Posted in Culture, poetry, Quotes

#Haiku-Feline Above | A-Z 2020 – Theme Reveal!

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Eugene O’Neil
Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

Uneasy kitten
Chatoyant green gems staring
Mystified by feats

Hey there, Kitty! Not to worry! You will get to live another day!

It’s that time of year again! A to Z April Blogging Challenge is a fun challenge where bloggers participate in topics of their choosing corresponding to letters in the alphabet.

And my theme for 2020?

I discovered a lot of topics that I’ve never heard of before and wanted to share them in story and poetry form! Random categories include:

Architecture | Animals | Manifestos | Festivals | Music | Gifts

My curious mind will transport us in a variety of places. I’ll be a fun travel buddy. Look forward to you joining my journey!

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay
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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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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Posted in Nature

A-to-Z Challenge: Xeriscape

I first learned about xeriscaping from a customer who was xeriscaping his garden area. At first, I thought it was a type of Japanese Zen garden technique. Later, I think I misunderstood because I thought he was watering the rocks. Silly me, there’s no need for that unless it’s a xesturgy process where the stones are gradually being polished from an incoming stream of water. Here is the dictionary definition:

“It means using plants that require less water to survive and using objects such as bricks, rocks, benches, gravel and deck areas instead of water-siphoning grass. “

SAWS
Photo Credit: SAWS

7 Steps to Xeriscaping

  1. Plan and Design
  2. Use turf appropriately
  3. Irrigate effectively
  4. Condition soil
  5. Mulch
  6. Plant Selection
  7. Maintain Landscape

Pinterest Inspirations

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Posted in Books, Culture, fiction, flashback, Quotes, Volunteer Experiences

A-to-Z Challenge: Volunteer

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”

Frank Serafini

Fueling the Desire to Rise Up to the Challenge

This past school year I have been volunteering with a local youth literacy group helping improve the reading levels of two second graders. It all started when I was listening to a young girl I encountered while helping sell books and other types of media at a local flea market with my friends. She told me she hated reading and as a teacher’s pet, she only reads during school.

I have to admit that her statement stung a bit. The love of reading has been instilled in me ever since I was a young girl. The library is my second home and it was where I felt the mental freedom to explore. Even if it wasn’t hers, there are so many stories out there that I think she would enjoy!

At my school, there was a research symposium at my school where I read the poster about literacy research. According to its community profile, San Antonio has the 2nd highest illiteracy rate in Texas. According to the US Census 2005, even though it ranks 7th among US cities in population, it is 60th in literacy. (Source: City of San Antonio Planning and Development Services Department. Statistics and Map Book. Rev. February, 2010. )

After catching up with a former colleague who is now the youngest state representative in our state legislature and listening to his teaching experiences, I felt inspired and decided to sign up to be a volunteer to understand the common problems that these kids were facing.

Reading Buddy Experience

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” 

Vera Nazarian

I was pretty excited to learn more about the two students I was assigned to. I enjoyed learning about the boys’ families and friends, what they love, and what they want to be when they grow up. It was difficult at first because they didn’t like the books that the program had selected. So I invited the boys to browse the shelves for a book they would like. They introduced me to the world of Mo Willems. Apparently, they already treasured the adventures in any book written by Mo Willems.

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”

Francois Mauriac
The adventures of Piggie, Gerald and friends

I showed them an atlas, and they seemed really excited to learn that there was a world outside their bubble. They enjoyed following along the words of my origami book. I read them stories from RL Stine and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I really enjoyed this experience, and come to deeply care about these kids.

“Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality.” 

L.R. Knost

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A-to-Z Challenge: Weird

It started out as a scrapbook and just kind of mutated…I call it the Wall of Weird. It’s every strange, bizarre, and unexplained event that’s happened in Smallville since the meteor shower. That’s when it all began — when the town went schizo. So what do you think?

Chloe, Season 1 Pilot
Chloe Sullivan in front of her wall

I remembered when I first watched Smallville and was intrigued by Chloe’s wall. I wonder about my own attraction towards weird things: interesting things that are out of the ordinary. Ten years ago, I lived in Austin, TX where its city motto is “Keep Austin Weird”. It is a vibrant town bustling with activity. I visited many art museums, local shops, and attended a variety of events around town. I encountered many strange things and had lunch with people who shared with me their enlightening world views and opinions.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” 

Robert Fulghum, True Love
Cathedral of Junk
Photo Credit: Nomadic Matt

“Weirdism is definitely the cornerstone of many an artist’s career.”

E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

My latest weird discoveries were found in a shop called Earthbound! I think this particular T-shirt design is strange, bright, and colorful. It just reminded me of the aliens that I might encounter on an episode of Futurama. The caterpillar below is either playing an instrument or smoking a hookah

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A-to-Z Challenge: Undauntable

My alma mater has a well-loved saying: BE AUDACIOUS!

My journey towards becoming undauntable has started with something small. Though it’s a minor change in my lifestyle, it’s something that will definitely test my will power and determination…

COLD SHOWERS!

Imagining what it’d be like to find a sense of respite sitting underneath the waterfall

So you may ask me why in the world would I do that to myself? I want to try an experiment for a few months and see what happens. I was curious after reading a few articles and watching some first hand accounts. I’ve learned about a few benefits to cold showers:

  • Stimulates weight loss
  • Improves immunity
  • Relieves depression
  • Improve skin and shine to lacklustre hair
  • Increase alertness and energy levels
  • Lower stress
  • Better sleep
  • Strengthened exhausted nerves
  • Increase in testosterone
  • Boost recovery after exercise

Has anyone or anyone you’ve known tried this already? What were the results?

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A-to-Z Challenge: Tarantella

Image Credit: A Broadway World
Actress playing Nora in “A Doll’s House”

Tarantella in Literature

“Like the macaroons, the tarantella symbolizes a side of Nora that she cannot normally show. It is a fiery, passionate dance that allows Nora to drop the façade of the perfect mild-mannered Victorian wife.”

Litcharts.com quote from Henrik Ibsen’s book, “A Doll’s House”

A few years ago, I read Henrik Ibsen’s book, “A Doll’s House” for a literature class. One of the characters is named Nora who is a bubbly child-like wife strictly dependent on her husband…at least in the beginning. She begins to develop a passion for individuality which fully emerges at the end. She shows a deep yearning for independence when Nora tells her friend to earn her own money by copying. Times have changed so much since the time of Nora’s quote!

“It was tremendous fun sitting, working, and earning money. It was almost like being a man.”

Nora , A Doll’s House

Tarantella in Music

The Tarantella is one of my favorite piano pieces! Its lively cheerful beats are quite popular in various movies. Its light-hearted, upbeat staccato notes are a joy to play. Loads of fun and a form of music that usually makes me feel in a hurry.

Italian Origins

Image Credit: Pixabay

During the 11th century in an Italian province called Taranto, Apulia, the Tarantula’s, a locally common wolf spider, bite was popularly believed to be venomous and lead to a hysterical condition called tarantism. At the time, the people believed that they needed to engage in frenzied dancing as a sort of therapy to prevent death from tarantism which was later coined Tarantella. It is commonly played with a mandolin, guitar, accordian, and tambourines, and sometimes flutes, fiddles, and clarinets are used as well. It’s speculated to be a fusion of the dance forms, Spanish fandango and the Moresque ‘ballo di sfessartia’.

Feiernde Neapolitaner. Öl auf Leinwand, 108 × 210 cm

Tarantella Napoletana Dance

Tarantella Ballet
Image Credit: Dance History Development WordPress

The tarantella is a graceful dance in which the dancer and the drum player constantly try to upstage each other by playing faster or dancing longer than the other, subsequently tiring one person out first.

The Godfather’s C’è la luna mezzo mare wedding

Cinderella’s Bippity Boppity Boo


Harry Potter’s Tarantellegra Dancing Feet Spell

Image Credit: Harry Potter Fandom

The “Dancing Feet” spell has its origins in ancient Italy, but is best remembered for its improper usage by Warlock Zaccaria Innocenti who is credited with conjuring a ‘dance’ within Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

History of this spell, Cast-a-Spell handbook

Draco Malfoy used this spell on Harry in the Dueling Club. Students used it on a pineapple to make it dance.

Image Credit: Harry Potter Fandom

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A-to-Z Challenge: Synergy

Synergy between thoughts and feelings reads the universe like an opened book.

― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut
Image Credit: Pixabay

Flashbacks

One day, I was going shopping with my mom and we headed out to the Mexican store to get groceries for the week. When we arrived, I was surprised to see that the store merged together with the local Korean market that was once down the street. It was fascinating seeing the two formally separate business working together side by side to share resources and learn from each other.

Last year, I attended this professional workshop at school related to the Stephen Covey’s book “7 habits of Highly Effective People”. I had a small goal of envisioning more smoother team project dynamics. Yeah…still a work in progress! 😉 As I was studying along with the instructor, I came across this cool term for the first time: synergy.

Etymology Origins

Image Credit: Pixabay

Curious about the sound of the word, I looked its roots in the dictionary and this is what popped up!

1650s, “cooperation,” from Modern Latin synergia, from Greek synergia “joint work, a working together, cooperation; assistance, help,” from synergos “working together,” related to synergein “work together, help another in work,” from syn- “together” (see syn-) + ergon “work” (from PIE root *werg- “to do”). Meaning “combined activities of a group” is from 1847; sense of “advanced effectiveness as a result of cooperation” is from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary

What is it?

Bruce Mayhew describes the definition in his post “7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 6: Synergize“:

Synergy is what happens when two or more forces choose to work together with open, trusting intention to embrace each others differences and to overcome the challenges that will inevitably arise.  The benefit of synergy is that the end result will be something that is far superior to anything that could exist without the cooperation and sharing of the forces.

Bruce Mayhew

He goes on to discuss the general requirements for the highest level of communication to help form new ideas. Synergy is a concept that would definitely affect business negotiations and partnerships developments!

  • Have one common vision – one common goal
  • Be different
  • Have a sense of self
  • Stay open to differences and new ideas – stay authentic
  • Embrace trust
  • Accept the better way will likely not be their way…100%
  • Offer respect to everyone – everything
  • Be able to apologize and forgive
  • Practice mindful listening (listen with empathy)
  • Maintain an open desire to understand
  • Control negative judgment
  • Stay with Win / Win (not Negative synergy Win/Lose or Lose)

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A-to-Z Challenge: Rejuvenate

Good morning everyone! While enjoying my daily routine of drinking tea this morning, I read a Life Hack article called “40 Self Care Techniques To Rejuvenate And Restore Yourself“. One important life lesson I have learned is the importance of rejuvenation.

There are times when many of us experience burnout. I enjoy engaging my sense of smell with various essential oils such as eucalyptus or the scent of a mandarin cranberry candle to help me unwind. Other bloggers have explored the various impact that fragrances can have on your life:

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 Ingredients for My Personal Rejuv Concoction

  1. Blog: I take great enjoyment in being able to express my thoughts, ideas, and photos of what I see on my blog and interact with other bloggers. Love getting inspired by all of you!
  2. Garden: It’s rewarding to grow plants and watch them grow when you care for them
  3. Hike: Being surrounded by nature refreshes me after having my eyes glued to the computer for long stretches of time.
  4. Jog/yoga: I feel more alive and energetic when I engage my body
  5. Journal: Here is where I journey into my heart and soul no matter where I’m at by putting my pen to work. I sketch and make crafts to put in my journal as well.
  6. Read: I enjoy visiting other worlds and exploring realms of various ideas when I read. I can improve my well being, learn how to manage areas of my life better, gain different perspectives
  7. Play the Piano: Music always gets in tune with what I’m feeling
  8. Vacation: Travelling has broadened my horizons and helped me meet a variety of people from various backgrounds.
  9. A new hairdo: Absolutely love to explore a new hair style!
  10. Spend time with family, friends, boyfriend: I enjoy exploring new things like trying out a new recipe with my loved ones, listening to their thoughts, relishing their reactions.

Cheers to the experiences, people, things that help rejuvenate us!

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