Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Crazy 8?

I belt a lot of songs out of tune, but generally there are few that I really relate to (in the genre I listen to). Do I sing/yell "Baby, like a damn sociopath!" when I listen to Olivia Rodrigo's "good 4 u", yes, I do. Do I know what it's like to cry on the bathroom floor, not so much.

Does our wedding song remind me of Joe? No, most of the time I can't remember that it was a mash up of "Have I Told You Lately" and "Grease Lightening" (actually, I remember the Grease Lightening part...)

What gets me every time though, is "All of Me" by John Legend. Any time I hear the song, I can't help but smile because in one sentence, it expresses our relationship: "You're crazy and I'm out of my mind".

You're crazy. Even though I roll my eyes often, his sense of adventure is awe inspiring. Always wanting to explore the "off road" path or doing extensive research to find the best places for us to take mini trips on the weekends. He also develops very extensive/elaborate story lines/plots when playing with the girls; for a while Bethany's favorite game was when the father from Peppa Pig was evil and was kidnapping the Hello Kitties (I too question, what we are teaching our kids...) I always call him my "biggest kid" because of how much he likes to just have fun and enjoy life, finding excitement in every day things like butterflies, planes flying overhead, and watching Bluey (highly recommend if you have Disney+) with the girls.

And I'm out of my mind. Joe has been all about my crazy from Day 1. Does he let me order food for 4 people when it's just the 2 of us (for fitter or fatter baby!)? He does. Does he dance with me in the middle of the living room just because I'm in the mood? He does. Does he hype me up and take things to the next level for me? Absolutely! Whether it was our garden, my fight with the township's super intendent, painting our corn hole boards, Joe takes my interests and runs with them to take them up a notch. 

8 years of marriage and we've definitely upped our crazy game, especially with the addition of our two little weirdos - and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

As Legend would say "All of me, loves all of you, all your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections" or as Charlie might say "Canonbop!"

Happy #8. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Lucky #7

Side note to start: As I write my annual Anniversary post, I realized two things: 1. I missed Year 6, sorry Gags and 2. I should do more food blogs to help me remember recipes/technique.

Here we are, Lucky #7. Sure, it hasn't been a great year in general, but I've been lucky.

Lucky to have gotten all this extra time to spend with our amazing family (between maternity leave and Covid-19, I've gotten to spend almost all of Bean's first year at home). Lucky to have the help of my mom (aka Zee Zee) with the kids so we could continue to work. Lucky that Joe tolerates listening to me tell the same joke 10x a day on the phone for work. Lucky that both I and our family have continued to stay in good health. Lucky we not only have food, but still have tasty food on the menu frequently. Lucky we can still do things like take socially distant "vacations". 

Lucky, that today marks 7 years of being married to a guy who pushes me to be the best version of myself, while being my biggest cheerleader. Lucky that he still makes me belly laugh all the time. Lucky, he's always planning adventures for our family. Most importantly though, lucky he changes most of Charlotte's poop diapers, which smell like a small rodent died.

You know I couldn't just be sweet and end it on a sappy note. Happy Lucky #7 Joe.

"Vacation" is strong for outings with the two girls, but I love it anyways.

Friday, August 31, 2018

5 Years and 30 lbs. Later

Well, this used to be a food blog. Now it's just an annual recap of what's happened since we've been married. So, I present to you...5 Years Anniversary Blog: Food (and Nugz) Edition.

Our first apple picking adventure as a family.
Did a test flight out to Savannah and ate a lot of biscuits.
Saw a lot of Broadway...including one about a Waitress.

Started our tradition of making pancakes on the weekend!

Lots of grilling and chilling.

Including the "Summer of Paella"

Made our way to Taiwan to eat yummy food and introduce Bethany to her great-grandparents.
Ate a lot of "mangu". 
Went for fancy dinners as a family at very odd hours, including Aunt Tracy's Pagu.

A  lot has changed over 5 years, but what will never change is how much I love sharing a good meal with you. Happy 5 year dude.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What is an Anniversary? Year 4 Edition

Here it is Gags: The annual "here's a post because I didn't remember our anniversary" post. Except this year, I totally did remember...sort of. I'll be honest, I was a terrible wife this year in my attempt to be a somewhat decent mother. It's been the year of the Notorious BYG - I know it, you know it, and we all know my Dad definitely knows it. Thanks for being a great husband and an even better father through it all. I don't know much about being a parent, but I do know, I constantly feel blessed that I get to be a parent with you.

While I always feel a little guilt for not caring about our anniversary, I'm comforted by the fact that we've always known the only real event we need to celebrate is my birthday (and well, now Bethany's birthday, too). So here it is - the year of BYG:

Daddy's girl from day 1.

First Family Christmas!
A rare night out for Hamilton!
Gagnon Family Trip to Maine.
Out in Tahoe - just the two of us (well and some friends)!
Thanks for being the best friend a girl could have in the journey called life. Happy 4 years!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jalapeno Jammy Time

When we finally pulled our garden last fall, we ended up with a couple pounds of green jalapenos. Since I had already dried a bunch of ghost chilies, I decided I wanted to do something slightly different with the jalapenos. If they were red, we'd make some homemade sriracha (via this Serious Eats recipe), but as they were not, I had some fun making jalapeno jam.
Abundance of jalapenos!

Sweet & Spicy
Jalapeno Jammy Time
  • 2 lbs green jalapenos (if you must, remove the seeds, but I like the heat!)
  • 3-4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 limes (zested and juiced)
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 packet Sure Jell liquid fruit pectin (3 oz)
  1. Using a food processor, finely chop the jalapenos.

  2. Transfer them to a pot and stir in sugar, cider vinegar, lime juice and zest and salt. Heat over medium-heat until it boils and reduce the heat to low for 10-12 minutes. Stir constantly.
Doesn't look great, but tastes wonderful.
  1. Turn the heat on high until it boils - stir in the pectin and boil for another minute. Continue to stir, and then remove from heat.
  2. Let cool. You can can these or if you know you'll devour it quickly, just stick it in the fridge.
    Big jar for me and a lil' jar for my mother!
This tastes great with stinky and salty cheeses. It's also good as a spread on sandwiches.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

"Lactation" Cookies a.k.a Feel-Good Oatmeal Cookies

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I'm trying to breastfeed and haven't been able to produce enough milk. Everyone has a theory on how to produce more milk:
  • Grandma says to drink soup
  • Mom says to drink soup and eat papaya
  • The lovely lady who's daughter owns my Saturday donut bakery said to eat apples
  • Friends suggested lactation cookies / eating oatmeal
I did a little research, there's not much science to any of the above. Really all you can do is pump / feed more to create more supply (your boobs believe in economic equilibrium, they produce as much supply as there is demand).

But that didn't stop me from making these cookies. I tweaked a couple of recipes I found online and came up with the below. Really, it's all about adding some "nutritional" value to cookies and all the cookies were oatmeal based. While they probably aren't helping me produce much milk, they are a great quick snack!

"I'll Make a Cow Out of You" Cookies
  • 1 1/2 C Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 3/4 C AP Flour
  • 3 T Nutritional Yeast (Optional)
  • 2 T Ground Flaxseed (Optional)
  • 2 T Wheat Germ (Optional)
  • 1/4 t Baking Powder
  • 1/4 t Baking Soda
  • 1 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Kosher Salt
  • 6 T Unsalted Butter (Room Temperature)
  • 2 T Coconut Oil (or an additional 2 T of Butter)
  • 1/4 C Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 C Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 C Unsweetened Coconut (Optional)
  • 1/3 C Chopped Walnuts (Optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix together oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream together butter and coconut oil. Once mixed, add the sugar and beat until "fluffy". Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients (1/4 of the mixture at a time) to keep it from flying everywhere. Once it's all combined, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts (you can substitute any of the mix-ins for whatever you like). I use a cookie scoop, but if you don't have one, I'd make about a 1 in. size ball and squish it half way down (these cookies don't really spread). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a minute before letting them fully cool on a wire rack. I store these for about a week (and by store, I mean, I will eat them over the course of a week).

They're an easier sell to others if you don't call them lactation cookies. Joe eats one every day.

"Who is Mom? I'm just happy to see my Cow"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Recipe: Notorious Chex Mix

This Chex Mix made its original appearance at Notorious BYG's baby shower in NJ. I've been tinkering with the recipe for weeks and I think I'm finally happy with it. It's definitely #yugagnonstyle, just like BYG.

Notorious Chex Mix


  • 3 C Corn Chex Cereal
  • 4 C Crispix Cereal
  • 2 C Wheat Chex Cereal
  • 1.5 C Cheerios Cereal
  • 1 C Peanuts
  • 1 C Cashews
  • 1 C Pretzel Pieces (unsalted if you can find it!)
  • 2 T Sesame Seeds
  • 2 T Seaweed Flakes (optional)
  • 4 T Melted Butter
  • 2 T Soy Sauce
  • 2 t Sesame Oil
  • 3 T Furikake Seasoning (Urashima's Furikake Teriyaki Bonito is my favorite)
  • 3 T Brown Sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 250°F. In a large bowl mix the cereals, nuts, pretzels, sesame seeds and seaweed flakes. In a measuring cup, mix the melted butter with the soy sauce, sesame oil, furikake seasoning and brown sugar. Once the liquids and seasonings are thoroughly mixed, used one hand to drizzle the mixture into the bowl with the cereal and use the other clean hand to toss the mixture furiously (BYG would!) to ensure even coating. Once the two mixtures are combined - pour it onto a baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Bake for 1 hour, giving it a stir every 15 minutes. Once cool, you can store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (but I'll bet it won't last that long!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Next Chapter of the Fat Kid Life

So we begin maternity leave. Food posts will ensue once I get the hang of managing an infant's schedule. Be ready for bagels, specialty Chex Mix, etc. I'm feeling ambitious for the next 15 weeks.

As I'm re-entering the blogging world, the mix of posts will be a little more varied. It'll mostly be about food, but there will be a dabbling of Notorious B.Y.G. posts as well.

I've been very fortunate through this pregnancy. Not only did I have friends who already had children, but also friends who were pregnant as well, so I was surrounded by a wealth of support and was able to crowd source answers to all my burning questions. I also had my family nearby, who would deliver home made meals and come take walks with me towards the end of my pregnancy. Most importantly, I had Joe, who rubbed my feet every night, randomly left me sweet notes, and was my rock every time I freaked out about something (which was all the time). For all of this, I am extremely grateful.

I think there are things everyone knows about pregnancy, but here are some of the things I learned that I wish someone had just told me before hand, so I was more prepared:

  1. You basically lose all dignity. You constantly pee or leak fluid during contractions (so you're always wetting the bed). You need help to pee because you have an IV attached to you. You get over it quickly because you're in a lot of pain.
  2. We all know that labor is painful, but the recovery is just as bad (especially if you take an epidural, I'd argue that recovery is almost worse). You're organs are trying to get back into their normal spots, you continue to bleed non-stop, moving around is hard, sitting is hard (if you had stitches and they're still healing), and you have to mentally prepare for bowel movements for the first week (trust me on this).
  3. Use your hospital resources. It's ok to not know how to do anything with the baby. We had amazing nurses that taught us everything. They hooked us up with lots of supplies to get us through the first week at home. There's no shame in asking for help. I hit the nurse call button at least 10x a day. I had them there at every feed to show me again how to nurse a baby. If you want a pain killer - take it. Hospitals aren't going to give you anything that's harmful to you or the baby (it's too large a liability for them). I learned more in the two days at the hospital than in any class or by reading any blog, etc. 
  4. Everyone tells you, you should breastfeed. What no one says is that breastfeeding is tough and can be extremely painful. If you're like me, you don't produce enough to satiate your child. There's no shame in taking formula, people make you feel like there is, but there isn't. I accidentally starved Bethany for 36 hrs because I didn't think I should use formula. Then I cried uncontrollably at the thought that I was starving her. Sure, there are benefits to breast milk, but a full milk drunk baby is a happy baby, so do what you got to do.
  5. You will cry uncontrollably, both mom and dad (or at least feel very emotional). It's ok, go for it. There will be times in the first week, you just want to quit because the baby won't stop screaming. You'll feel like you're already a bad parent. Post-partum depression is real - I think different people feel it to different extents and in different ways. Joe reminded me every day that I was doing great, my friends told me things were going to get easier, and all of that was true. Old acquaintances reached out with words of encouragement and people constantly checked in to see how I was doing. Having a good support system is everything.
Finally, I leave you with this. Everyone's got an opinion. You can listen to them and evaluate them, but do what's right for you and the baby. Take some precautions, but mommy instincts will kick in quickly. 

This little one is already everything to Joe and me. I can't believe for the last month this full human was living inside me! Also, how can you love something so much instantly?

Bethany Yu Gagnon. 8 lbs. 5 oz. 20.5 inches born 10/9/16.
10 days later! She already looks so different.
She loves her Daddy. The best part of her day is skin-to-skin time with Daddy.
We're in for a lifetime of battles. It starts with breastfeeding!
Yes, I still have a teddy bear and I'm not ashamed. I'll pretend it belongs to Bethany.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

3 of Us to Celebrate Year 3

I hope we're always this awkward and this happy in life.
Life has been insanely busy preparing for the arrival of our little monkey. It's been a race to fix up the house and to make sure we have everything a baby needs. In between that, we've (read: Joe's) been tending to our garden and I've been trying to keep up with our abundance of tomatoes and basil.

That Tomato Life.
Over the past month, I've worked more hours than a pregnant lady should and when I told Joe "see you in September", I wasn't kidding. When we were both at home we were running around preparing the house for the baby shower (thanks Mom, Mama G, and Liz for hosting!) or preparing little monkey's room. During our Sunday Night Facetime session with Joe's parents, Mama G said, "and you have an anniversary coming up" - to which I thought to myself, "SHIT!" How did I completely whiff on our anniversary again?

Three years have flown by, and to date, the best decision I ever consciously made...was going to Boston College. I found some of my best friends and my wonderful husband there.

Thanks for always letting me over order at new restaurants (because there's a chance I never go back):
Probably too much food for two people...
Hosting parties where I make enough food for twice as many guests...
Part 1 of a 2-Part Party (CNY and SuperBowl)
Tolerate my absolute goofiness...(and often participate...)
Looking sexy as always.
But most of all, thank you for your constant support. From always holding my purse to always holding my hand - there's no one I'd rather have as my partner in crime. As we expand our family to include a third, I know she's one lucky monkey to have a father like you.
She'll understand - BC plays on Saturdays.
Happy Anniversary. I'm sure I'll forget again next year.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Overdue Update: BBQ, Birthday, and a Baby

It's been awhile since I've updated the blog, but as we settle into our new house and I have some more time, I've decided to give it another go.

So friends - let's catch up.

Last post, I bought a house in NJ, and then spent most of the fall working on it. 

In October I got to help co-host my sister-in-laws baby shower (I was in charge of food), with a menu consisting of wontons with chili oil, marinated cucumber salad, chicken satay, and pork belly BLT sliders on homemade Parker house rolls. Ask me to make you Parker house rolls - they're tasty.

Another Giants fan getting added to the clan.
Re-imagined BLT: Bourbon glazed pork belly, sun-dried tomato spread on a fresh Parker house roll.
Then in December - my niece was born!
Nugget, only a couple days after birth.
At the end of the year - we went to Taiwan.
Crossing the bridge to what was a pretty tough hike in Taroko Gorge!
Eat with Daddy Yu's Family.

Eat with Grandma and Grandpa Kung.
Eat tasty beef noodle soup.
On this trip, Joe and I were constantly asked when we were going to have kids. Grandparents want to be great-grandparents, and family members want to see a cute mixed baby. We kept mum about our plans.

Then we went to Japan and ate sushi at 5:45 in the morning, after waiting since 3:30 a.m.
Raw fish for breakfast? YES PLEASE.
In February, Joe and I hosted our first Chinese New Years / Super Bowl!
Feast from the East.
Am I glowing in that picture?...because February was also when Joe and I found out...
I was pregnant! With our Little Monkey! (Who will have to be a Red Sox fan, unfortunately,)
We told my parents when Liz was back for a weekend, and told Joe's family over Easter.
I tried to capture the surprise, we got everyone ready for a photo, and I said, on on the count of three say, "Vicky's Pregnant"... As you can see, everyone just smiled for the photo...until someone said..."Wait, really?"
In April we did a babymoon in Nashville.
I could eat Loveless cafe biscuits all day.
We did a cave tour to walk off some of the mass biscuit consumption.
In April the nugget also came to visit us.
Wow she's growing fast!
May happened and now June. I got to throw my first BBQ, turn 29, and tell the world about Little Monkey!
Ribs in the BGE are $.
Have to have Mama Yu style corn.
Sausage sliders with onions and peppers.
Shrimp skewers.
Steak tips marinated in garlic, soy, balsamic, and maple syrup.
Cake TIME!
Group photo!
Three (one was hiding) generations of Kung women :)

Family Love.

Our wonderful cake made by our local bakery.
Making a wish!
It's a....GIRL!
So that's what's happened over the last 8 months. Now that we're all caught up, get ready for some more food posts as our garden comes in!