Posted in Food/Recipes, poetry

#Haiku – OctoTaco

Image by Jose V via Yelp

They call me Taco
Why? Am I a wannabe?
Identity fused

Linda G Hill – JusJoJan 2020 – Humor (Sadje)

Posted in Awards, awareness, Books, Concepts, Crafts, Culture, Dance, Dreams, Events, exercise, fiction, flashback, Food/Recipes, Freedom of Expression, Makeup, Music, Nature, Photography, poetry, Quotes, Social Justice, Technology, Volunteer Experiences

Twenty-Four Seven | Daily Inkling #7

Daily Inkling

Just when I think I’m going to be doing haikus for the rest of the year due to my tight schedule…

Blogger “Normal Happenings” has tagged me in an interesting challenge that seems to coincide with a random daily horoscope I received a few days ago from a free Vedic astrology app called Yodha. (By the way, I like your new branding! It’s bold and glowing like a neon sign. 🙂 )

Happy new year! For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! Thank you so much for following my blog, and I will be swinging by to read yours as well. I see a lot of new faces out there, and I just want to say hi! This is my fun, personal blog where I typically write about all sorts of subjects in a variety of formats: poetry, story, photo-story, music. I’m about to start another blog for school related stuff, but that’ll be shared on another post!

Image from Shivashakti

You may wonder how did I encounter Vedic astrology? Well! One day, I was chatting with a young lady about the staggering synchronicity in both our lives, and she told me about how she regularly talks to her Vedic astrologist for all sorts of decisions. She said that she made some of the best business decisions of her life with his guidance and that it is a lot more accurate than western astrology. I was skeptical because there are a lot of quacks out there as you well know, but intrigued nevertheless.

So, I downloaded the free Yodha Daily Horoscope app where authentic Vedic astrologists from Nepal share with you their insights. I started learning more about it. Apparently there are Indian universities that offer advanced courses in Vedic astrology despite scientists protesting about it being a pseudoscience. Jyotisha is the traditional system of Hindu astrology. Its etymology is from the Sanskrit term, “jyoti” meaning “light heavenly body”. The term Vedic astrology came about later around the 70s.

Below are the sort of messages I get. This is one I received this morning:

“Due to your nature, you are a rather positive person. You are someone who can find a silver lining in most of the situations. Perhaps you are aware of this gift and know how to implement it. At times, you can put a smile on your face even when the circumstances don’t naturally warrant it and in doing so you can spread good vibrations to others. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that not everyone has that gift and you may be dealing with someone who doesn’t. The planets are encouraging you to show how it’s done.”

Astrologer P. Bhattarai

Anyway, back to the horoscope that inspired this post! She mentioned how when time and money permits, I enjoy traveling to an exotic locale and experiencing new things. However, lately, I may be seeking a more spiritual experience which may not be a physical location: a journey to understand myself better, gain a deeper understanding of myself, be more conscious and aware. I thought Daily Inkling’s prompt might help me explore this arena!

Write 24 talking points between current you and you from seven years ago. Consider teaching yourself something you’ve picked up since then.

Twenty-four Seven

Seven years ago was the year 2013. A pivotal point in my life: the beginning of a lot of new things, drastic changes to my lifestyle. This is a rare occasion when all of my category boxes on my blog have been checked! I’ve chosen 24 random topics to discuss in no particular order: then vs. now!

1) Career

2013: Grocery store cashier – Served a lot of people from all walks of life! I love to meet new people and listening to their stories.

Image by Charles Thompson from Pixabay

2020: Technical writer for a cybersecurity firm & vacation business manager – nice balance between the two!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

2) Books

I read a lot of books during both years, but I’ll just mention two for now:

2013: Shantaram, an epic, philosophical tale of an Australian convict opening up clinics in the slums of India

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”

― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
Image by billy cedeno from Pixabay 

2020: The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to be Happy – People worldwide share unique testimonials of what made them happy

Optimism isn’t frivolous: it’s necessary. If we feel hopeless all the time, if we’re always in crisis, the natural response is to give up and stop trying altogether. But we can’t let snark win. Problems are there to be solved. Challenges, to be met. We can be aware of the bad while also being mindful of how we can make it better. … Empathy is essential, and learning what matters to people on the other side of the world helps us all. Understanding how different nations view happiness can impact how we interact with one another going forward.

Helen Russell
Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay 

3) Friendships

2013: Friends were there to lift my spirits, give me warm cup of tea when going through a new challenge, have fun in the cosplay contests at school. Really enjoyed checking out the Ghostbusters!

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

2020: All of the above still applies, but my friendships seem to have more depth and honesty. Also, true friendship has a way of helping me see things in myself that I didn’t think was capable.

5) Nature

2013: I took my family and friends to check out the Arboretum gardens in Dallas, TX during special holidays like Mother’s Day

Image by: Dallas Arboretum

2020: I hope to visit Vanderpool, TX sometime and bask in the warm glow of the “lost maple trees” during autumn

4) Love

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

2013: Infatuated by a gentle young man I met one beautiful autumn day while feeding the birds at the pier down by the lake. A rather electrifying meeting, though the relationship never developed due to my fear of commitment.

Image by philpace from Pixabay

2020: Enjoying a long term relationship of 4 years. Its been a dream come true filled fun adventures, humor, and passion with the normal ups and downs of life.

6) School

2013: Attended community college on a digital forensics academic track. The most memorable project was where I developed a website for a hypothetical geologist living in Colorado. He was studying various types of gemstones he found during his excavations. I researched stories of legends surrounding their origin.

Image by Robert Ramsay from Pixabay

2020: Currently working on an online masters program for technology and innovation management track. The most memorable project so far involved a hypothetical four million dollars granted to me to develop a civil engineering software application from start to finish.

Image by dewikinanthi from Pixabay

7) Volunteer Cause

2013: I worked with a group of friends with Habitat for Humanity. Learned a lot about house building and painting!

Glendale

2020: Currently helping a school teacher collect cans and plastics with the Rotary Club for a contest with Pepsi Co.

Novyy Urengoy, Russia – June 17, 2018: Bunch of different empty soda aluminium cans.

8) Music

2013
2020
2020

9) Recreation

2013: Had a thing for barre workouts!

Image from Haute Living

2020: About to do Hot Yoga with my cowokers!

Image by Sofie Zbořilová from Pixabay

10) Sustainability

2013: Back when Google+ was around, I heavily got involved with a sustainability discussion group for many hours. The discussions intrigued me. I wanted to learn how to be eco-friendly and be up to date with all of it.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

2020: I’m itching to get plugged into community initiatives regarding sustainability issues. They’re looking for ideas, and I hope to contribute in someway!

Image by 95C from Pixabay

11) Blogging

2013: I fancied the idea of being a student blogger on campus. I applied, but was turned down for the position. It may have been because the writing sample I sent was about the sound of a lovely bell ringing off in the distance as I was walking around the campus lake to class. Maybe they want more samples about student life? 🙂

Below is the walkway of the lovely campus I used to walk by often.

2020: Didn’t matter! Here I am blogging my heart out on my own without anyone else’s approval! I don’t know why I thought of it sooner! 😉

Blogging my thoughts has been a freeing, exciting experience. Thank you to my readers for making the experience so worthwhile!

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

12) Fashion Interests

2013: Bold floral-print Sunday dresses

Image from Popsugar

2020: Bandage skirts, Currently love them! Sorry no picture of me in them, but I love to wear them with leggings

Wheretogetit.com

13) Television

2013: 30 Rock, CSI Miami, Supernatural, Glee

Image by CW

2020: Meteor Garden, Witcher, Miraculous Lady Bug

Image by Otakucart

14) Movies

2013: Frozen, Iron Man III, Man of Steel, The Croods, Monsters University

Image by PixarPost

2020: Star Wars (2019), want to see Mulan, Artemis Fowl, Sonic

15) News

There were a lot of news stories that deeply affected me and my path trajectory.

2013: Nelson Mandela’s death, Boston Marathon bombing, Edward Snowden

Nelson Mandela was a leader whom I was captivated by. Boston Marathon and Edward Snowden prompted my interests in security.

2020: Hospital Janitor Forges Lasting Friendship Between Two Boys in Isolation After Noticing a Love of LEGOS

The news story above impacts me because it deals with one of my favorite childhood pastimes. My first major Lego project was a pirate ship. Always fascinated by adventure even then! Will be going to a Lego Brick Fiesta event with some friends this year to indulge in this interest!

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

16) Sports

2013: Followed Maria Sharapova tennis matches quite a bit since I practiced developing my forearm swing at the tennis courts!

The Guardian

2020: I might go check out some Spurs basketball players play! Matt Bonner signed my basketball. He was so down-to-earth and friendly!

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 25: Matt Bonner #15 of the San Antonio Spurs drives the ball against Trevor Ariza #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at the Staples Center on January 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Spurs 99-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

17) Technology

2013: I was really curious about consumer drones. Always felt tempted to buy one to take awesome aerial photos and videos from the sky!

Phantom Quadcoptor

2020: Right now, I’m super curious about the Click and Grow smart garden!

Image from Click and Grow

18) Favorite Hang-out spots

2013: White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX

I enjoyed walking sections around this park almost every day. Seeing the scenery change with the seasons is a great beauty. I once walked around the whole park which took four hours! There are some incredibly beautiful views, expansive hiking trails, fishing spots. There’s also a well known ghost story as well about the Lady of White Rock Lake! One of my favorite memories is sitting on a wooden bench on top of a hill and seeing the sunset as the breeze is blowing the tall grasses.

Image from Applespice

2020: Riverwalk & Pearsall Park in San Antonio, TX

I enjoy walking downtown and checking out the riverboats with curious spectators gliding by in this river. At night, it’s bustling with tourist activity. Families and couples are dining in the restaurants. Some of my favorite memories here was when my brother visited me and we got to listen to a beautiful mariachi band singing a lovely serenade and when my boyfriend and I celebrated Christmas slow dancing in the island platform.

Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
Image by: Thrillist

I love to go jogging here with my exercise buddy early mornings! The fields and the hills are incredible. Breathing in the fresh cold air is refreshing.

Pearsall Park, San Antonio, TX

19) Languages

2013: I was trying to continue my Spanish studies on Babbel

Image by Babbel

2020: Duolingo’s mascot, a little owl, has been guiding me in learning Spanish and Vietnamese basics. It’s been fun learning from their podcasts too!

Image by Duolingo

20) Theatre

2013: For an English literature assignment, I had the opportunity to watch a live Shakespearean comedic play, Taming of the Shrew.

2020: Curious about the Miss Saigon musical in town!

21) Environment

2013: Fascinated by Google’s chart that compiled deforestation rates by country

2020: Currently checking out Mongobay’s environmental snippet summary

Image by Mongobay – Lemurs!

22) Health

2013: Learned about Healthcare.gov’s crashing website as millions of Americans tried to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Stress is relative though!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

2020: Everyone around me is getting the flu! Got my flu shot. Learning about personalized AI medical care innovations

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

23) Games

2013: Played Juice Cubes a bit!

2020: Curious about Smash Hit and Megaman Zero!

24) Quote I lived by

2013: Eleanor Roosevelt impacted me from an early age.

Do the thing you think you cannot do. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

2020: Right now, these below! More to come later!

Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction

Germany Kent

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Socrates
Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

 That was fun! See you soon everyone! Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

Posted in Food/Recipes, Music, Nature, Photography, Quotes

Life’s Too Short

“We only have one life and one body to care of, and we better do it right. You never know what tomorrow may bring and so we better live this life the best we can and be grateful for everything we have.”

Novak Djokovic

I want to wish all of my readers a very happy Thanksgiving! Life outside the blog-o-sphere has been very busy. Tried a confetti creamed corn recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for a few potluck dinners I was invited to, and though it doesn’t quite look like her pictures 😉 it was still a great hit!

Rory’s Challenge? 3 quotes. 2 songs. 1 image…
Once again, I over-delivered! Take care everyone! ❤

Rory’s 321 Quote Me
Beautiful mellow sentiments
Enjoying my varied tropical music jams! ❤
Chill Your Mind background music – Summer as a mindset! 🙂
Snapshot of my new cute bracelet that my women’s fellowship gifted me with!
Image Credit: Pinterest
Posted in fiction, Food/Recipes, poetry

#OctPoWriMo7- Sweet Treat

Sanguine, scintillating, sassy, stylish salesgirl
Salivating over savory, scrumptious, special sweets.
Satisfying sensual show of soulful spirit.

Daydreaming of dazzling debonair in deeply daring drama!
Dynamic, dainty darling desires
decadent, delicious, delightful, delectable desserts.

Charmingly cheerful cultivated connoisseur
Capering in a captivating cabaret chasing a chocolate cake!
Celebrating confections with colorful confetti!

#OctPoWriMo7 – Tongue Twister
Posted in fiction, flashback, Food/Recipes, Photography, poetry, Quotes

#OctPoWriMo2 – Morphing into a Gourmand

A mother was once frustrated!
Still unsalted
Picky eater
Desired sweeter

Are you a little changeling?
Fairy humming?
Not wanting food?
I can just brood!

Surprised to see a growing girl
Giving a twirl
Eating a lot
A food for thought

Nuggets of Gold: Tuesday’s Thoughts

Good evening! I experimented with minute poetry today as I was pondering on this quote above while eating some French onion soup with seasoned toast tonight in a charming restaurant downtown. Like the fairy girl in this story, I was once a picky eater, but now I sometimes can be a gourmand. I need to slow down when I eat. A work in progress! 😉 Would love to show you what I’ve been eating for the past few months down below!

Boyfriend’s homemade goulash
Schlotzsky’s Deli’s incredible sandwich
La Perla’s Blue Hawaiian
Pops Pops Honeydew boba tea
My own squash and sausage soup
My friend’s impressive opera cake
Tech conference food
WP Engine’s complimentary meal
Posted in Dance, flashback, Food/Recipes, Makeup, Quotes

Waiting for a Persimmon to Ripen

Good evening everyone! VJ’s prompt about ripening has me thinking about quite a few things today. With fall looming around the corner, I couldn’t help but think of persimmons with its bright orange color! It is a mighty fruit packed with some powerful benefits:

  • Aids in weight loss & its fiber promotes a healthy digestive system
  • Can help regulate sugar in blood for diabetics
  • Rich source of phytochemicals which helps in warding off inflammatory infections
  • Anti-hemorrhagic properties which helps control excessive bleeding
  • Helps with hypertension because of its low sodium levels
  • Source of vitamin C to strengthen immune system
  • Source of vitamin A, shibuol, betulinic acid to help fight cancer
  • Source of a complex vitamin B which helps improve eye health
  • Source of copper which helps iron absorption and produces red blood cells
  • Source of potassium which helps retain significant minerals
  • Natural energizer relieving stress and exhaustion
  • Has some anti-aging properties as seen in some soap and this beauty blogger review of Amalie Beauty Persimmon Anti-Aging Nightcreme

My thoughts begin to wander onto some quotes, however…

“Age is not all decay. It is the ripening, the swelling of the fresh life within that withers and bursts the husk.”

George McDonald

My father used to grow some persimmon trees in our backyard. They come in two varieties: astringent and non-astringent. When they’re not ripe, biting into one leaves a bitter taste that lingers in your mouth taking its time before it leaves your tongue. With a little more patience, you can taste a wonderfully sweet fruit which makes the wait worth it.

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Eden Phillpotts, author

A rather interesting analogy to segway into some new events in my life. I recently got hired to be a technical writer at a cybersecurity firm! Very excited by this new development and chapter of my journey. Yet, it took me a while to get to this point. Many times I felt rather impatient with my own growth, but in hindsight, it took some time for my knowledge and information gained from my studies to mature before it was finally ready to be put into action.

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgement requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.”

Calvin Coolidge, Former U.S. president

It’s been a few days since I’ve drank from this firehose of this major life transition – a constant outpouring of new ideas to take in, process, and from that immense gulp, I’m responsible for creating a grand tool that can unlock a whole new world of possibilities for my coworkers and myself.

“Nothing is finer for the purposes of great productions, than a very gradual ripening of the intellectual powers.”

John Keats

I should really slow down though as the quote above reminds me of the fine potential that can be derived from a gradual ripening. 😉 That said, I feel like a giddy metal worker dancing amidst the flying sparks as I’m in creation mode!

Posted in Awards, Crafts, Events, flashback, Food/Recipes, Music, Quotes

Sunshine Blogger Award #5 from Proscenium – Life, Relationships, Movies

The Sunshine Blogger Award is per recognition award for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy

Good afternoon everyone! I would like to sincerely thank Jason @ Proscenium for nominating me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. He hosts the fun Friday Follies photo challenge (hilarious entries from participants), takes interesting photos and gives a slice of his day while promoting other bloggers. Please stop by and take a look into his world!

Rules for Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts. (In my case, I tag!)
  • List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Jason’s Questions

Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up? If not, what did you always want to be “when you grew up?” Was there a reason why?

Short answer: yes and no. 🙂

Image Credit: Berzin @ Pixabay

When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a doctor “when I grew up”. I imagined taking care of a clinic full of sick stuffed animals who needed care. I just wanted them to be happy again so that we can drink tea together. I always felt called to help people feel better. I was sensitive to those who were suffering. In college, I attempted to do a pre-med track only to get burnt out in the process. I didn’t get much sleep in those years and didn’t eat properly either because of the stress of maintaining a decent GPA to get into medical school.

I was rattled and a train wreck three years into the program. I later explained to my parents that perhaps this isn’t the right path for me and decided to do some soul searching. I asked myself what were things that I enjoyed doing: listening to music, art, writing, crafty activities, gardening, tinkering with tech stuff. Changing my course wasn’t easy at first. In the course of my recuperation, I decided to participate in a “Trash-to-Treasure” environmental contest hosted by my school after reading a story about some inventive dresses made out of recycled products.

There was a deadline to the project so I decided to go with a simpler project. I was later inspired by a curtain made out of plastic bottle parts and enjoyed the process of connecting all the pieces together. Time just flew by and I had fun!

What is/was a relationship deal breaker for you?  Why? Is that the same for friendships?

As understanding and patient I can be, I’ve had quite a few deal breakers even in the midst some redeeming qualities they may have. Some deal breakers for me for relationships and friendships alike were individuals with abusive personalities, poor hygiene/uncleanliness, and laziness. It’s difficult for me to cut ties due to my desire to help people through problems, but there are times when it is necessary for my own well being.

  • Anyone who has been around abusive people knows that they create an incredibly toxic environment for you and they will drain you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sometimes, they can be logical and knowledgeable yet hurtful with their arrogance. Constantly taking a beating figuratively and literally eventually takes its toll. Taking care of myself means giving myself space from those sorts of individuals.
  • Poor hygiene has always irked me. It is very difficult to be in close proximity around someone who doesn’t bother to brush their teeth or take regular showers. I can take note of their compassion, but at a distance?
  • Laziness bugs me because if people won’t make the effort to work on a relationship, why be in one? It reveals to me that they don’t care, and if they don’t care, then I won’t feel adequately cared for. Laziness is different than resting or recreation. I’ve always been surrounded by hardworking people all my life and I’ve seen the fruits of that labor play out in various facets of their lives including their relationships.

What’s something you can’t go a day without doing?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Eating! Good food can instantly change my mood and worldview on life. I love the delectable colors of this vegetable skewer!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Image Credit: Pixabay

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?

There was a relationship I had which didn’t last, but it taught me a lot of important life lessons. The craziest thing I think I did for love was that I got down on my knees and cried in front of this individual. In hindsight, it doesn’t sound too crazy, but at the time I refused to be vulnerable because I didn’t want to show any weaknesses. I set up so many walls that guys used to think that I didn’t have feelings. They would never see me cry, and I never wanted someone to take advantage of my heart. The moment I tore down the walls I built for myself, I was open to what was going to happen, and that scared me.

Genius lyrics
“.. When you built your walls too high
And there’s no one to love you
When you trap yourself inside
…”

What scene in a movie has evoked the most feelings out of you?

There are certain scenes in movies that stand out in my memory. Life changers.

Typically, the ones that have evoked the most feelings are the ones I don’t think I’ll ever want to see again: war, WWII, Holocaust. Movies about featuring the depravity in the Holocaust like Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice, Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The final scene in Schindler’s List where Oscar talks about saving one more life, the scene where Sophie is asked to choose which of her children shall survive, the scene where the boys go to the gas chamber…

Though I have never watched Passion of the Christ, I assumed it was going to evoke many feelings. My family and I avoided it for the brutal violence and the newspaper report of a woman getting a heart attack while watching it in the theater.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some movie scenes that evoked incredibly positive emotions was the Amazonian training scene in Wonder Woman, the grandmother remembering her father in Coco, women achieving their dreams in Hidden Figures, Circle of Life in Lion King.

11 Nominees

You are not obligated to respond to this award nomination, however it is a wonderful way for me to recognize your blogs! Thank you for being here!

Questions

  1. What will be your next inspiring endeavor?
  2. What is your native language? Are there any other languages you would like to learn?
  3. Describe your favorite restaurant.
  4. What was the last compliment you received?
  5. What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?

Thank you again for reading! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

Posted in Culture, Dreams, flashback, Food/Recipes, Music, Quotes

#SoCs – Cozy Post-Party

Image Credit: Pixabay

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been out for two weeks. It has been a doozy and I’m tucked underneath a layer of bed sheets right now in my cozy room munching on golden jack fruit. Feeling tired might be an understatement. Stream of consciousness is all I can muster right now. 😉

Brother’s Graduation

My brother graduated from college with a degree in environmental engineering. Words cannot express how proud I am. On the day of, there was a tornado alert in the area, pouring rain was beating down on our car windshield, temporary hail pellets hit certain areas of town. There was no notice of postponement of the commencement event, so we slowly drove on the highway to our destination, an athletics stadium on campus.

Ride the storm. Cheer wildly. Gather strength from life’s storms.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie

When we arrive, we were checked by two metal detectors which made me wonder about all the precautions that have to be taken considering all the mass shootings in the nation. The thought of it made me feel a bit somber though safer, and these rows of security guards at the entrances made me feel a sense of awe.

We took our seats far up and back as the live brass band was playing in the background. I munched on some almonds as I listened to the commencement speeches. There were three wonderful speakers:

  • The first was a beautiful young lady who reminisced about who experiences during college and concluded with a message of kindness and gratitude.
  • The second was a young man who was determined to build an Iron Man suit and shared with the audience some of his life lessons of preparation.
  • The third and final speaker was an engineering professor who shared a powerful story of what happens when you fearlessly respond with “yes and if” to life’s great opportunities. We also got to see a fun clip of him playing in a blue grass band.

Engineers. Problem-solvers. They never cease to amaze me. I left that stadium feeling inspired. Tons of pictures with friends and family. Then onto the grad party next day. A feast takes a lot of work especially when you decide to do it at home instead of a restaurant. Time management works towards your advantage as event planning can be seen as an operation of sorts.

Preparing for an Extravaganza

Mom and I woke up early morning, 6 am and 7 am respectively, and began cooking, cleaning, prepping while everyone was running errands for supplies. We invited a variety of guests with a variety of dietary needs. We created a buffet with several dishes filling up our dining table throughout the morning and afternoon:

  • Banh hoi – rice vermicelli woven into intricate bundles with chopped scallions or garlic chives sauteed in oil typically served with a complementary meat dish and either soy sauce or a homemade fish sauce
  • Crab and Asparagus Soup – filled with other fresh ingredients of quail eggs, ginger, chicken
  • Glass Noodle Stir Fry – translucent noodles fried with chicken and tons of veggies
  • Xoi lac xua – Steamed peanut sticky rice with coconut milk
  • Fried chicken, grilled pork, jumbo shrimp, and beef
  • Fried rice- using a new technique mom learned from a friend
  • Fruit trays – watermelon, jackfruit, grapes
  • Che Thai fruit cocktail– sweet dessert filled with gelatin, chia seeds, longan fruit
  • Che Dau Van – Vietnamese Lentil bean dessert
  • Fresh spring rolls – vermicelli, pork, lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, carrots, crunchy egg roll with a peanut butter sauce

My brother and I tested the audio system he borrowed for karaoke by singing a few fun duets such as “Aladdin’s A Whole New World” and a variety of other Disney songs.

I arranged citronella candles to repel bugs on the tables and set up chairs and tables outside while dad mowed the yards. We strategically placed a variety of ice chests around the house: filled with beer, soda, water, fruit drinks. Wine bottles were ready to go. I arranged and cut fresh flowers to put in vases and cleaned up the house with a wide array of cleaning products. There was fresh towels and soap in the restrooms. I clean up the guest bedroom for the guests that want to take a nap. (which wasn’t going to include me!) 🙂

We all eventually took a shower to wash away our sweat, mud, flour, food coloring. I freshened up my face with makeup, styled my hair, and donned on a pretty red, black, and white floral dress that hugged my body. I suddenly became a hostess along with the rest of my family members as we welcomed our guests.

It’s Showtime!

It was my job to make sure everyone was well-fed serving as waitress and scanning the rooms to anticipate needs. Refilling drinks, inquiring about food allergies, offering napkins, utensils, picking up trash, etc. Though I’m fairly reserved, I can be quite a conversationalist. I walked around and outside the house chatting to everyone making sure no one felt left out. I learned more about their studies, work, interests, and hobbies. It seemed to be a networking activity as well as I gave out job referrals and we exchanged information and contact information.

My brother who graduated was the emcee for the night engaging the guests in songs, rap battles, stories and shared input and feedback as to post graduation goals. He shared the good news of his three job offers, and he was weighing

My other brother was in charge of games and entertainment for young adults. He set up video games, board games, card games and managed the crowd. Activities are time flexible as we gauged the crowd’s emotions. When you get a lot of laughs from the latest trending game for instance, it’s a green light to continue. Otherwise, it’s time to move on.

Dad managed the outdoor crowd for the older adults who are more interested in slower paced activities. They sat outside in the gazebo thoughtfully engaging with questions about life and philosophy. Mom managed the group of ladies who tried on some new fashionable clothing and perfume. They chatted about the new adventures they had about motherhood and exchanged tips and advice.

By the end of the day, presents were opened and shared as we ate a delicious, light, fluffy, fruit cake that we got from Mozart’s Bakery. Our guests thanked us for the night and gradually began to leave as I bid them farewell. My sister was in charge of cleaning up as we helped her pick up trash and store the china. We finally got some shut-eye around midnight.

Mozart’s Bakery

My Birthday

The day after my brother’s grad party was my birthday! This year was a small affair due to the fact I didn’t want to steal my brother’s thunder, and frankly, I was tired from the previous night. I asked my siblings if we can hang out in our living room in our pajamas, eat some leftover cake, and re-watch one of my favorite Korean dramas:

Image Credit: Jae-Ha Kim Journalistic Review

I am now 31 years old, and I’m feeling all sorts of things. My siblings and I reconnected on a deeper level which I personally felt was a dream come true. Our communication with one another improved after we spent time apart reflecting on a variety of things and life events. Reading things in the media affected how we treated each other in good and bad ways. My parents are adjusting to their “empty nest” as we are moving out of our childhood home one by one. We have wonderful stories and experiences in this house. They are getting ready to retire, as we are beginning our lives and careers.

Bus Ride Home

I treated myself to some lotions for my hard working hands and feet. I reinvested in myself by attending an inspirational career training and enrolling in a master’s program. I sat near the window of the bus pensively staring at the grasslands. I started to chat to the guy next to me when I saw an interesting t-shirt. I noticed he had only one arm. I was inspired as I listened to his thoughts and hobbies. Later at another stop, a blind man sits in front of us. I was impressed by his vision for what he wanted to accomplish in his life: owning his own business. He, too, had an inspiring story to share as I was captivated by his blue eyes. I was amazed by the company that I had during my trip. I hope to learn more from them soon!

As I reached town, I rested and joined my study group later in the evening. They treated me to a delicious wholesome birthday bowl from “The Good Kind: Modern Market and Cafe” as I designed a logo for our group and studied security issues.

Life continues, and isn’t this a lovely tropical bowl!? 😀

Posted in flashback, Food/Recipes

A-to-Z Challenge: Zest

“Orange Creamsicle Poke Cake is a wonderful addition to all your summer parties! A lovely vanilla cake that is bursting with orange flavor and topped with a fluffy orange and vanilla frosting that no one will be able to resist!”

Trish, Mom on Time Out
orange-creamsicle-cake-recipe
Image Credit: Mom On Time Out

I finally caught up! So I will end this year’s A-to-Z challenge with another yummy delight involving some orange zest: Orange Creamsicle Cake! Trish created and featured this recipe on her blog “Mom on Time Out“.

“Creamsicles have always been one of my favorite summer time treats. That combination of orange and vanilla is just so magical! Today I’ve recreated that magical combination in cake form. “

Trish
Image Credit: Pinterest

Yes, I know exactly what Trish means when she says this! I remembered when I first bit into an orange ice cream dream bar one hot summer day. It was a great taste combo. I haven’t made this cake yet, but I do enjoy baking with citrus. Oranges are one of my favorite fruits. I might try to bake it for next year’s blogger’s bake-off. It seems that I will collect recipes along the way!

Orange Creamsicle Cake Recipe

COURSE: Dessert
CUISINE: American
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 28 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 38 minutes
SERVINGS: 24

INGREDIENTS
Cake
– 15.25 oz boxed vanilla cake mix
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup Almond Breeze Vanilla almond milk
– 1 tbsp orange zest
– 3.4 oz orange JELLO
– 1.25 cup boiling water
– 1.3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Frosting
– 15 oz can of mandarin oranges (do not drain)
– 3.5 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
– 8 oz Cool Whip

INSTRUCTIONS
Vanilla Cake
– Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting vanilla almond milk for the water and adding the orange zest. (Your exact measurements may vary slightly depending on the brand of cake mix you use.)
– Bake using package directions. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for approximately 10 minutes.
– Use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake.
– Place orange JELLO mix in a heat proof bowl and slowly add boiling water. Whisk until the JELLO has completely dissolved.
– Stir in fresh orange juice.
– Carefully and slowly pour JELLO mixture over the top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Mandarin Orange Frosting
– Beat mandarins and pudding mix together until combined.
– Gently fold in the Cool Whip or whipped cream until incorporated.
– Spread on cooled cake.
– Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Posted in Culture, flashback, Food/Recipes, Photography, Technology

A-to-Z Challenge: Yummy

Mini computer next to a local-based energy drink
Allgen’s Computer Hardware Warehouse

A few weeks ago, I had a lovely dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant called Dallah Mediterranean Cuisine after hanging out at the computer hardware store. My boyfriend and his friend wanted to go after seeing this ending scene in a Shawarma restaurant from The Avengers. Yes, interesting reasoning for choosing a restaurant! 🙂

The Avengers – Complete Shawarma Post Credits

As for me, I appreciate a novel experience and I’ve read various articles about how Mediterranean food is very healthy. We walked over to Dallah’s down the street. The moment I walked inside the restaurant, I was taken to another world. I gazed at the beautiful unique decor.

Not sure if the company I was with was joking with me, but the dog on the shelf is a Greek god named Anubis. If I stare into its eyes, I would supposedly die. 😉 Anubis is affiliated with mummification and the afterlife. Anubis had various roles as a protector of tombs, an embalmer, a guide for souls.

The symmetry and pattern of these paisley designs kept my attention for a while. It reminds me of the flourishes I would see on old US dollar bills.

Not sure what this map was all about, but the story around the perimeter made me wonder what was going on. I thought it was like a profile of various explorers of a crew.

I have never seen a chandelier quite like this star-shaped one below.

Rested in the view from my seat – enjoying the twinkle of the sparkling lights above table.

I ordered a beef souvlaki wrap: a beef tenderloin kabob wrapped in a homemade tanour bread with garlic sauce, tomato, lettuce, pickles. The salad is light and refreshing. The souvlaki was delicious and filling.

I also ordered a set of 4 falafels which are golden brown spiced chickpea patties fried to perfection. Crispy on the outside and savory on the inside. The tzatziki sauce was a white cream that was light and creamy with a touch of lime. Dipping this warm bun into the cool cream was a delight!

I couldn’t forget the yummy dessert! I loved the baklava. I love the layers and the cream. Overall I had a wonderful day and will cherish this rich experience with friends. The waitstaff was responsive and understanding even when I accidentally spilled a glass of water on the table as I was trying to take a picture.

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