Monday, November 14, 2011

Food!...on the go, in the morning, and feeding friends!

Lately, I feel like I need to start cooking and baking again! What brought on this spark, you ask? 
1.Friends - who cook and entertain
2.Food blogs - showing their delicious food recipes that I seriously need to make
3.Being healthy - lately I have just been eating one meal a day, very terrible I know 

So we all know that breakfast is very important in the morning right! Well I am not a morning person, low and behold many years of staying up late have made in fact a very apt night owl as well sometimes cranky when I have bouts of insomnia. However, good tea, a full stomache, and a good read as well as journaling have helped me deal with my insomnia pretty effectively. Also if I want to get cracking on my goal of running a marathon and be more focused in the mornings and not a zombie then eating breakfast is ideal a must.Usually my breakfast may consist of eating Greek yogurt or eating a Cliff bar depending on how much time I have before I have to run to class. However, I had already come upon a very appetizing breakfast recipe in one the running blogs, The Runner's Plate, I like to follow but what made it even more appealing was that this recipe was also portable say if you put in mason jars as well as could be made in the night and enjoyed cold in the morning plus she being a runner packed all these other nice extras! Here is a clip of  blog post with links to the recipes and ideas of how to alter the recipes. She also has a recipe for overnight oats which is similar but doesn't require cooking the oats. I am going to try both oatmeal recipes. 

 I made “homemade” oats in a jar—if that is even possible.
Usually when you make “oats in a jar,” you use an almost-empty jar/container of nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, etc.). Well, I wanted oatmeal this morning, I wanted it to be portable, but I didn’t have an almost-empty jar of nut butter, so I made my own!

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Here’s how I did it. . . .
I started by filling a clean jar with almond butter–approximately 2 tablespoons.
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I then made oatmeal on the stove following these directions and poured it into the glass jar.
I topped it with the rest of my banana, a crumbled Lemon Pistachio Muffin, and unsweetened coconut.

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Speaking of mason jars, the other day I learned how to can food which was very easy but does require a lot of space as well as prep work. I guess if I want to make my mother's homemade salsa in a large quantity, I could easily can it. However, I recently stumbled upon the blog, The Big Red Kitchen that had posted a bunch of recipes you can cook and store in mason jars including a different version of overnight oats and even a chicken cordon bleu recipe! This is making me want to go out and buy a bunch of mason jars which can also handily be used as drinking cups in a pinch!

Secondly, I want to cook and entertain my friends sometime soon because there is nothing quite like having friends over for dinner. It is always sad when I end up cooking for myself. I, being a very social bird, like having friends over and am always happy when friends compliment my cooking as well and are well fed. I found this lovely recipe for a fancy dinner for friends that is basically roasted duck and a salad by perusing my food blogs. The recipes were actually from an old New York Times article, which I have to say if you haven't already checked out their Recipes for Health Section online then you have been missing out! I think that combined with a good bottle of wine and perhaps Bananas Foster for desert would be quite a fancy dinner for friends. Have I mentioned I love to spoil my friends and that I have never before eaten duck!

Lastly, I plan on making some very simple and easy pumpkin muffins for another quick and filling breakfast idea as well as to add some Fall to my food menu. Also baking makes this gal very happy. I mean I grew up baking before cooking! Sadly the recipe I am going to use calls for a cake mix and canned pumpkin (that's it guys!) but I being a baker would prefer to make my own muffins from scratch and not pre-made cake mixes. Well you got to do what you got to do right! If you have any other ideas for quick and easy breakfasts or good recipes for using mason jars, please let me know in a comment below! I love learning of new recipes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lessons learned in October

October has been a roller coaster of a month, but I feel like I have said that before about other months. On the bright side I have had plenty of time to hang out with friends and boy have I had some fun times! Those times though have helped me through the rough times. The funny thing is that when I was feeling at my lowest, I suddenly had a revelation that I was not the only one suffering the same misgivings about relationships between the opposite sex nor the only one with bad luck with guys; there is an epidemic of miscommunications as well as jerks.At first I was thinking that guys who are nice but then flake off or turn out to be jerks are worse than jerks. I also thought that having crushes on guys is just bad because then if they turn out not to like you after they got you all hopped up on hope and therefore much less inflated. However while reading one manga (which yes is a shoujou) I stumbled upon this scene:
NOTE: This reads right to left instead of left to right because it is Japanese!


At first I didn't think too much about the scene but then it hit me what she said. We spend so much time thinking about the end result that we don't see that we have had happy memories in between. In my experience I was so focused on getting a boyfriend that I couldn't just have fun playing around with guys. I wanted that security and comfort but in the end, when I did reach that I didn't even know how to act. Applying this principle to any situation that takes a process I think helps us to get so much more out of whatever we are doing.
Currently I am enjoying flirting, channeling some River Song from Doctor Who but also some Tina Fey from reading her book Bossy Pants. In the book, Tina talks about how the rules of Impromptu changed her life. 

The rules of improvisation appealed to me not only as a way of creating comedy, but as a  worldview. Studying improvisation literally changed my life.
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE., Always agree and SAY YES. When you're improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created... Now obviously in real life you're not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement  reminds you to  "respect what your partner has created" and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.
The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes but YES,AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own...To me YES,AND means don't be afraid to contribute. It's your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you're adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.
The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying "Don't ask questions all the time." Whatever the problem, be a part of the solution. Make statements, with your actions and your voice.
THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.

I hadn't realized that after reading her book, I had started to put most of the rules into action. I am still working on the Making Statements and Not being afraid to contribute but hey somethings are easier than others.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Words that reveal blindness


Here are the newlyweds on the beach!
So this week I am sick, ironically I got sick on the leg back up from Cancun/my brother's wedding. Word of caution, if you can avoid transferring planes in Mexico City, its a pain in the butt! Fortunately, though my throat isn't hurting and the phlegm is under control so that I am not gagging on it. All things that made Monday quite unbearable. I am not sure what I got, it's feeling more like a cold these days but I am okay with that as I am not letting it bog me down too much. Though last night I feared for my classes but God gave me strength today to attend them despite getting like 2.5 hrs of sleep. My voice is also coming back, still raspy but atleast its not completely gone. Something I am very thankful for since I need to practice speaking for my language classes. Then I read this quote by Paulo Coelho, author of the Alchemist:

A blind man was begging on the road to Mecca, when a pious Moslem came over and asked whether the people were giving generously – as the Koran commands. The man showed him his little tin, which was almost empty. The traveler said:

- Let me write something on the card around your neck.

Hours later, the traveler returned. The beggar was surprised, for he had received a large amount of money.
- What did you write on the card? – he asked.
- All I wrote was: Today is a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, and I am blind.

At first I didn't understand the message, then I scrolled down and someone had posted this youtube video with the same message:
That's when I understood what it was saying and I thought how true it is we are all blind sometimes to the blessings we have. I wonder myself how many times I have walked by and ignored those in need or how often we don't think about those lovely spring days because so much else is pressing on our minds. I am especially thankful for those writers like Paulo that can express the thoughts that I am thinking about but can never articulate well enough. It is why I like languages, they allow me to see things differently than otherwise I would have by simply using different words.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Creative Juices II - first sketch

First week of classes has been going well and I am excited to be back in the art studio, more specifically the print making studio. Today we started working on a collograph but mainly had time to mix paint/colors which was so therapeutic and fun for me so when I got back to my room, I just wanted to keep those art juices/humours flowing and followed up on the last post. This is the first draft/pencil sketch of what I was thinking. Originally from the waist down it was going to be fully patterned but then that was going to be a lot of work and then later I realized that it would make it look too busy and draw away from the dress form. I intend to make a nicer drawing of this and then color it at a later point. So stay tuned if you are so inclined to do so and leave comments as well.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Creative Juices flowing...inspired/fueled by tumblr!

So there is this dress which is pretty but I thought I would spice it up to emulate...
The absolutely amazingingly belished Toms! Can you see it. Okay maybe its just me but I do wish I could make my Toms like this!
This street wall art, one of my friends found and posted on the Fb. The only non-tumblr photo! Reminds me of this last tumblr photo below...
Which reminds me of Disney's Tangled! Still I kind of wish I could be there. Something to add to my new Moleskin Travel Journal!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ice Cream and books don't blend but Books and Food do!

Today is supposedly National Ice Cream Sandwich Day! Let me tell you, I love ice cream sandwiches! I grew up on the chocolate rectangular wafers with vanilla center (i guess they are called original) ice cream sandwhiches! The definitely bring back summer memories! Food network however, has come up with some inventive ice cream sandwhiches such as one with cherry ice cream sandwiched between an almond croissant! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/super-cool-ice-cream-sandwiches/pictures/index.html

On another note, the latest buzz of foodies everywhere is David Chang's new food magazine called Lucky Peach. It combines the best of food magazines with the best of art magazines to create a one of a kind thing. Even the NY Times wrote an article about it (here). I am going to have to order myself a copy because it is sold out in Barnes and Nobles and I am guessing Borders too.

Sadly Borders will be closing after all and I know that their prices were more expensive than Amazon, but there was just something about going into a bookstore and being able to peruse the many aisles of book that beats looking at books online. Now, I know that Kindle's are very popular and ebooks are cheaper but I am a bibliophile. Though, I have yet to go shopping at used bookstores, but still there is nothing like holding a book in your hands and even more points if its an older book and smelling those pages.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top Thoughts Running Through an Insomniac's Mind

Let's talk about things on my mind lately since I have of late resumed insomniac activities. Also its nice to just be able to rant about these things! So here they are the most common topics on my mind currently:
  1. Travel
  2. Food
  3. Running
Travel-
I find that one thing I have found the most enjoyable of traveling is being able to get lost in a city. I mean travel guides are great and all but where's the adventure in having everything before you. It is funny that on my first day in France, I was forced to think on my feet and well for the first 6 hours I was like oh crap, had I just arrived on my own though things would have been easier as I had already a destination to be but I was concerned about the people I was supposed to meet up with however there was a time set to meet at our destination and so that forced me to move forward rather than continue waiting for people. Once at my hotel, I learned I had jumped the gun and was a day ahead of my group's arrival. It was nice though once I had dropped off my luggage with still plenty of time to stroll the streets, that I decided to do some solo exploration and well that was really my only solo exploration time. I discovered some great spots and because of getting lost I was able to orient myself better in the city.
I wonder why it is people panic when they are lost. I mean besides the fact panicking only makes things worst; you can only be lost so much before you find your way around. When in doubt, you can always ask a local. A few times I was even mistaken for a local but on most cases I was able to answer their questions pretty well. I never thought I look French but I guess being myself you blend in very well to most mixed races.
I even got lost on the Paris Metro going to Versailles if you follow my blog but in the end, I got there, by grace of God and I didn't at all despair. I may have accidentally mislead some other tourists though. Well it was bound to happen, some Metros are indeed tricky. I can only imagine what it will be like to maneuver through Japan's rail system. But Paris, was fairly straightforward and there were at least one person who spoke English available to help at the stations. However, one thing to also keep in mind, is its important to know the holidays of the country you will be visiting. On my way to Versailles, I had a long wait to get a ticket and there were some people running late to the airport who also were waiting long in line. I felt bad for them; I mean I doubt they were going to make it in time but it would have been good if they had gotten their tickets beforehand rather than wait in line. I nearly despaired when I kept coming back to the first train station twice, gah, but then I managed to get on the right one at last and once at Versailles, the whole getting lost in the Metro didn't seem at all a fiasco but more a tale to tell or a passage of right. Honestly, it was nice that I was by myself at the time too because being in a group is a lot harder to travel with I also realized. I am only responsible for myself and no one else at those times and I had no one to worry about getting lost besides myself nor any panicking person. Oh thank god for Douglas Adams and his very astute advice - Don't Panic!

Food-
It was an interesting thing to note how food in France is much a better quality. I mean junk food was just as expensive as our healthy food. They had farmers markets every week -though I am not sure about in the winter - and I noticed that these people don't stock pile food like most people do and I have of late been doing. My host mother for one thing bought the food that she was gonna cook with on that day and cooked it that day. Something I need to be more diligent about. Their fridge was a lot smaller and definitely did not cool as much. In fact, they reminded me of the old 50's model fridges. There was no pantry. The kitchen was a small one, smaller than my studio kitchen of my old apartment. Yet my host mother managed to cook delicious food in that kitchen; goes to show you, you don't need a large kitchen to cook well but you do need plenty of time to cook well. My host mother would be cooking for atleast an hour before the food was ready.

Running-
I recently read in a NY Times article that our body is very lazy and clever in its laziness. It adjusts to running on different surfaces and once adjusted stays that way. Hence, those so-called toning shoes don't really tone because our body only adjusts the muscles to work with it one way. However the article did say that certain people liked the feel of toning shoes better and well if that gets you exercising all the better. Similarly, running on soft ground is no better for your feet than running on pavement for the same reason. Our feet adjust to the ground and impact forces and shoes also help to manage it. If you, for instance, are like me and wear cushioned shoes that help your with your feet balance and level, then that same cushioning acts like soft ground would naturally. However, the one nice thing about pavements/asphalt trails is that the ground is usually flat and level and thus better for your ankles and less stress with uneven ground. So here I thought I running on soft ground helped lessen the impact on my knees but really the shoes are what do that. I am not sure they have measured the effects of running with the ever-growing popularity of the five-finger shoes. Though from my friends who do use them, they have all said positive things and become very much advocates for the shoes. However, I would not advise people to wear those shoes for casual outings unless they are prepared to explain to strangers the new shoes as they are still quite the novelty!


Friday, July 08, 2011

France in my mind!

Lately I have been waking up feeling ill as in feeling nauseous and well that has made me less inclined to eat. This is not a good thing as I need to eat since I am supposed to be training for a marathon. So I have fallen into this downward spiral of not feeling well, not eating well, not training = not feeling well next day. I attribute some of these sick mornings to not eating healthy as I have been eating some junk food and lately pizza and not enough healthy food. So I need to be better about eating well and getting more carbs in diet. Trader Joe's food section is very alluring at these times but not so economical.

Then I got to thinking, I need to just get up and have light breakfast and that reminded me of when I was in Paris, our hotel would give us a baguette with cheese or nutella to put on, milk or tea to drink, and a cup of fruit and often enough that would keep me filled without feeling heavy in the morning. I am pretty sure that this was a very Parisien if not French breakfast and now I find myself thinking, I much prefer that type of breakfast to our very heavy foods Why is it that Americans think they should eat a lot at every meal? I mean we are the bread basket of the world, though not the best bread I would add.

Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good hearty breakfast some days but often enough I get up feel like making a good hearty breakfast is too much work in the morning and smoothies use the loud blender. But tea, mint tea especially will do good for my stomache, and bread with cheese and possibly jam too. Now that I can stomache and get some carbs while I am at it.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Versailles - Highs and Lows



So today I visited Versailles and it was wonderful! I walked around most of the grounds though 20% I did not get a chance to see. However, it was all completely wonderful I will have to admit so I am going to make a list post today. With the music coming out of who knows where all around the main grounds, I kept imagining the statues coming to life because they were so white against the greens of the trees and bushes behind them. Also, I have noted that in answer to a friend's question regarding the trees, trees in French gardens are trimmed square. That's right square!


Highs:
  • I got to Versailles!
  • I got to experience the fountains with classical music
  • Walked around the Grand Canal on the trail of an old couple (very cute)
  • Saw Marie-Antoinette's grounds, beautiful!
  • Met a lady and her daughter from Philadelphia on the way back
  • Felt God's presence with me walking around the gardens/park
  • Wonderful sunny weather with a cool breeze for a walk in the park
  • Getting chips and a waffle snack from Vending machine when I just paid for an Orangina!
Lows:
  • Had a train mix up and spent 2 hrs instead of 1 hr getting to Versailles
  • My lunch took forever to arrive at a cafe on the grounds, poor service!
  • Dealing with a long line to get tickets at the train station in the morning
  • Dealing with a huge amount of tourists in line and in the Palace - literally felt like we were being herded as we crammed through doorways meant for at most two people
  • Wished I had gone to Baylor so I could have had something to talk about with another girl on the train back.
The line! Thankfully it do go by quickly.
These doors were made for just the important people and yet look at us herding in through them, gah!




Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Paris Revisited

This being my second time in Paris but in a completely new part of town, feels nearly the same as the first. Arriving, my friend Christine and I actually missed the train we were supposed to get on and got super stressed out about that but luckily we found a friend whose host-mom really did us a huge favor and took us to the train station and got us situated. However, once we got to Paris, we encountered our second problem - finding the hotel. Unlucky for me, I was overwhelmed with luggage and otherwise I would have taken a metro to our stop but I was exhausted and stressed out so I suggested we just take a taxi and well the taxi seemed to figure out where the hotel was located. I think he sort of took advantage of us too because he charged us for our luggage which had never occurred before but oh well. I was just glad we got to our hotel safely and could relax at last.

The second day of Paris was a little more relaxing but the weather was cold and windy with 50% chance of rain (thankfully we didn't feel any rain while wandering around). This time we walked to Le Sacred Couer church nearby and visited Edgar Degas' grave as well as Emile Zolas' at the Montmarte Cemetary and on the way back we grabbed some sandwiches to drink. Then chilled at my friend's room for a bit before deciding to head out to watch Water for Elephants at a nearby theater (in English). Then we came back and chilled out in our rooms.

Tomorrow I am hitting up the Louvre for most of the day. Then going to look for a cheap duffel bag to better pack my stuff so I won't be struggling anymore carrying my stuff to and from. On the way there, I am going to hit some recommended restaurants and pastry shops thanks to Clotilde's Paris guide from her blog Chocolate and Zucchini (http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2008/09/twelve_hours_in_paris.php ).

It is interesting to be reading up on Paris while I am in Paris and I am excited about the possiblity to check these places out but also scared about my French speaking skills. On the bright side, I have already found a park where I can sit down and read in peace and the sun does not set here until like 9.5 pm and with all the tourists abound, I feel more safe than if I were in New York City.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Travel Tips for France (and possibly other European countries)

A couple things to note when traveling in France:
  1. Besides Paris and at least through most of Provence, cities and towns (obviously) are small and therefore it is greatly encouraged to walk rather than drive because
  2. Besides the main streets, the rest of the streets are small, narrow, sometimes winding and often confusing and filled with pedestrians
  3. Public transportation is great and the most affordable way to get around France and usually very reliable (on time) and can be taken to most tourist places, but
  4. If taking buses, you are forewarned that it can be a bit much as roads are small, narrow, sometimes winding and often confusing as well as filled with lots of round-abouts rather than stops and very sharp turns -making it easy to get nauseous and
  5. Secondly if you do decide to drive, people in France drive incredibly fast including buses and tailgating happens a lot (There was even a few times I felt the bus was close to getting into an accident but didn't thankfully.)
  6. If taking the metro, like most metros, it can be quite an experience and quite a bit hard to figure out how to get around with it but it can be done. Just be wary of people around you - we encountered an angry person on the phone shouting on one train as well as barely managing to get into one train without leaving others behind. I almost forgot also that you have to open the doors manually (heh - I thought they were automatic but not the case for some).
  7. The offices of tourism are also handy places to find maps of towns as well as to find out what is happening in town and directions.
  8. Lastly, maps are useful for figuring out the layout of towns and cities but not great for actually finding places as not all streets will be listed and things are not to scale
  9. The best way to find your way in town is to just go exploring and figure things out as you get lost by landmarks
  10. Signs may not always lead you in the right direction either, we have found out these last couple of days. There have been a few times when we got lost because we were following arrows on signs.
  11. Google maps is handy but unless you have internet access 24/7. You cannot rely on it very well.

So hopefully these things will help you out in your next trip to France. Another good advice that isn't very well advice but is very useful and from my favorite author is: Don't Panic! If you get lost, just take a breath figure out where exactly you are on a map or in relation to your starting point and if in doubt ask a local or back track your steps. Panicking solves nothing and gets you even more lost and thus losing more time.

Now if only America could get public transportation right. I mean if Europe can do it with its winding tight roads, then shouldn't the logic follow that we can do it with wide roads. Well, the downfall is the nausea caused by it. I usually don't get motion/car sickness but with all the traveling and winding and twisting and bumping plus the shift in eating habits, the bus rides have been making me sick. Oddly it is only on the trip back I feel it; on the way there, I am usually fine. I am debating whether I want to risk getting nauseous again to go to the beach in Cassis but that path is such a winding road and not just because it goes through some hills to get to the coast but because the bus has to make some figure eights to change directions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

So you know how I was saying I was tired of sandwiches, well now I am tired of Pizza. These last couple of days I have managed to eat pizza consecutively and not enough of breakfast. Fortunately, last night we had potato gnocchi with carbonara sauce and it was yummy plus vanilla yogurt for desert. The rest was pizza -lunch since monday, tuesday and today as well as for dinner. It has been good pizza and a bit different from the pizza we are used to back home but I guess I am used to it from reading food blogs online where I have been introduced to cuisine I would have otherwise such as lemoncello ice cream and different types of pizza (mainly from smitten kitchen =] ).

These past couple of days have gone by so quickly. I can hardly believe we are in the middle of the second week and will be leaving in four days. If it weren't for my host family and their grace to let me come live with them, I am sure I would have been winded from all the traveling we have done. I mean we have been traveling every other day (a free day in between each planned travel) and well it happens that on my last free day (yesterday) I traveled back to Marseille which was a pretty big city but very pretty as well. We spent that day down on the beach and the day before we were visiting the monuments. I was glad to be able to see and smell the sea again; I had missed visiting it.

Today we went to Avignon, a bit longer of a trip (1.5 hrs by bus from Aix-en-Provence) which made the trip a bit more exhausting. We got to see the Pope's Palace, the Avignon Bridge, and some art in a museum there and then some shopping in which I found the prettiest shirts n a nice skirt! So now I have two new outfits. I will try and wear them out soon and take pics and post on here so you all can see. It will be my fashion Friday post!

Once again sorry that I have no pictures up lately. I have just been so exhausted these last days as besides the bus to and from Aix, the majority of the time we have been walking and out in the sun so much so that I get back to my room here and barely have energy to shower and journal. No time for reading, just what is necessary -showering, eating, and journaling (for my class credit). Last night my host mother's son (Manu) invited us to watch a movie with him but after 10 min of sitting on the couch, I was overcome with extreme fatigue and I had to opt out. It is sometimes hard to tell how late we are out here because the sun is up for longer than I am used to in New Mexico - it sets at around 10pm here instead of 8 pm. I think if it weren't for the others on the trip with me and their energy, I would be exhausted otherwise.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aix-en-Provence

It has been four days since we have arrived in Aix-en-Provence and I am feeling a bit winded from the non-stop activities. It feels nice though being able to come home to a host family and to my own room. It is a very simple room but the simplicity is nice so that I don't feel overwhelmed and can relax better. I really like my room and my host mother is very nice but I feel like I really haven't had French food except for pastries and sandwiches and cheese.

When we were in Paris, we ate at certain restaurants but only once do I remember eating at French restaurant and that was for lunch. I had a salmon n spinach tart (kind of like a quiche) and a rhubarb tart for lunch. It was delicious. On our free days, I remember eating crepes because they were street food. The last day I believe we ate kabobs (gyros in the States) and baguette sandwiches once in a while. We also had some Moroccan food.

Now in Aix where you would think the food would be cheaper, we are having picnics with bread, cheese (which is very good), fruit (also very good and I even got to eat the much prized strawberries here) and sausage (a new experience for sure) but all these things don't make for much filling. I guess its good that I usually have a our host mom make us dinner. However, she has made Vietnamese food. On our first night here, we ate a frozen "lasagna" dinner, and last night we had "sandwiches." So not what we would imagine to be French food but in a sense it is French food because it was eaten in France. In addition, paninis and pizza seem to be very common food here in Provence; being so close to France there is quite a bit of an Italian influence in food. The pizza we ate tonight since it was the day off for our host mom was at a good price and they had quite a following when we arrived at the pizza stand.

This begs the question, what makes food French? I mean the French have become as much as a melting pot as Americans. There South Africans, Middle East and even Asian descended people here. Even my host mother is part Vietnamese, something our host-brother Emmanuel likes to claim as well. I had thought that being in southern France, we would have more sea food but that is not entirely all there is to Provençal food; however part of the lovely ambience of Aix is that there are fish, food, and flea markets every Saturday. Something I find very close to home and not just the farmer's markets but also the flea market as that was something very common in the small town my mother grew up in.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Food, fashion, and fun!

These last couple of days here in Paris have been a blast and my feet have been quite a bit sore from all the walking. It is sad that it will be the last day in Paris though I may come back for a half a day since I have to fly out from here. From the time spent here, I have learned :
  1. Parisians love to eat out and will eat different types of cuisine each day
  2. Bread is regulated here so that it is good quality and affordable for people to eat
  3. Scarves and plaid are the fashion here, though not many people were seen wearing plaid
  4. Not all Parisians are mean; we have encountered some very nice people here but street gypsies are very persistent and annoying and will call you Lady Gaga, pretty girl and hit on you to get your attention which you should by no means even pay them attention.\
Sadly I have no pictures of the fashion or food, but I may steal some photos from my roommates who were more diligent at taking pictures and I have already shown the bread pictures but I will post some interesting Paris photos.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Carbs revisted!

A French Bakery (Boulangerie)
Macaroons, tarts, croissants, and a tea salon next door to boot! I had to keep my head calm and clear as I walked in to keep up my camouflage as a Parisian and not a tourist, though that cover was blown as soon as I joined my group. I was even stopped a couple of times by others and asked in French about how to get to places or about the time and day despite wearing some vivid colors, I apparently looked very Parisian indeed!


It is no surprise that the French love bread! So randomly stumbling upon the Notre Dame and I do mean stumbling because I was just wandering out Paris with a poor sense of direction and only just searching for an internet cafe (which I have yet to find), I suddenly saw a park that was across the street from it and low and behold, they had a FĂȘte du Pain or (Bread Festival) which showcased some very creative Pastry Chefs.


From years of traveling around, I am quite used to wandering a bit but this time arriving at the Paris airport, I found myself quite lost. However, once I found my hotel, I was able to wander about aimlessly and situate myself in the city despite my lack of direction. Ah for the love of bread, and their ingenious use of baguettes for sandwiches as well as crepes, the French have one me over.




Monday, May 09, 2011

Carbs!

I love carbohydrates! in all its forms. I mean bread is just the most amazing thing, and well I have been baking since I discovered that the store-bought cake mixes make pretty tasty cakes. Not to mention bread also tastes so good when you are a starving college student; no wonder in literature poor people (I am thinking Les Miserables here) would steal bread! I also have been in love with pasta of all kinds since little. I would eat at least two bowls of spaghetti every time my mom made it!

Cakes and fruit tarts!

Now that I am planning on running a marathon which means extensive running, I have even more incentives to eat carbs because they are a runner's best friend! So I am going to hunt for some delicious pasta recipes. I already found the most amazing simple tomato sauce recipe! I also discovered an interesting French linguine recipe that calls for butter, dried fruits and pistachios that I want to try out sometime soon.

Also going back home this last weekend, I was so nostalgic for pan dulce or sweet bread that I grew up eating all the time. It brings back memories of my youth as does dancing. My mom took me to the local bakery to pick out my own bread and boy did that make me happy! I was smiling from ear to ear and I ended up buying a lot of bread.
The local bakery where I got my pan dulce!
All the different kinds of pan dulce! I had a hard time choosing which pastries I wanted!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Picture Fridays!


In honor of Fridays and all they mean I have decided to post an interesting picture I took either new or archived! Hope everyone enjoys! Also I am going to change my layout sometime soon but just trying to figure out the kinks of blogger.

These are my favorite hangouts on campus! This is in a cove near the Humanities building and the Art building. I love that is hidden and has a Japanese feel to it! It seems to be maintained by a group on campus because there sometimes is a guestbook to sign and comment on.


Below is in front of Zimmerman library. Sadly the fountain isn't always on.


Monday, April 11, 2011

A Dance History

Question: What songs did you grow up dancing to and what are you go to dance songs now?

Recently I realized how much I missed dancing. This may sound quite silly, why would I miss it you ask? Well for a while I was not dancing because I felt like I wasn't a good dancer, this I think most people will say is false. However, I am definitely not the best partner for dancing because I can tend to lead sometimes. It is something I cannot help unless you are forceful. This has lead to some rather disheartening experiences o the dance floor where I am suddenly confronted by better dancers and guys who refuse to dance with me. Happily, though, I have decided to not care anymore.

A brief history of my dance record: As far as I can remember I have loved to danced to music and when I was little my mom would always play La Bamba by Ricky Valentino on my birthday and I would so dance my butt off! I would also dance at every wedding and similar celebrations.

Some point in elementary, I fell in love with Ballet like your typical little girl. Let's face it who doesn't love watching the Nutcracker Ballet or isn't transported to a different time. It may seem cliche but even the NYTimes wrote an article about how popular it is and has been countlessly rethought n reproduced every christmas year. Sadly this was the start of my awareness of how I was just mediocre as I wasn't as flexible as some of my fellow ballerinas but I still enjoyed the classes. However, I realized I wouldn't be a professional ballerina nor did I ever have a professional ballet recital as I didn't go to a professional dance studio but a community one that kept switching teachers.

At the same time, being born in a Latin family, there were plenty of opportunities for going salsa dancing with relatives and salsa,meringue, and the like became my dance repoitoire of choice.

Come college time, I am introduced to swing and soon come to love it as well. At first I feel I am just as good as when I was little as the rhythm guides my steps and I can usually fall back on my partner to lead me, but as per usual I find people that are better and soon find myself being a wallflower watching others dance wishing I never lacked a partner.

In college, I also have taken Ballroom Dancing and Flamenco classes all which have greatly improved my dance skills but because I don't exceed well in them, I am a bit discouraged and as they are partner dances I have not many opportunities to practice. Yet the basic lessons learned have sticked with me.

Soon after most of my friends graduated, I found myself dancing less and less until I pretty much stopped dancing. So when I went to a friend's wedding last New Year's and there was music playing, I suddenly had an urge to dance but there weren't many people dancing on the floor (sadness) and then my present crush was there and I really wished he would ask me to dance - but he didn't and I didn't have the courage to dance by myself. So I ended up leaving the wedding on a sad note because suddenly I realized how much dance was a part of my identity so to speak.

Fast forward to another friend's wedding this spring, there were plenty of single dancing friends and even one outstanding little dancing girl (she did some impressive worms) and so I felt very comfortable dancing like no other person on the floor with all my friends who were encouraged to dance by my dancing. That's when it dawned on me, that dancing is something I could never give up.

So when another friend decided to have a dance party, I jumped on board! It was such a blast! I met some new people and danced until I couldn't stand, got complimented on my hair after my bun fell apart as well as on my dancing, even danced with my crush for the first time ever! After that party, I came home with such a dance high that I couldn't stop smiling and even still can't stop thinking about it! There I usually had a dance partner or dance group to continually dance.
I did not feel at all self-conscious about my dance skills and supremely enjoyed myself despite some dirty dancing going on =P. I went to just dance and dance I did.

As if that weren't enough proof (for myself mainly) that I can't give up dance, my first major crush was a ballroom dancer, my second major crush was a former ballet dancer, and well I danced with my current crush. So needless to say, dance will from this point on continue to be a major part of my life. Did I mention it is really great stress relief? So I can't help but to dance/ move to the rhythm of music even sitting down and am now dancing to Lady Gaga's Just Dance which kind suits the dance party I went to!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Just a funny picture of my roommate's cat. Just look how fashionable she is, how did she know stripes were in? lol. Anyhow, she is actually not so happy. I managed to really wrap her up in my scarf. Hope you guys laugh as much as I did.
*Edit: A much clearer picture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

So it's nothing new that I like looking at food blogs, however some may be surprised to find my alcohol cabinet getting fuller. Not that I dislike alcohol but it was just that I had no desire to become "wasted" and the previous circle of friends I had was never much into alcohol either so there was no reason I should find myself getting drunk or buzzed a common thing. However, recently, my circle of friends has shifted to include those that do enjoy going out for drinks and at the same time I have found that this has also correlated to having booze in foods which is the main reason for my alcohol cabinet growing, though some of my wines are just for enjoying on their own too! Even though I have been out drinking more and have enlarged my knowledge of beers and wine, I still am quite new to the world of mixed drinks and even some beers.
I have yet to get completely wasted but friends have told me that I have been drunk. I just always thought that drunk and wasted were equivalent terms but that doesn't seem to be the case. It would be interesting to hear what others think about that, so please do comment. Currently, I believe that being wasted is such that you have no control but you can still be drunk and have some control just your sense of balance is off and buzzed is when you are still in control but you can feel the alcohol start to make you lose balance. Anyhow, I find myself being in that older group that does enjoy going out for drinks and oddly enough I decided for my 25th birthday to celebrate it at a pub. I just wanted it to be a low key thing where I could hang out with some of my favorite peeps and have a good time. The place is one of my favorite places and others agree - Two Fools Tavern is pretty awesome; the food is great and the atmosphere is so chill. So it seemed appropriate. As the years go by, I think I just enjoy hanging out with friends the best.

Now I am not dissing on my friends who don't drink, but hey ever since I have opened up to alcohol, I have found it to be quite a blessing. Of course, this is always in moderation but that's how all good things must be. Now, recently I found on one of my new blogs a pear tart with whiskey in it and now I am hankering to add some good whiskey to my alcohol cabinet. I also need to get a pie dish and a dutch oven. Heh, the more I cook the more I tend to accrue both alcohol and kitchen items, but sadly having roommates who come and go and can't remember what is their stuff means that some of my things get taken. I will eventually start bugging them to return my stuff because being a sentimental person as well as frugal, losing my kitchen supplies is really infuriating to me!

It's funny how the things I like sort of fit together like a puzzle. I love entertaining (something a big house as I live in has made super easy), good food, friends, cooking, and art and together that makes for some awesomely good times!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A truth that has struck me recently is something that I knew but never once did I grasp completely, only fleetingly. Recently, however, I have found my life to be enriched the more that I sought out God and the more that I found myself clinging to His everlasting love. Yet, He is the one constant person in my whole life who has done more for me than I could ever imagine, the one true Father. He who created me as I am knowing full well how dangerous it was to leave me to forces of nature and urbanism and people, yet He fully trusted me. He knew I would succeed, succeed in finding myself. I couldn't have done it without Him. Here is a poem I wrote to describe my feelings...

Existence


The music flows
The wind blows
The sun shines
My heart beats

With every moment
Time brings something new
Sadness and joy intermingle
With this one beat

Chaos brought me
Order formed me
Fighting each other
Harmony and melody form
Dancing with each other
The dance of life

In this moment I am made one
I exist as no other can
Dancing on the breeze
Swaying in the music
Fighting the tides
Yet alive nonetheless

Like the prima donna ballerina
The eagle in the sky
The Energy guiding me
Toward the ever warming light

Light that shines in the darkness
Warms you in the depths of winter
Blindingly clear after the storm
When all else is washed away
Only I remain
Only truth remains