How do I Celebrate Chinese New Year in 2021?

Welcome back to my Bryn Mawr Blog. This is Jacqueline. I will share with you how I celebrate Chinese New Year in 2021. As many might know, it’s a tradition to eat dumplings on any major Chinese festivals. Since I’m not a big fan of dumplings, I will do something else: hotpot.


There are pre-made hot pot base, which usually has butter, but I’m vegan, which means that I don’t consume any animal product, so I make my own soup base. You can also use plain water.


Soup Base:

  • [ ] vegetable bouillon
  • [ ] garlic
  • [ ] ginger
  • [ ] dried mushroom
  • [ ] spice
    • [ ] soy sauce
    • [ ] five-spice powder
    • [ ] white pepper
    • [ ] dry chili pods
    • [ ] chili flakes


  • [ ] potato
  • [ ] sweet potato
  • [ ] white radish (白萝卜)
  • [ ] lotus root (藕)
  • [ ] bamboo shoot (笋)
  • [ ] leafy greens of your choice
    • [ ] spinach
    • [ ] napa cabbage (白菜)
    • [ ] crown daisy (茼蒿)


  • [ ] king oyster mushroom(杏鲍菇)
  • [ ] enoki mushroom (金针菇)

Soy Product:

  • [ ] frozen tofu (冻豆腐)
  • [ ] tofu skin (腐皮)


  • [ ] yam noodles(魔芋)
  • [ ] glass noodles (粉丝)
  • [ ] vegan meatball
  • [ ] seitan


  • boil a pot of water and put in every ingredient of soup base
  • boil for a few minutes until the fragrance comes out
  • prepare other ingredients
    • cut vegetables in thin slices (except leafy greens)
    • cut king oyster in thick slices
    • rip enoki mushrooms into pieces
    • cut tofu skin in segments
  • start enjoying the hotpot
    • put the things that need most time to cook first

Thoughts on Traditions

I’m not a big fan of traditions. I don’t stick to something just because it’s a tradition. Not having dumplings might be important for someone else, but it’s not a big deal for me. I believe what is common doesn’t mean that it’s right or natural. For example, it’s a tradition to light firecrackers but now it’s well established that they do serious damage to the environment. It’s also a tradition to have Hong Shao Kao Fu (红烧烤麸), made of seitan, on the New Year’s Eve dinner because it has the same pronunciation of “depending on the husband”, which is obviously an obsolescent idea.

How do Vegans Celebrate?

I believe every vegan faces this problem in their journey. They are excited to celebrate a holiday with families and friends but only to find that almost all dishes are meat or fish. Such problem exist because we eat food more than their nourishment. People attach meanings to food so we also have cultural and emotional attachment to them. As the meaning can be given to food, it can also be withdrawn. If certain dishes are just a tradition that I’m not fond of, I don’t bother to think about it. If I absolutely love certain dishes, I will try veganize them, by replacing the meat with plant-based meat or soy products.



How to Grow Your Own Food

Hello, Mawrters. This is Jacqueline and welcome to my Bryn Mawr Blog. In this blog, I will present you with why it’s important to produce one’s own food and two simple and fun ways to do that.

I’m someone who grow up in the city, so the only place I get food is from the grocery store. I’ve never spend time wondering where the food come from. But a few months into the quarantine, I start wondering if I could grow something on my own.

Thus, here are reasons why you should try grow food for yourself and a step-by-step tutorial in almost any living condition. You can certainly do this in a dorm room.

Why Grow Your Own Food?

Good For the Environment

First of all, I have faith in Earth’s capability to heal herself and I don’t believe that human can “save the plant”, like magically stop the climate change. But what we human can do is to minimize our living impact on Earth, such as reducing carbon footprint, so that Earth has a better environment to restore herself. Growing your own food can help in the process by reducing the cost of transportation and packaging.

Good Your Physical and Mental Health

The freshness of the food is, not to mention, beneficial for your physical health. But surprisingly, it is also beneficial for the mental health. Getting in touch with nature is itself therapeutic. In addition, it builds up a routine, which makes people more resilient. For example, the first thing I get up and the last thing I go to bed is to look after my plants. Establishing such routine creates a safe space in times of uncertainty. It means that I don’t have to convince myself that I live in a safe world, but that my piece of it is safe.

What are Sprouts and Microgreens

If we think of the produce we usually consume are at their full maturity, then sprouts are at their baby stage and microgreens are at their teenage stage.

Start with Sprouts

There are tons of sprouts growing kit that you can purchase online. But you could also assemble your own growing kit from what you probably already have at home.

You Need:

  • [ ] A Jar, such as mason jar: preferably the transparent ones so that you can observe how they are growing.
  • [ ] A piece of cloth that can strain, such as nut milk bag
  • [ ] A container to hold the excess water
  • [ ] seeds: I’d suggest you start with bigger seeds, such as radish seeds, lentils, or popcorn


  • Soak small amount of seeds in the jar overnight. (since the volume will grow enormously, one to two tablespoons of seeds are enough for a regular mason jar)
  • Drain the water using the strainer. (I’d recommend put the strainer on the jar with a hair tie)
  • Then rinse the seeds and put back to somewhere dark. Keep the jar at an angle in order to drain any excess water.
  • repeat the rinsing process twice for three to four days.

*The best environment for the sprouts to grow is moist, but not wet. Thus, it’s important to let any excess water out and not let the seeds drown.

Then Try Microgreens

You Need:

  • [ ] Two containers, such as takeout container.
  • [ ] Soil OR Cloth Towel
  • [ ] Seeds: I recommend start with salad green mix
  • [ ] Spray Bottle (optional)


  • Drain several holes in one container and test whether water can come through.
  • Put two containers together with the one with holes on top.
  • Put soil or cloth towel into the container with holes and then thoroughly water it.
  • Scatter the seeds evenly. When you see seeds cluster together, you can use your hands to spread them out. Then use spray bottle to water the seeds again.
  • Water twice every day. You can water with the spraying bottle. You can also lift up the container with holes and put water in the one without. I find bottom watering, the latter, to be better.
  • Then you can harvest in seven to ten days.

*Keep the container in a dark place for the first few days until seeds sprouts, so that they can have a solid base. Or they could become too leggy.



Lesson I Learnt from Gardening

Hello Marters and welcome back to my Bryn Mawr Blog. This is Jacqueline. My last blog is about growing your own food and in this blog, I will share with you several lessons I learnt while growing them.

You can’t be 100% prepared. Just do it!

Before I start growing anything, I watch numerous video tutorials. I was so worried that I would do anything wrong. I didn’t start until I felt I was ready, but I wasn’t ready at all. The first difficulty I encounter is to scatter the seeds evenly. If the seeds are cluttered together, then the microgreens will be crowded at one place and sparse at another. This is something I didn’t expect because in all the video I’ve watched, this process is so easy. But I later figure out how you can spread them out with your hands or use the help of a spice jar. It teaches me not to worry about a perfect start, but instead start doing it and then you will learn in the process.

Mother Nature is Generous and Forgiving.

When I plant the microgreens for the first time, I underwater and then overwater them. For the first few days, I just use the spray bottle to spray several times, which is way less than what they need. After I find it not working, I water them more frequently, thus sometimes I might overwater them. In addition, my room doesn’t have any south-facing windows so there is no direct sunlight. With a shadowy environment and various watering issues, my first batch of microgreens still turn out to be fine. They are definitely not the most successful ones I’ve grow but they are decent.

What Appears Good is Not Always Good.

As mentioned in the last lesson, my room doesn’t get enough light and I didn’t have any professional grow light. So I put my plants under my lamp. The light does help them to grow better at first but I later find them to be too leggy. After doing my research, I learnt that the light needs to be only one or two inch above the plants so that they could get enough light but also not to stretch themselves to reach for the light. This observation reminds me that what appears good is not always good and what looks bad is not necessarily bad.

Struggle isn’t Always a Bad Thing

In the last blog, I note that it’s important to keep the microgreens in a dark place until they sprout so that they could have solid root system. If they are exposed to light from the beginning, they don’t struggle to get any light and their roots would be weak. Weak root system might not be too much a problem for microgreens, but it is for plants harvest at more mature stage. For the microgreens who don’t have light for the first few days, they struggle a lot compared to those who get light from the beginning, but in the time of struggling, they build up a solid root system that is fundamental for their further growth. Thus, the next time I feel myself struggling in a difficult situation, I can remind myself of this observation and convince myself that struggle is not always a bad thing.

Recognize the Failed Attempts

During the seed starting phrase, I put two or three seeds into one hole so that at least something will come out. Having more number of seeds than the number of holes means that not every seed has the chance of sprouting and too often the one that sprouted gets noticed and the one that didn’t sprout get ignored. It reminds me to pay attention to the attempts that didn’t work out and don’t be afraid of failing.

Staying in the Present Moment

When I first scatter the seeds, I get really excited and can’t help but envisioning what it is like to see them grow. As they are growing, I couldn’t wait to harvest them. After harvesting, I try out different dishes to consume them as soon as possible. And after that, I miss growing them. In this whole process, my mindset is inconsistent with what’s happening in reality. I’m either a step ahead or behind. I always worry about what will happen next or miss what did happen. I didn’t enjoy the process. Growing plants is a reminder for me to relax and stay in the present moment: to enjoy seeing them growing everyday, to enjoy consuming them in different dishes.





My Go-To Dish for Meal Prep

Welcome back to my Bryn Mawr Blog. This is Jacqueline. As the semester starts, I want to share my favorite go-to dish for meal prep. This is not a specific recipe. I don’t like one and I never follow one. I just want to share some ideas that could inspire you to make your unique version.


  • [ ] onion
  • [ ] garlic


  • [ ] potato
  • [ ] sweet potato
  • [ ] carrot
  • [ ] mushroom


  • [ ] white rice
  • [ ] brown rice (soak overnight)
  • [ ] lentils
  • [ ] quinoa


  • [ ] chickpeas
  • [ ] black beans
  • [ ] kidney beans
  • [ ] corn
  • [ ] peas


  • [ ] curry powder
  • [ ] turmeric powder: to add some gold color and for its health benefits
  • [ ] coconut milk: to make it more creamy

Leafy Greens

  • [ ] spinach
  • [ ] kale
  • [ ] microgreens


  • put some oil in the pan
  • chop the onion and garlic and put in when the oil is heat up
  • chop vegetables into cubes and put into the pan
  • wash the grains thoroughly and put into the pan
  • then put the beans in
    • If it’s dried beans, you need to soak overnight
    • If it’s canned beans, then rinse it
  • add water or vegetable broth
  • add the curry powder
  • cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender (meaning you can easily put a fork through the potato)
  • then add the leaf greens and cook for another one or two minutes
  • then serve with some sesame seeds or microgreens

*I love to mix several kinds of grains to add some texture.

*Add the food that need more time to cook first. Leafy greens only need a minute or two.

*You can also cook without grains and serve with noodles or any bread.

The combination is endless. Use your imagination! Happy Cooking.



Movie Review: Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul

Welcome back to my Bryn Mawr Blog. This is Jacqueline. I will share with you my two recent favorite movies: 1984 Wonder Woman and Soul.

Wonder Woman 1984

A stone can make wishes comes true with a price. For example, Diana wishes for Steve to come back with the cost of losing her power. A villain makes himself the stone and asks everyone to make a wish. The cost is that the world will end and the only way to save humankind is for everyone to renounce their wishes.

No one alone can save the world

No matter how strong or how determined Wonder Woman is, she can’t save the world on her own. She can only save the world by convincing everyone else to join her and renounce their wishes.

It reminds me so much of the world now. There is no single button to push that can stop COVID-19 or climate change, but there is still chance if every single person assumes their responsibility.

The Power of Acceptance

Wonder Woman’s speech is such a touching scene and it reminds me so much of the power of acceptance.

Acceptance doesn’t mean give up.

Acceptance is often misunderstood as giving up or not changing but it actually releases you from the uncomfortable emotions and feeling and lets you see things as they truly are. It’s only after you accept how things are in the current state that you can start to change them.

Accept what we can’t change

There are things that are beyond our capability to change, such as the childhood poverty or divorced parents, but there are things, such as beliefs and abilities, that are within our control. Recognizing what we can and can’t control boosts the character resilience and makes our lives flourish.


Joe who loves jazz died and his soul went to a place where new souls get their personalities. He meets 22, who has been there a long time and has difficulty understanding the human experience. Joe helps 22 discover passion, like what jazz means to Joe, but 22 can’t find any and only enjoys seeing the leaves fall down from the tree.

You don’t need to find THE interest.

We are so used to the narrative that someone find their one thing and then live a happy life ever after. I do believe that it might be true for a very few gifted people but it’s not true for most people. You can have no passion at all, or you can have multiple passions.

For example, I am someone who has too much interests and passions. I was interested in art history and anthropology in high school. I was and still am interested in psychology and chose it as my major. During the quarantine, I’m interested in drawing, vegan cooking and baking, and gardening. I used to think that it’s a process I need to go through so that I can find the one thing that I’m absolutely crazy about. But now I realize there is no such thing at the end and what matters the most is the process.

Learn to Appreciate Life Itself

The scene when 22 finds a piece of pizza tastes good and where 22 enjoys watching the leave fall down is so affecting. We are so obsessed with external possessions and validation, like getting better scores at school or making more money at work, and assume that we will be happy after the goal is met. But in the process of pursuing such goals, we lost contact with the present moment and forgets to appreciate life itself. I’d love to appreciate how the heart always pumps for me even though I often stay up late. I appreciate how the stomach consume whatever I put in even though I often consume more than enough. I appreciate that it’s snowing while I was writing this blog and I’m able to stay somewhere warm to appreciate this beautiful snow scene.

Lastly, even though these two movies are not the most cinematically pleasant movie, they are the products of this post-COVID era. Happy Watching.