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!

Stir fried udon noodles
Broccoli, fried tofu, shrimp fish balls, udon noodles and bok choy

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.

lemon and orange 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!

miles davis – so what | music monday

Hello friends. Let go of the busyness of today. Shrug off the heavy heart and listen to some good music for a few minutes with me.

It’s been years since I first heard Miles Davis play. I was in a music store (yeah, those used to exist) and his CD was right in front of me. It was a time in my life in which I was open and up for anything. I wanted to hear something different. On a whim, I decided to buy his CD called Kind of Blue. I loved it. I haven’t heard the album in so long.

Tonight, I decided to play his song So What. Like magic, nostalgia is never too far away and appears from out of nowhere.

I hope you enjoy this song.

no takeout for 30 days – notes & tips

My family and I have not eaten takeout for about a month now for any meals. It was purely by accident. This realization came about when I was out grocery shopping for turkey burger ingredients that I’m going to make today (ahhh, so excited to figure out the seasonings and assembling the final product with melted American cheese, a slice of tomato, lettuce and a homemade sauce). In the past, takeout would be more frequent within the month. I’d just drive over to the nearest fast food place, place an order and pay. Wait. Drive home. Avoid crazy drivers (can you hear the annoyance in my voice haha) Eat it–knowing I’m poorer for it and not knowing how the burger was made. If I felt motivated, I’d make my own, but it wasn’t, sadly, my first instinct to do so. It just felt too much of a hassle. And weirdly, now it feels the opposite: it’s a hassle to get takeout.

Cooking has become a bit therapeutic for me. I really enjoy it. My favorite is cutting the veggies and sauteing them in the pan. In the past, I’ve posted a lot of my home cookin’ here. This renewed love for it has overflowed into my daily life and now my family and I can enjoy the delicious creations.

Here are some of my favorites from past posts:

After coming to this realization, I wanted to share a few notes and tips I had in case it’s something you want to try out, too.

The Benefits

  • I feel like my diet is more in my control. I’m not on a specific diet per se, but more in that I am aware of the amount of veggies I’m eating and my serving size. It’s not decided for me as it would be if I were to order out. Was anyone else shocked when you learned how many more calories were in a fast food salad as opposed to french fries? What?!?
  • I’m saving loads of money. Well, not loads, but a lot based on calculating the amount of what it would cost for each meal. I never eat out for each meal, but you know what I mean. For example, if I were to make mac & cheese, the cost of the ingredients alone would be a fraction of a price of a bowl of it at a restaurant. And homemade would be for a family size, not just a cup.
  • The act of making something for myself and others and having it be enjoyed is so gratifying. It’s instant, too. Now I understand my mom’s love for cooking more. She’d always want me to get seconds or to bring some leftovers with me when I left. It’s a form of creation and love.
  • Cooking at home is another way for me to exercise my creativity. I love finding recipe gems I’ve used over and over, but also modify each time. Maybe this needed more onion powder or less soy sauce next time. Maybe next time I’ll use shrimp instead of beef.
  • It seems to put everyone in a good mood. Good food is important for our health in all aspects of our lives, including emotional and mental. And homemade just always tastes better to me. It’s nourishing.


  • Start with super easy recipes and start small. The first step is to develop confidence in the cooking process itself and feel comfortable with what you have.
  • And you don’t need to be fancy for every meal. You have a loaf of bread, eggs and cheese? That’s a breakfast or lunch. So is just plain cereal. You have some frozen spinach, onions and rice. That could be a meal, too.
  • Frozen food is a good one, too. We’re currently working on eating up frozen pizzas we bought, which we will unlikely buy again since it just doesn’t taste good.
  • I’m not sure if this is true for everyone else, but the more food I made, the more I was inclined to continue. I went from basic easy recipes to more elaborate and time-consuming. A genuine passion develops and the food starts to taste a lot better with all the practice. And my motivation to seek out new recipes.
  • Plan a few days in advance about which dishes you want to make and then go to the grocery store. The more supplies you have ready at home, the likelihood you’ll want to use it (at least this is the case for me and needing to be budget conscious). The more you do this, the more you realize which food items are your staples and which are just special once in a while items.
  • Always have the right basic tools ready. It’s annoying to be in the middle of cooking only to find out you are missing that 1/3 measuring cup or a mixing bowl big enough for the mixture.
  • Experiment with the different spices and seasonings that are available. There are so many amazing flavorings out there that are available to us. I’m still learning this myself. Spices are expensive, so I want to make sure I actually use them. Some basics I always have on hand and replenish are: onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I feel like I’m forgetting something, but this is the gist.

I hope this was helpful. I hope I continue on this streak. It makes me genuinely proud and happy. And I am so grateful to find peace and joy in cooking.

My cooking/baking goals at the moment (but I’m in no rush):

  • Bread loaf
  • Ice-cream
  • Thai yellow curry from scratch
  • Chili
  • A delicious pie

december 2019

The last month of this year. The last year and month of the year 20-teen decade. I didn’t want to miss you. I wanted to make sure I said hello before you drift on by and 2020 comes swinging around and you’re long gone.

I know I have all month to do it, but why not on the first day?

December’s always been an important month. It’s the last time and opportunity you get to figure out and do all the things you ever wanted to do in the current year. A nice farewell to a long 12 months is just as appropriate as welcoming the first month of the year ahead.

And it will fly by. As we celebrate the holidays, birthdays that share the same days, school vacation and time off from work, please take some time to thank this year. We’ve all grown.

I’ll start.

Thank you, 2019, for letting me heal and recover from a crazy 2018. Thank you for all the moments I felt happy with my family and friends. The laughter that hurt my insides and had me in tears. The beautiful landscapes, live performances, and recipes I felt inspired by. The strong individuals who are so passionate and wise; opens the minds of all those around them. I am grateful for all the questions that came to me this year and challenged me to go beyond my boundaries to answer them. Thank you for the warmth, patience and reflection I needed to connect with the deep gratitude that lead me back to love and happiness.

I look forward to spending time with you. I hope we get to end this year well together. Let’s make that delicious looking coffee cake; a recipe I’ve been eyeing for these last couple of days. Or create more poetry. And organize this house a little so 2020 doesn’t feel out of place when it arrives.

love for maggie rogers

Maggie Rogers is a phenomenal performer, singer and songwriter. Her passion for music and her live performances give me life. It’s a renewal. She woke me up from the slumber of the droning hum of what I used to consider current music. She has changed what I identify as music, its culture and a new definition of love for it. I think we all feel it. That change of sound, the openness of originality and creativity; not just from her, but from a couple of contemporary artists today. I truly feel grateful.

As I wrestle with my current writer’s block on my other posts, I thought to share my love for Maggie’s music and why. She’s infectious. She takes the energy she feels and illuminates it; pours it out of her being. You can see and feel the warmth when her music is being played. I feel like she got it. This genius honesty and gratitude. She’s not in-between or waiting. She’s here and she’s ready and she’s got it. Here’s her performance from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She doesn’t make life seem exciting. She is life.

Oh and forgot to share this video, as well. I love this video so much. I’m a sucker for those one-shot productions. Their impressive and raw.


I have so many things I want to say. This is now the third draft I’ve written. And they were about different topics. I wonder if this one will actually get published. It occurred to me the other morning how difficult writing can be. That solid thought hasn’t actually presented itself to me like that before and so I started wondering if I could actually write at all? Like, the way I want to write and for others to understand what I’m saying. What I’m actually trying to say. I know that the words I write mean different things to different people. And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes meaning can bypass the definitions and just exist as how we all see it. Maybe?

This morning feels a bit confused. I have things I want to express, but just don’t know how to. I learned many years ago to just follow my body. So, I guess to start, I want to write. I like writing. As I tried to settle into my morning, I heard a repeated song in my head. I knew it was a Jason Mraz song, but could not really hear the words. I could hum it to you though. Oh, I’m good at that humming.

I finally found it on YouTube and it’s called Unfold.

And I just jammed to it and a lot of other songs as I sank deeper into the rabbit hole of going on YouTube does to oneself. I’m totally not complaining though. If this is what my body wanted, then so be it! I welcome it. There are so many times that I look back in my life where I resisted my own self. Like, I would push through stress, anxiety, sadness and I just don’t think it’s okay to do that. It’s important to hear ourselves and give ourselves what we need and want. Like, what we really need and want; not the superficial stuff we’re trained to care about. I don’t think this was necessarily what I wanted to say or express, but I guess this isn’t so bad either.



it’s been a very loving and happy couple of weeks. i think a few things have played a role. for one, i’ve been getting myself into a routine and it’s amazing. it’s gotten me to do the things i need to do, but also make time for things that i don’t usually have time for. it’s given me clarity on my life overall, honestly. who knew all those school days from being a student taught me the importance of routine and tradition.

another delicious reason is that i’ve been cooking a lot lately. i’ve made about a dozen (or more) of different dishes or iterations of the veggies, grains and meats i’ve had on hand and it’s given me so much comfort (in my heart and in my stomach). i used to document a lot of my food cooking adventures, but lately, i’ve just kind of enjoyed this quiet cooking existence. to do something just for fun, for joy and for spontaneity. i would like to still write more cooking posts in the future, but for now, it’s been nice to not pressure myself to take photographs & stage the shots while cooking.

thirdly, i think just being able to be grateful, every day. seeing the beauty in the little and big things that come our way and letting go of the things that make us unhappy. it’s been worth it to me to guide myself into a different way of thinking and looking at life through different perspectives.

i hope this continues. and i hope you all are also happy and taking in the peace and calm (despite the busy holiday season that is upon us)!

morning gratitude

However you came upon my blog, I want to thank you for reading my words. Thank you to the new followers and visitors. It’s always a happy feeling to see that the things I create matter in some way because within this space, I try to create with my heart first. And I appreciate that we can connect in that way.

Another cold morning. I rose today on my own. No cars passing by or alarm to ring in my ears. My body slept well and with deep sleep, I have the motivation and energy to welcome the morning. Hello morning. I am possibly going to have another fairly busy day, but I want to remind myself to take deep breathes. Take in the moment at hand and really value it. Our minds are so good at thinking. It’s their job to do so, but sometimes, if we don’t take care of them and let them relax, they can constantly run through a million thoughts.

I’m going to try to balance the ins and outs of my being and energy today. Sleep well another night and be kind to myself today.

connect through food

We drove a while until we saw on the GPS that our destination was around the corner. I was hungry. It was his idea to go further by the coast and climb mountains to get a better view before though. Loved the time with nature, but was also starved and depleted. Decorated like a home, this restaurant had succulents along the path of the entrance. You can tell it was a family restaurant, with the father who led us to a table. I could see the window and walls carrying little pieces of their history, aged by the frequent sunlight that shined through. A man sitting at the table diagonal from us had ordered something I’m unfamiliar with. He silently ate bit by bit as he looked up every so often. He seemed to quite liked it as his plate was completely clean before he left. I searched through the menu; sticky on some pages. And then I knew what I wanted. The son took our order. Moments after the food arrived, my stomach was full and my heart was happy. There’s something undeniably beautiful about the human connection that needs no introduction. Just a passionate cook, a hungry patron and a dish holding years of family tradition, a touch of love and plate full of deliciousness.


The first image of him was actually a background one. One in which he stood as a stand in character or an extra on a television set. I didn’t think much about it. Like all the other strangers that have passed by before me, why would he be different?

We started to see each other more. Accidentally. In hallways. Through campus. We found out we had mutual friends. And like that. It was too easy.

The pieces started to come together so nicely. We talked. We took the same classes. They were big, so it made sense I had never seen him. Or maybe I did, but in the background. And then I couldn’t un-see him anymore. Never again.

We never defined ourselves. So we never really knew what we meant to each other. The kind of way one would describe with labels or titles. But I can describe how he made me feel. How it made me feel.

It was pure. It was sweet. It was new. It was exciting. So exciting. My heart was overwhelmed and happy. It felt full and refreshed; a different energy was pulsing through me and it felt so natural and good.

burger heaven

Just before heading back into the kitchen, I smelled the delectable scent of the sesame seed, soy sauce, garlic, green onion turkey burgers just about ready on the stove. Popped some sesame hamburger buns in the oven for a quick warm up. I like bread when it’s a little crispy on the edges and soft in the center. After a few minutes, the warm bread aroma took center stage. Lovely.

He asked if I wanted mayonnaise, I said no. Ketchup? Nope. The lettuce and tomato suggestions were a negative as well. Without anything added at all, it was amazingly delicious. Like, really good. I had a moment after eating if I should take a photograph, but decided not to. It doesn’t look any different than any other burger really and it seemed better to describe it anyway. This is a moment when a photograph doesn’t say a thousand words. But my taste buds do.

the songbird

tree shadow

this morning I woke up
with a little songbird
singing the sweetest melodies
perched outside on a tree branch
he sang about his hopes and dreams;
a peace on earth
calms all our wildest hearts
and unforgiving souls.
observer of nature,
he knows no boundaries
of what is impossible.