home cookin’ challenge of 2020

Given my current trajectory, I’m anticipating I’ll be home cookin’ all throughout 2020, so I thought of an interesting challenge for myself. Each month, I’m going to specifically try one recipe I find on WordPress, so I’ll have cooked up a total of 12 different recipes by the end of December 2020. I’m super excited!

Skillet Orange Chicken
orange chicken and rice

For any food bloggers (or food enthusiasts like me) who are reading, feel free to post a recipe you think I should try and leave a link down below. I’ll definitely check out some of the food bloggers I’m currently following to see if I get inspired.

The recipes I’m specifically looking for are going to be ones I haven’t necessarily tried before, the ingredients aren’t too expensive and aren’t too complicated to make. I’ll post up photographs of my finished creation. I’m excited to bake some desserts, try some new appetizers and discover some great wholesome dinner recipes.

Strawberry cheesecake crumble bars (2)
Strawberry cheesecake crumble bars

Reasons for doing this:

  • It’s a challenge, so it’ll be interesting to see if I actually complete this!
  • I’m always up for learning new things, so I’m sure there are so many recipes out there that I’ll love and would want to use over and over again.
  • This will keep me motivated to do more home cookin’ in case I lose steam next year and get me to document more like I used to.
  • I want to also showcase some cool WordPress food blogs out here and give them some love!

Feel free to join the home cookin’ challenge of 2020 if you think this is something you’d like to do, too. I’d LOVE to follow and see which recipes you end up choosing each month, as well. I guess I’ll stick this on my homepage, so I don’t forget!

home cookin’ challenge of 2020 | recipe 1
home cookin’ challenge of 2020 | recipe 2
home cookin’ challenge of 2020 | recipe 3

Film review: Before We Go (2015)

Potential spoilers ahead

Before We Go is a romantic film that follows two strangers, Nick and Brooke, in New York who spends most of the night walking and talking with a few unexpected side adventures in between. It was directed by Chris Evans, who also starred in it with Alice Eve.

It is sweet and cute with semi-cheesy factor. I found myself comparing it to such films as Before Sunrise and a little like Lost in Translation. I suppose that’s not so far off considering it centers around two lost strangers in the city who find love for each other despite having just met. There are some nice one-liners and the sincerity of Nick is admirable. I do like the tone of the movie, as well.

But unlike the other films, this film lacks a transparent vulnerability that would have otherwise captured the audience more. Moved them. Inspired them. Just like this film, the characters seem to have potential for more depth, but something seems to hold them back. The film is also too derivative, but I think most films are nowadays let alone a romantic one.

Overall, I enjoyed watching the film and the characters are likeable. It’s a nice way to spend a weekend afternoon.

blondies with milk chocolate pieces

blondies with milk chocolate pieces

The other night, I made blondies using pieces of milk chocolate bar pieces. They were tasty, but WAY too sweet for me. I actually liked them better the second day, when it tasted more like a cookie.

I think I satiated my sugar craving with that dessert. But, I do love baking, so you’ll probably see some more baked goods in the near future.

strength & fragility | pandemic reflections

tea coffee cup warm black and white photograph

I have just updated my index page and I came across a poem I had written last year titled, strength and fragility:

“my cold tea sweetened
by honey drips melted
swirls of ancient remedies
stories etched on tea leaves
revisions of drafts over
and over through generations.
sweet and bitter intermingled
exists only with each other
spoon mixes all this up
in an antique cup filled
in strength and fragility.”

And after reading this, I thought about how it feels relevant. That someday, this covid-19 pandemic will be our past, not our present. This time in our lives will be something we carry with us. Stories that will be told many years after this. The world will never feel the same.

Generations after us will perceive this pandemic differently. We are shaping their lives and our future right this minute by how we act in and deal with this situation. Just as past global crises have been our guides and standards, this pandemic will be the same. We are paving a path whether we acknowledge that or not.

Our actions have always mattered, but this global crisis has made it so evident. Every one of us has the responsibility to save one another by washing our hands and physically distancing ourselves to prevent spread. I am grateful for the strength from each of you during this fragile time.

love is still the answer

Jason Mraz asked people to submit video footage of love and then he compiled a lot of them into this video that was created for his song, Love Is Still The Answer. To see the video in its entirety, especially in this now coronavirus time, means so much to me. As much as I’ve seen, read and watched devastating and heartbreaking news, I’ve seen kindness, heroism and love during this time, as well. And just like this video, I want to celebrate love and put that as our focus to solving the multiple problems we are facing now.

a little update on the indoor garden

I planted a few seeds. The lavender seeds did not do so well. I think I only have one baby plant that is barely holding on. However, good news is that there are a few seeds that did well; especially the cornflowers. Basil also did a great job, but most of the seedlings popped up after I took these photos. I’d say so far, marigolds are the easiest plants to manage from first seed planting to now. I have been watering them very often and placed them by a window with very good direct light.

Marigolds are doing so well. I’m going to transplant them into individual containers soon as you can see, it’s a little forest at this point.

Marigold baby plants

I believe these are forget-me-nots, which ironically, I can’t remember. But they shall show themselves in due time.

Forget me not baby plants maybe

The cornflowers are way taller than my last update. I can’t wait to plant these outside! The weather’s been bad, so I’m afraid to leave them outdoors only for them to be exposed to the strong weather and winds.

cornflower plants

Other gardening posts you might like to read:
fun gardening day
houseplant portraits & updates


Thank you doctors, nurses and first responders

Thank you for helping our entire world,
Since the panic, stress & fear unfurled.
When the virus first came on the scene,
No one really knew what that would mean.
But you continue to save lives day and night,
You persevere on with all of your might (and light).
I don’t think you anticipated this situation,
In your medical training and simulations.
But you face this with courage and passion,
Strength and will in superhero fashion.
My heart and gratitude goes out to all of you;
Angels who save us through and through.

houseplant portraits & updates

When I was taking photographs for my next gardening update, I decided to take some time and show some love to my houseplants, as well. Enjoy!

Bamboo plant in upcycled tomato sauce jar

My bamboo plants were starting to get yellow leaves, so I decided to separate them and give them each a new home in these upcycled tomato sauce glass jars I’ve been holding onto. As you can tell by the green stem, this one is seemingly happy where he is now. I love seeing the new growth potential with the leaves. There were some I planted in soil and they are thriving in that environment, as well.

Happy philodendron

She’s a happy mama. When I tried out the philodendron gardening experiment, I used two cuttings from this plant. One was planted in soil and has done well. It’s rooted for sure and I see new leaves growing, as well. The other was placed in a baby upcycled glass jar with water, but it did not do as well. There was mold growing nearby the stem, so I cut off that stem part, and replanted the other side that had potential growth in soil. The new leaf just opened a couple of days ago. There’s also another leaf growing. Here’s the baby philodendron:

baby philodendron plant with ceramic baby deer
Baby philodendron plant with ceramic baby deer
peperomia obtusifolia (baby rubber plant)
peperomia obtusifolia (baby rubber plant)

I wrote a post on this peperomia the other day. He’s hanging in there and looks healthier than before. I’m trying to see if the stem on the side can succeed in growing. It, unfortunately, was part of a stem that had turned bad and needed to be composted out. Overall, these are the most low-maintenance of the bunch, I’d say.

the mandarin duck | a nice surprise

mandarin duck maybe
Could this be an actual mandarin duck?

As I’ve been sharing photographs of Hawaii, I came upon this one. I believe it’s a mandarin duck and if you Google that term, you’ll see a very exotic bird! I see similar characteristics, so I do think it might be. How very odd! I must have forgotten I saw this in person. And so for me, this is quite a nice surprise.

rice noodle stir fry with ground turkey & spinach

Rice noodle stir fry
Rice noodles, ground turkey, spinach, garlic & green onions in sesame oil and soy sauce

Last night I cooked with noodles I don’t usually cook with. I wanted to make an udon stir-fry, and basically re-organized my freezer to see if I had any left. And, of course not. But it was okay because the last time I went to the Asian grocery store, I bought some packets of rice noodles. They were extremely cheap and I love making fresh rolls with them. The stir-fry turned out good for the most part. I didn’t season the ground turkey enough, but a dash of salt cured the minor blandness. I really like the texture of these noodles. This dish inspired me to cook with these noodles more often! We’ve been going crazy with pasta in my house as of late, as I’m sure many of you are, as well. Lucky me, carbs are my favorite.

middle of the night | awakened response to COVID-19

I haven’t done this in a while. Wake up to complete darkness. Outside is so still. The ol’ heater makes its creaks and the refrigerator hums along. I woke up because the rain drops hitting the windows were forceful. It wanted to be heard like a crying baby. But of course, gentler. And my mind is obedient and starts its gears before I even have a chance to yawn again. My legs move slowly across the soft bed and I try to ease back into slumber, but it doesn’t work. Comfort isn’t enough anymore.

So I mentally start planning my day; thinking about chores that need to get done. Thinking about the regular stressors that occupy my mind. Wondering when and if we’ll see the calmness of this pandemic. I hear it’ll get worse. It breaks my heart seeing and reading about how many people are suffering right now. Their struggles and pain are so deep.

I saw Dr. Andrea Dinardo’s post about Thriving Under Pressure of COVID-19 and she says in a video she shared, “Take this as an opportunity to come together as a resilient community.” I really like that line. She asks, “What has COVID-19 crisis awakened in you?”

And I gave that question some reflection.

I appreciate life and specifically, the countless hours of effort the first responders, medical professionals, scientists, community leaders, activists and journalists who are literally saving lives. They are working hard on finding solutions to the negative impacts from this virus and giving us information we need to stay informed and safe. Now, more than ever, do I want to contribute to the positivity of life through this blog.

I guess I could sum up this paragraph with this: I want to not only shine light on life’s light, I want to help keep that light on.