Halloween Fun in the Time of Covid

Stella, my owl pumpkin

Fated to be a darling delight
Sweet owl shares a wisdom so bright

that she is blissfully unaware of her insight
Colorful fiesta greeting throughout the night
Not at all bothered by her short height!

Thanks, Mr.A for this Halloween Blogtober tag! Halloween is over, but this serves as a pleasant distraction from the election.

(,,◕ ⋏ ◕,,) RULES (˼●̙̂ ̟ ̟̎ ̟ ̘●̂˻)

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you and link their post
  • Put the rules after an introduction, then answer the 13 questions
  • Tag 13 more bloggers to participate in the game
  • Use these same Halloween questions, or create new ones of your own

What’s your favorite thing about October or Halloween?
I love October Poetry Writing Month! I always learn new poetry styles and love experimenting with techniques. Didn’t get a chance to fit that in this year, but maybe some other time. I love pumpkin spiced lattes, decorations, costumes, and beautiful fall weather!

How much do you spend on Halloween?
Typically $20 USD for a pumpkin, treats, and materials to make a costume.

What do you think the average person spends on Halloween goodies & does it match what you spend?
In my neighborhood, they go all out spending anywhere from $500-$1000 for decorations, candy, party supplies, and costumes. So no, it doesn’t match what I spend at all! 😉 My neighbors love to organize as a group and create a spooky vibe for the trick-or-treaters. There’s always something new every year. Covid really changed things, but there were drive-thru options.

Does social media influence how much you decorate for Halloween, causing you to spend more?
Interesting question! There’s so much power in suggestion! I personally don’t spend more, but it does give me ideas to improvise.

Do you buy or create your Halloween costumes and what was your favorite costume so far?
Both, depending on the season! I loved dressing up as a ghostly Little Bo Peep and a Renaissance lady!

Share a trick you have played on someone at Halloween.
I’ve never played a trick on someone, but I had plenty play a trick on me. There was a time a boy gripped my ankle from a hole he dug in his parents front yard as I was passing by! Another time, a neighbor told me that I should head over to a particular house because the owners give big candy bars. I arrived at the residence only to be scared by a guy dressed up as Jason handling a chainsaw!

Do you have a favorite Halloween treat?
Butterfinger chocolate bar!

What is something you can do with a pumpkin once Halloween is over?
Stick it in the compost bin! Roast the seeds and season it with soy sauce! Grow another pumpkin from the seeds.

Do you consider pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?
Fruit because a pumpkin has seeds! Vegetable because it grows on a vine! Vruit-Fegetable! 😉

What is the scariest food you’ve ever eaten?
Balut, a fertilized duck egg delicacy. You can learn more about it here. When I was a kid, I didn’t give it too much thought, and it always tasted delicious! Nowadays, I just can’t do it anymore. I just can’t. It feels wrong.

Do you have a favorite Halloween drink?
So, there’s this drink that I have dubbed the “Eyeball drink” based on how it looks! In reality, those “eyes” are actually basil seeds. It’s an incredibly, yummy sweet drink with gelatin pieces.

People usually spend money on Halloween, but have you ever made money related to this holiday?
Well, there was a time when one of my neighbors ran out of candy, so he pulled out his wallet and gave us cash instead! And…another time where my cousin really enjoyed the party I hosted, and she slipped a $50 bill in my purse.

Have you ever read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or another frightening book?
I read Frankenstein as freshman student in college as part of the summer reading club. I also read a couple of vampire books to get me in the frightening mood. 🙂

I tag:

Happy belated Halloween!

Aspen Ideas Festival

No Idea Is So Outlandish That It Should Not Be Considered With A Searching But At The Same Time A Steady Eye

– Winston Churchill

Enjoyed this year’s invigorating Aspen Ideas Festival these past few days. Various leaders around the world engaged in a deep discussion of the ideas and issues across many disciplines that both shape our lives and challenge our times. It’s virtual and free to attend. Past videos from this weekend have been archived and ready for the public to view. For more information: https://www.aspenideas.org/attend/festival

Ethnicity Tag

Ahoy there! A month ago, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting a new follower, Stephanie @ Roses and Brimstone – A Little Heart with Extraordinary Passion! She wrote about her cultural background in a post called Ethnicity Tag which was fun and fascinating for me to read.

She was curious to learn where I came from and linked where she got her questions: 50+ Ethnicity Tag Questions. (Fortunately for you, I will not answer all 50 of them!) The site describes the distinction between race and ethnicity.

A few days ago, mom expressed to me how she was afraid of me “losing my heritage” (which I will describe another day). Since there are some new folks here, I thought this blog post would dive into a bit of that and perhaps share a little bit about me!

1.Which ethnicity do you belong to?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am ethnically American and Vietnamese, and classified as Asian. I was born in Texas in the United States. My parents and my grandparents are from Qui Nhon, Vietnam, a beautiful coastal city. My 23&Me DNA results shows that my ancestors are from China/Vietnam region. 🙂

2. Which food represents your ethnicity?

There is such a variety in Vietnamese cuisine. Rice dishes are a staple. Pho is a famous dish that many people in America have had a chance to try. I keep mentioning it in past posts. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do so!

3. Which ethnic language are you perfect in?

Vietnamese is a tonal language and are distinguished by three main dialects which can be classified by region: North (Hanoi), South (Ho Chi Minh City), Central (Hue). Around 80 million people in the world speak Vietnamese and is in the top 20 most spoken languages. It has many Chinese and French influences. It used to written in Chinese letters, but now uses the Latin alphabet.

I wouldn’t describe it as perfect, but I spent a good chunk of my life studying the dialect from South-Central Vietnam. I can read, write, and speak it. However, I would consider myself at a limited proficiency level in Vietnamese. I am most fluent in English and enjoy the nuances of the language. I enjoyed studying English literature in college.

4. Do you have any ethnic name?

I go by many names: Sally, Lisa, but my ethnic name is Sa! Vietnamese parents typically like to name their daughters after lovely flowers or beautiful sentiments. It directly translates to silky gossamer. Combined with other other words, it can mean a host of things. (ie- kieu sa = lovely)

5. Which phrase of your ethnic language is your favorite?

  • Bạn khỏe không (Ban Kwe Khom) = How are you?
  • Cảm ơn (kahm uhn) = Thank you!

    The following proverb is something I enjoy:
  • Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn. = A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning.

6. Which clothes represent your ethnicity?

On special occasions such as Vietnamese holidays and weddings, I wear the traditional, gorgeous ao dai. I love the new modern styles that are coming out! If you want to view the glitz and glamorous side of Vietnamese fashion that’s trending, you can watch a renowned variety show called: Paris by Night.

Marriage gown

7. Which drink represents your ethnicity?

A few distinctive favorite drinks that I grew up with are: jasmine/green tea, coconut juice, soybean milk, grass jelly drink, sugar cane drink.

8. Which specific jewelry represents your culture?

Popular pieces are typically made of jade or gold. Images of dragons, Buddhas, crosses are common. Some of my favorite cultural pieces include: earrings, beaded peace bracelets, necklaces.

My favorite American pieces are Pandora charm bracelets or floating charm locket necklaces.

9. Which sport represents your ethnicity?

Vovinam, Dragon dance, dragon boat racing, cow racing, wrestling

Vietnamese Vovinam – martial arts
Dragon boat racing

10. Which ethnic song do I often listen to?

I’m a sucker for Korean dramas. They’re humorous, heart-breaking, or soul lifting. I just finished this Chinese drama remake called Meteor Garden. Though I have some qualms about the series, I enjoyed it. This beautiful song is not Vietnamese, but lately I’ve been listening to the entire soundtrack on replay.

A-to-Z Challenge: Hibiscus


#Quadrille – Not So Easy, Ace

Ace,
Elusive conundrum
Encumbered by your gold standard
When did three little lines
that form the letter “A”
dominate our lives?
Iconoclasts have grown
within your regime
Our pursuit towards the
milieu of achievement
has developed our acumen
Sine qua non
in certain realms

Alright, my poem may be a tad dramatic! 😉 Today, I was collaborating with my study group at a beautiful venue downtown called The Pearl. The city recently finished building a water park which lights up at night for the kids to play in. I’ve been thinking about joining the yoga group that meets out here on the AstroTurf at night.

Photo Credit: Lorraine Elliot
Please check out her site for more information about the Pearl Brewery!
She has high quality photos that will show all the various shops and fantastic cuisine there 🙂

One of my study buddies treated me to a gourmet “Raspberry Hibiscus Donut” from a place called Maybelle’s Donuts after I excitedly pointed out that I’ve never seen a donut like this one before! According to readers of the city’s magazine, Maybelle’s has been honored with the “Best Donut award” in the “Best of the City” category.

This artisan donut just seemed unique to me because I enjoy taking pictures of hibiscus flowers and drinking hibiscus tea. I even had a strange dream where a hibiscus flower was chatting to me insisting that I call her Hibi for short. 🙂 However, I never heard of it being an ingredient in desserts. It was certainly delicious and tart!

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge 
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

In response to:

Eclectic Days of My Life: Part 1

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been present for the past few weeks. February was just one of those busy months where I wondered exactly how I got involved with so much. “Eclectic Days of My Life” is a chronicle of my recent tales which I broke into two parts! I tend to have phases in my life where I unplug from a few technological devices, live life to the fullest, and then write about my tales afterwards. Here’s a “table of contents” for my recent adventures! 😀

Part 1
1. Lunar New Year (2/1-2/6)
2. “Made For More” Retreat (2/7)
3. Infinity Expo (2/9)
4. Hosting a Sushi Making Party (2/10)

Part 2
5. Cybersecurity Job Fair (2/13)
6. Valentine’s Day (2/14)
7. PopCon2019 (2/16)
8. Friend’s Anniversary Party (2/16)

  1. Lunar New Year
Bus going through Austin, TX

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen my family. I was really excited to see them again and spend quality time. On the bus ride, I decided to write in my journal for five hours straight. I wanted to see what the stream of consciousness would produce and where my mind and imagination would take me as I stared out at the fields of grass rows of skyscrapers. I explored my past, politics, my philosophical coursework, animal rights, personality types, international affairs, gift giving. 😊 Daydreaming at my best I suppose. I like that travelling in buses give me the chance to do that.

It was a warm family welcome. Mom had made a delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue (vermicelli soup with fried tofu and beef) for dinner and I cracked opened a coconut and enjoyed the cool refreshing juice. After dinner we began making banh chung together as a family. I fold the banana leaves to create a box of sorts and put in in a wooden mold to create a square structure. I begin putting the colored rice, mung bean or peanuts, and marinated pork. I wrap it up in foil and pat it down to fill the mold. We got the steamer ready and waited for the water to boil.

As we waited, my brother introduced us to fun card game called The Mind that was developed by a German game maker, Wolfgang Warsch. Guessing what cards my siblings may have by reading body language prove quite difficult. We made it to level six out of twelve! We called it a night after three rounds. I wore this knitted puppet who brought some laughs in this intense game.

The next evening we went out to Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie, TX. Celebrations and entertainment occur here for six days. Parking was packed. It took my brother and I 30 minutes to find parking at night, so it’s best to come early! The size of the crowd was dense. In the morning, there’s usually dances and shows of firecrackers.

https://visitdfw.com/asia-times-square-new-year/

Like Christmas, there’s plenty of light displays outside the plaza. Food vendors have set up stands or parked their trucks outside. It’s a good time for their businesses! There’s was a long line where the average wait time is 30 minutes.The funnel cake and kabobs were delicious.

Indoors, there were lion/dragon dances parading in the lobbies to the beat of the drummers banging away on drums half their size. People tip the teenagers who wear the dragon costumes who do tricks. Singers captivate the audience.

We walked inside the plaza exploring. I checked out various things that were out on display: dresses, K-pop posters, toys, flowers, food. Various institutions set up tables as well to advertise themselves: police/fire department, various non-profit groups, politicians.

After a few hours, we drove over to another plaza called Ben Thanh a few minutes down the street. Stores are decorated with several flowers. The singers sing traditional music that appeals to many of the masses with their lyrics. Cashiers at the grocery store give you raffle tickets towards a drawing for a brand new car each day you shop there. You can also buy each ticket for one dollar. Mom collected 8 tickets for me to place inside a large plastic container on stage. A woman told the audience that roughly 42,000 tickets were sold.

Two emcees periodically pulled tickets out of the container to award gift certificates to restaurants throughout the night. While listening to the beautiful music, I chatted to a man next to me while waiting for the results. He talked about how he felt when Vietnam was taken over by the Communist regime. A few tears sprung from his eyes when his son expressed interest in visiting Vietnam to learn more about his heritage. He said that he would never go back, but out of his love for his son, he decided to buy plane tickets for both of them. I learned about his experiences of raising children in America, his academic accomplishments in engineering, his views on music and culture. When the emcee finally called out the winner of the car, my heart almost stopped when he called out Sa Lee. It was another woman’s number. Now I know how the people in Willa Wonka felt with the golden tickets! 🙂 The older gentlemen wished me good luck in my endeavors as we bid each other good night.

The next morning, my family got ready to attend mass service at the church. My mother and I ironed our ao dai dresses as we got ready. After we arrived, there was a full house in the church as we listened to the priest talk about loving others. The main hall was beautifully decorated with flowers, red envelopes, blossoming branches.

After the service, we headed to the auditorium where we ate our meals as we listened to the entertainment and kids played at the carnival games. I reconnected with former Sunday school teachers and friends who I haven’t seen in years.

Monday morning, one of my brothers took me to a Korean plaza that has developed in Carrollton after I finished weeding the garden. It was such a beautiful day outside. There was a wonderful bakery called “85 degrees Celsius”. Everything smelled wonderful. I got an egg tart and a cheesecake pastry though I was tempted to get some pretty slices of cake. I know that my eyes can get bigger than my stomach, so I refrained.

We walked over to the bookstore next door. I loved the book collection, stationery, cards, pins, toys, pens. I spent some time admiring the book covers which immediately caught my attention. We chatted about his accomplishments at the library that he works at. I felt proud of the fact that he turned the library into a cool hangout spot for the teenagers he mentors. The city awarded him for his service.

My brother and I parted ways as he left me to explore the Japanese dollar shop. He was going to meet up with a friend. I did take some time exploring my surroundings and the objects that were on sale. It looked pristine and organized. Later that evening, I got a haircut at my aunt’s salon and reconnected with her. I loved my new hair style!

Next morning, mom woke me up to begin making another treat: banh bao (steamed buns). I began kneading the flour for half an hour reflecting on the past few days. Mom was sauteing the seasoned meat and boiling the eggs. When we were done prepping everything, I took a rolling pin, dusted it with flour, and flattened a piece of dough so that we could put the meat and eggs in there. We sealed the bun up with a twist so that it could look like a flower bud and place it on some wax paper so that it won’t stick to the metal steamer. I always learn so much from my mom as I’m cooking and baking alongside from her. She has such a knack for it, I once suggested the idea of opening a restaurant, but she didn’t want to deal with the level of stress with that pursuit.

Later that afternoon, after we were done steaming the buns. We decided to make some food deliveries to friends. First stop was my sister. When she moved out to her own place, she has new guests try out her yoga wheel which has significantly helped her back problems from a car accident. I got to see her artwork and doodles and felt proud of her recent accomplishments.

Later that evening, my other brother gave me a tour of the new library they built in my hometown after the city closed down the old branches. The books gave me a sense of comfort as I entered unfamiliar settings. I began browsing the shelves and examined the new amenities like a 3-D printer.

When we arrived back home, the President’s 2nd State of the Union Address was on TV. My family was worn out from the days activities, and called it a night. I tuned in and decided to listened. I felt like he was exaggerating the issues and the statistics that he uses are taken out of context that could affect the audience’s understanding of the big picture.

When I see women shaking their heads in the audience about health issues, I thought about articles I read in Ms.Magazine which offered perspectives as to why they might be feeling dismayed. In my regards to immigration, I thought about when he talked about how it is cruel to be tolerant of illegal immigration. I thought about his comments about the economy, foreign policy, laws on incarceration, antisemitism, nuclear energy.

2. Made for More

Where do we come from and where are we going? These questions are DECISIVE for understanding what it means to be human and how to orient our lives and our actions toward authentic fulfillment. Join Christopher West and Mike Mangione as they creatively weave together dynamic presentations with live music, movie clips, popular YouTube videos, and sacred art for an evening of beauty and reflection on the meaning of life, love, and human destiny. You will come away with a faith-filled vision of hope that will instill in you the sheer wonder and joy of being alive…

The Cor Project

My boyfriend’s mother invited me to retreat called “Made for More: Visions of the Promised Land” held in Corpus Christi, TX. Christopher West presents the dense material of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” in a language that appeals to the average person. Matt Mangione is a musician and song writer who weaves theological truths into poetic narrative. It interested me because I wanted to develop a more positive vision for my future in spite of the news that I watch and read often.

It was a two hour car drive to Corpus Christi. My boyfriend uploads a podcast from Conlangery about “converbs“. I was fascinated by the talk about the construction of clauses. Afterward, I uploaded a podcast called “Cisco Systems & Urban Decay: Sandy Lerner from Castbox. Interviewer Guy Raz asked some intriguing questions, and we were both hooked by the fascinating story behind the origins of routing technology company and the makeup company. It’s inspiring for me to hear the story about a female programmer navigating the tech industry.

Statue of Mary peacefully looking over the courtyard

Before we knew it, we arrived at the church where it was already packed. We sat in the far back row where there was room for exactly two people. I listened to Christopher as he mentioned the concept of your worth in Toy Story as the toys are being tossed into the trash. He showed a video clip from Les Miserables. The point of redemption where Father Carl forgives Jean Valjean for stealing the chalices from the building. My boyfriend is covering my ears for all the spoilers the speaker mentioned. I haven’t watched it, but someday I will since it’s a classic. There was another scene he shared from the TV show Cheers, where a girl is asking her father for his blessing as she wants to get married. She wants her father to truly “see” her as she really is.

Pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows by William Morris in St Michael and All Angels Church

He mentioned some things about the architecture of church buildings and how it’s arranged to focus on Jesus Christ. I thought of the mathematics in involved in making stained glass windows as I am captivated by the designs. He talked about the symbolism behind the feminine mystique of the flowers in the church which left me in a dazed state. I just thought of flowers as beautiful decorations to help bring peace to the members with its beauty, nothing more. He segwayed into a discussion about gender roles. The bride of the church. Specific characteristics of why only men are priests and women are nuns. I think about the differences between sex and gender, and choices

3. Infinity Expo

I found this event while scrolling through Eventbrite. Various topics in the description caught my attention.

Spend a day at The Infinity Expo where a venue will be transformed into a bustling town of fashion, rhythm, glamour, art, culture and a marketplace featuring some of the latest and exciting brands from vendors across the country. Presented at The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tx, a lavish and beautiful haven will emerge taking inspiration from a bygone era and into the 21st century.

Fashion Gallery
Experience a unique fashion presentation where mannequins and display windows come to life.

The Skin Deep Beauty Forum
It’s been said that beauty is only skin deep. Is it? Venture into the depth of beauty with the Skin Deep Beauty Forum where fashion, beauty and wellness experts explore the definition of beauty, self-care, body image, wellness and how it applies to our everyday lives. With an overarching message centered on the importance in maintaining a healthy relationship with your own beauty, The Skin Deep Beauty Forum is designed to inspire, uplift and encourage you to discover and rediscover your own beauty.

The Fashion Opera

The entrance to the convention center is quite stunning with its bold architecture. I enjoy the glass structures in the lobby that are like interlocking mini pyramids.

I enjoyed slowly reading the messages made with an assortment of metal signs.

I believe I came too early because I saw the models were still applying makeup behind the stage, so I walked around the booths and chatted to the vendors. I mainly chatted to a woman who is an HR professional who was promoting her book, “Do You Want the Job or Not?” She shared some tips on pursuing a new career.

4. Sushi Party

Last year, a friend became my study buddy and helped me get through the challenges of one of our IT classes dealing with advanced database design. Forever grateful for her help, I decided to host a sushi party to teach her and her family how to make their own sushi. I was pretty excited as I sifted through a huge box filled with supplies in her kitchen.

I set up bamboo mats on the dining table and asked her family members to help me prepare the food to go inside the sushi. Many hands make the work light. The rice was warming on the stove, cucumbers and avocados were being finely chopped, cream cheese were cut into cylindrical blocks, crab meat was being pulled apart. It was so much fun seeing them have fun roll their own sushi rolls for the first time. The kids enjoyed it. The mothers put it on the Facebook storyline which went viral. Now, it looks like I’m booked for another sushi party gig next month for a youth group!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 21

The song, “Stacie’s Mom”, was very popular during the time I was in high school. It’s about a young boy’s infatuation with his girlfriend’s mother which obviously isn’t going anywhere. I first heard of the song on a Dr.Pepper commercial. A few of my friends would create parodies of the song when someone’s mom does something awesome like “Colin’s Mom”.

Here is the funny Dr.Pepper commercial with the incredible soccer mom and her mini-van! 🙂

Calculus took up a chunk of my high school life! It’s where most of us learned the various types of infinity and its uses in limits and continuity. The Mathematics Stack Exchange explores more about infinity in its forums. When most of us were struggling with the process of learning calculus, our mothers intervened and offered support. Some of the moms got together and baked cookies for our weekend group studies so that we would pass our tests. 😀

The original video is meant for mature audiences. 😉

In response to: