefully a lot. I used it in a sentence one time and she said, I’ve noticed you use that word a lot, so I’m going to start using that word too. How strange is it that a word you use completely unconsciously can become associated to you specifically by another person? I guess if I’m going to have a word associated with my pattern of speech, hopefully is a good one.


Jayoung , I taught her to fish and “hopefully”

We are what we do repeatedly, but I think we also are what we say repeatedly. The words we use, the things we speak, that all matters.

I read one of my posts out loud recently as a summary of our work with the Syrians. It was weird for me, more than I thought it would be. As I listened to the story being told first hand, I wrote notes so that I could write about it later. The woman telling the story didn’t make me very emotional. Writing the post didn’t make me emotional at all. But, something about reading the words I had written out loud, hearing the words spoken, got to me. It made me see the story in a new light.

There’s a verse that I love that says: our mouths speak from that which fills our hearts. (That’s the Brittney version. To read the Jesus version, check out Matthew 12:34 or Luke 6:45)

To me, that indicates that what I say is reflective of the condition of my heart. Which means I need to pay attention to what I say, to how I speak, to the words I use.

Because forget about sticks and stones, words have the power to hurt. They also have the power to heal. To encourage. To shine light in dark places. So, choose your words carefully and think before you speak.



(If you didn’t understand my last reference, it’s okay. You’re just not as hip as me. It’s fine. Don’t worry. I’ve got a picture below that will fill you in.)