Posted in Awards, flashback, Music, Nature, Quotes

Sunshine Blogger Award #6 from Wondering Belle

Good morning! These past few days, I’ve been enjoying a moment of respite as I indulged in my hobby of sewing. I’ve been walking been on nature walks with friends, and I can’t help but feel inspired by mother nature. I like to thank Wondering Belle who has graciously nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I really enjoy these as I get to know my questioner better by the questions he/she asks and introduce a new person to my readers! She enjoys having fun exploring the wonders of the world through her lovely writing! Here are the rules:

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.

Belle’s Questions:

What makes you the happiest about your blog?
I love taking photographs of my walks in nature, writing stories and poems, and documenting my adventures and explorations alongside quotations and prompts by others. I have so much fun doing these questions too!

What is your all time top goal?
It’s rather funny – this was the same question that was on my recent scholarship essay which I titled “Metamorphosis” inspired by a quote from Metamorphoses by Ovid, a Roman poet:

“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, forever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.”

I later found this photo shared by Helene Vaillant and felt like I could relate to the profound changes a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.

I concluded my essay with some goals I wanted to achieve with my degree:

“By embarking on a Master of Science in technology and innovation management at NCU, this endeavor will help me reach my goals of helping my community develop a stronger cybersecurity defense line by creating a unique and new product or service that maximizes the best use of resources, time, and money. The specialization in project management will enable me keep up with the trends, implement breakthrough research and development which can serve as a catalyst for social change. “

I know my goals will evolve as I continue to live my life. On this blog, it seems that I talk the least about it. My blog serves a different purpose outside of my career path. I think my top goal here is to inspire bloggers to enjoy the writing process.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
I want to take a few weeks to go check out the vast collections at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC someday!

Aviation Hangar
Photo Credit: Dream Vacations

Where would you suggest someone go visit?
A place that my family and I have visited that I would suggest someone go visit is the Grand Canyon. Encountering its sheer magnitude from the North Rim for the first time made my jaw drop! It’s absolutely breathtaking!

Photo Credit: KeYang @ Pixabay

What do you think would make a difference to this world?

I think Gandhi was onto something when he said this. I think of our inner lives affect our actions in the world around us and nurturing the garden within us can bear fruit.

What is a hobby you wish you had more time to enjoy?
500 piece Thomas Kinkade Disney Dream collection puzzles. It’s a super magical collection and I can only manage 15 minutes a week or less. It’s a relaxing hobby for me and reading about its benefits such as “accelerated ingenuity, thought process support, dopamine production, meditation” on dumblittleman is intriguing. Yes…I should play more! 🙂

Image Credit: Barnes & Noble

What is your favorite song right now?

Earlier this month, I came across decision that made me somewhat upset, and I imagined what would it be like to be separated from those I cared about for even a short time. Although I decided to stay close to loved ones, Freya’s beautiful voice captured a piece of what I was feeling.

Standing on the platform
Watching you go
It’s like no other pain
I’ve ever known
To love someone so much
To have no control
You said I want to see the world
And I said go
I think I’m lost without you
I just feel crushed without you
I’ve been strong for so long
That I never thought how much I needed you
I think I’m lost without you
Read more: Freya Ridings – Lost Without You Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Emeli Sande’s lyrics is also currently resonating with my spirit.

You’ve got the words to change a nation
But you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
Afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it
How we gonna learn your song?
So come, come on
Come on, come on
You’ve got a heart as loud as lions
So why let your voice be tamed?
Baby we’re a little different
There’s no need to be ashamed
You’ve got the light to fight the shadows
So stop hiding it away
Come on, Come on
Read more: Emeli Sandé – Read All About It, Pt. III Lyrics | MetroLyrics

What would you like others to know about you?

I have two dream catchers dangling above my bed. I love my dreams, always makes me ponder about life throughout my day.

Image credit: Pixabay

Have you ever written a book? What is the name of that book if so?
No, not yet, but what I hear from many authors is that writing a book an exhilarating, nerve wracking, time consuming, and rewarding experience! Ideally, I think I would want to stay in a small cabin by myself in the mountains somewhere with few distractions. I’m not sure what the solitude would do to me though. Perhaps, it would be a profound experience!

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.”

― Mark Obmascik
Image Credit: Switzerland @ Pixabay

What is one thing that would make you happy right now?

A fruity ice cream bar! The impending summer weather is making me say that!

Image Credit: OyeHaha @ Pixabay

List 5 things you love.

Animals, Sunshine, Exploration, Writing, Loved ones, Art

Image Credit: Julius Silver @ Pixabay

11 Questions

  1. What are your plans for the the summer?
  2. What is one of your favorite posts that you’ve written on your blog?
  3. What place in the world would you want to visit?
  4. Which book had an impact on your life?
  5. If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
  6. What is your favorite memory from your childhood?
  7. What is your creative style? If you’re curious, here’s a quiz!
  8. What have you done to pursue your dreams lately? How about today?
  9. When you think of your home, what immediately comes to mind?
  10. Describe the greatest adventure of your life
  11. When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

11 Nominees

There’s no obligation to answer this award, but I wanted to recognize your beautiful blogs today and thank you for bringing some sunshine into my life. 🙂 ❤

  1. Michelle @ Mws. R Writings
  2. Subbashini Meenakshi Sundaram @ Exploring the World Around Us
  3. Ester @ Travelling Around the World
  4. Michael Ogazie
  5. Ilona @ easydiet.blog
  6. Ailish Sinclair @ Stories and Photos from Scotland
  7. Imelda @ My Wall
  8. SkyNRainbow
  9. Megan @ ESL Ventures
  10. Rachel Alexandra @ Roots and Rosemary
  11. OUKASnation
  12. RadGamer @ Rad the Poet
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 Books, Culture, Dance, Music, Quotes

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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Posted in Culture, flashback, Music

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 29

Today’s challenge is a song that reminds you of your childhood. I think of a lot of kid films, musicals, and sing-a-longs. 🙂

The music from the “Sound of Music” was a staple in my childhood. Edelweiss, sang by Christopher Plummer, is very touching. I played this on the piano often.

I sang a lot of Vietnamese karaoke songs for kids. My dad bought us a set of discs with karaoke tracks for us to sing along. It was my favorite stuff to sing on the weekends with my siblings. One of the lines is loosely translated, “Open the doors and let the sunshine in so we can dance and play.”

Sang “Tomorrow” from Annie for a school play when I was a child.

Really loved Disney’s Anastasia’s “Once Upon a December” and still enjoy it.

I sang Zippety Doo Dah for another school play when I was 8 years old.

Posted in Books, Culture, flashback, Quotes

#FOWC – Cartoons

“I like physics, but I love cartoons.” 
― Stephen Hawking

“Grown ups’ could learn a lesson from watching cartoons.” 
― James Jean-Pierre

“The animated cartoon has a lot to teach the writer, above all how to define characters and objects with a few strokes.” 
― Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read

Fandango came up with an irresistible prompt today: cartoons! As a child, it meant the various anime I watched for one hour after school on weekdays and three hours on Saturday mornings. In high school, it meant collecting several political cartoons for my current event assignments. In college, I read a fascinating comprehensive book by Scott McCloud on understanding the art of comics. Nowadays, I just marvel at what technology can bring to the table for movies and short animation clips. I love how easily a message can be conveyed by cartoons.