Monthly Archives: December 2013

Call Ho-Ho-Home Dear’s alternative holiday mix

December 20, 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 2.56.14 AM

Sick of getting your ears blasted with the usual annual mix of stodgy seasonal tunes?

We’ve compiled a mix of festive (and some vaguely festive) seasonal tunes to lift you out of Live Aid/ Shakin’ Stevens despair.

From the sounds of John McClane’s limo ride to the Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard (Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis) to the contemplative (Palace Songs - Christmastime in the Mountains) and the just plain bizarre (Beck – The Little Drum Machine Boy), kick back to a roaring fire screensaver and turn up the volume.

You can listen along to the mixtape on SoundCloud here.

Low – Just Like Christmas
Mercury Rev – Endlessly
Bright Eyes – Blue Christmas
Sufjan Stevens – Ding Dong (That Was The Worst Christmas Ever)
Poor Moon – Holiday
Palace Songs – Christmastime in the Mountains
Calexico – Gift X-Change
Beck – The Little Drum Machine Boy
Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis

Bad Religion – White Christmas


How to grow Oyster mushrooms at home: Part 2

December 17, 2013



(In case you missed Part 1, check it out here.)

2 weeks later: X marks the spot

It’s 2 weeks later and time to cut X’s in your feed bags full of white mycelium-covered substrate. Take a box cutter and cut X’s in 2-inch long slits. Slice about four X’s in each square caging part (the part of the caging that we cut to be big enough for a fist-sized clump to grow comfortably, remember?). The X’s will send in sunlight and oxygen, essentially alerting the mushrooms that it’s ok to grow in this location. After the X’s are cut, it’s time to wait. You might see fruiting in as soon as 1 week or as late as 4 weeks. Make sure to check the mushroom bags every 4 or so days and soak under water if they start to get a little dry. You want to make sure your bags are moist all the time so the mycelium can do their thing. I put my bags in the shower every so often, opened the top of the bags, and gave them a good soak. This worked out pretty well, but there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people keep them hanging in the shower so that each time the hot water is on, the substrate absorbs the steam, and they don’t have to worry about watering the bags.


^^Little pinheads on the way to fruitation

The First Fruiting:

A week went by after I cut my X’s and nothing happened. Then two weeks went by and still nothing. Three weeks and the same thing. At this point I figured I did something wrong, and it was probably a lost cause… until one day when Dad called to tell me, “Holy crap! There’s something exploding out of the side of the bag you left in my bathroom!” Sure enough, the chandelier I hung at Dad’s house was going crazy fruiting oyster mushrooms. Figures Dad would get the first fruiting without doing anything to soak them or care for them – I knew we’d be naturals at this fungi gig.

I ran to go look at my bag and saw nothing. Then I turned the bag around to reveal multiple fist-sized clumps of mushrooms. They were growing towards the wall so I hadn’t noticed them. I looked at my other bags and they were exploding with mushrooms too. I called my brother and his were fruiting too!


The mushrooms grew from pinheads to full-size in 3-7 days… talk about a growth-spurt.
You can stack your chandeliers in a laundry basket…
Or you can put it in a plant stand, hang it in your shower or wherever you’d like to keep them. 
^^It’s time to harvest when they stop doubling in size every day. These got about twice as big in a few more days. Then we ate them.
^^Aslyn, my other housemate, posing with a freshly harvested clump of oyster mushrooms.


Once your mushrooms have stopped doubling in size each day (not an exaggeration), cup each clump with your hands and give them a good turn clockwise until they break off. It’s as simple as that. Keep it moist after harvest so it can fruit again. Ours has been fruiting every month or so. The bags will continue to fruit until all the spawn is used up, or spent, or until another fungi / contaminate decides to make your bag a home (hopefully this won’t happen, though, if everything is sterile from the start). Make sure to compost the nutrient-rich substrate when the chandeliers are spent. It’ll do wonders for your soil.


^^Our 4 pounds of harvested oyster mushrooms, the total from our first fruiting experience (3 bags worth). Note the pecan in the lower left corner for scale!


Want to learn more about mycelium?

Check out these tell-me-everything resources:

(We might love Paul Stamets.) And check back soon! We’ll be showing you how to add flavor to your cooking with those mushrooms you just grew at home.

Fairies, fake snow and Michael Jackson(s)

December 13, 2013


Hong Kongers love Christmas, and I mean LOVE Christmas. I don’t know how it happened, but this city lights up, skyscrapers and all, for the holiday season like nowhere else. Even my office building plays songs of frosty and sleighbells in the hallway (only slightly creepy) for the entire month of December. So to forward on all that love, here’s some photos from a charity craft fair Diarmuid and I went to last weekend:


^^Babies’ fears of that man in the red suit are universal, but grown-ups still persist.


^^This girl had the most amazing sugar plum fairy outfit. (I think that’s what she was anyway). Not that I’ve really seen that many, but hers was gorgeous, in a very “Hunger Games” way.

And what would Christmas be without some…  Michael Jackson(s)?


And a frosty made of legos, who happens to have a cute scarf?


^^And hand-made paper rainbows?



^^Please note father & son jailbird stripes. #trendspotting #funwithdad



^^The Michael Jackson(s) dancing was a highlight. They were a local group from Hong Kong and were crazy good.


^^Me and D.funny-kids-2

^^Next year we’ll pose like this. May the child-like wonder of Christmas be with you, always, my dear friends.
So, might you dare celebrate the holiday the Hong Kong way?! I say (as they say) go big or go home.