According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. However, I plan on having it be the Year of the Rose.
Perhaps this will also serve as a hint as to what my next book cover will look like since I am also working right now on my second AND third books as I type this.
Truth be told, I had a sunflower phase for a long time and actually was a bit anti-rose because I saw roses as the archenemy. I also have had a dahlia phase and actually do find all of these flowers still beautiful.
I think my newfound love for roses might have something to do with me embracing my inner Belle since last year when the film Beauty and the Beast came out. It’s evident by my many posts reviewing books, the one I did on my love for life-like inanimate objects, my fashion choices, and now my obsession with buying bouquets after bouquets of roses the last several weeks.
Also, being a Game of Thrones fan, I had a coincidental incident happen where a fellow GOT fan joked about my house doing well and I asked him what animal or creature my so-called house would be symbolized by. In my head, I thought to myself “House of Roses.” Out of curiosity I decided to look up “roses” on wikipedia when I got home and it led me to a historical reference to The War of Roses, the war within the English royal family between the House of Lancaster (symbolized by a red rose) and Yorks (represented likewise by a white rose). Being an American, I was not knowledgeable of much English history but these civil wars were fought between the two houses over which house were to gain control of the throne, serving as an inspiration for the author of the Game of Thrones books. Hence, the Lancasters would be the Lannisters and the Yorks would be the Starks.
Like the English, I continue to enjoy my tea, sometimes in my rose tea cup topped with a silicone rose lid to keep it from cooling down as quickly. One of my friends who gifted me with tea was thoughtful enough to also gift me with a gorgeous rose tea comprised of whole minature roses to steep.
So as the saying goes, don’t forget to smell the roses in life.
This week I went to go watch the film Wonder on release day and completed the book club read of the month The Best Day Ever (by Kaira Rouda).
I personally don’t mind doing a lot of activities solitarily or with other people as it’s apparent from a lot of my blog postings where I read a lot (but do enjoy discussing the books with the book club ladies) or travel by myself (but also enjoy visiting others or traveling with others sometimes). So while I did ask around to see if anyone wanted to go watch Wonder with me, I did end up enjoying the film on my own as well as the book. And I found these two seemingly very different stories therapeutic.
We all strive to be perfect or want to at least look it, even though we know no one can be [perfect].
With Wonder, it’s very evident that the story is about a boy who has a facial difference he was born with (Treacher Collins Syndrome) but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film actually does go into the back stories of the other characters in his life. And while it is heartbreaking to see him go through what he goes through because of the obvious, the way the film shows perspective of the other characters’ lives it’s a lesson that it’s beyond life that revolves around you—- even when things are hard for you, it doesn’t mean other people have it any easier because we all have things we have to deal with.
In reading the novel The Best Day Ever it was also surprising to know that it was written by a female author but from the perspective of a psychopathic male character. While some of the things this character thought was repulsing, I couldn’t help but be reminded that there are people out there who think these thoughts. And yet, this person thinks that he is “perfect” because he is in denial of his problems.
So may these pieces be a reminder to not be deceived by the facade of things and being able to accept and acknowledge your imperfections.
I admittedly strive to paint this image of fabulousness of myself in sharing things I do in these blog posts. But like everyone else I am vulnerable and feel pain. Even if I appear strong enough to get back up, the pain is still there. While some may perceive that as a sign of weakness, I believe that there is strength in continuously getting back up in spite of the pain and also being able to be kind to others through empathy of understanding or acknowledging other people’s pain/hardships.
Be kind to others and to yourself,
I’ve done a few “Look Like a Princess But Don’t Act Like One” segments now. And this month, I’ve concluded that I would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast if I had to choose a “Disney princess” to be. I admittedly do a good number of my postings on book reviews too. And who doesn’t want a sexy beast?
Click here to read the film review I wrote on Beauty and the Beast in April
I’ve been raving to my friends about my recent purchase of forks and knives after I realized that I was down to just one fork (I only started out with two when I moved into my current apartment to start a new life two and a half years ago). And the one and only fork left had a bent tip. Voila, the fork and knives I got from Paris at Pylones (where I stumbled upon during my Paris trip in 2015):
The knives are male and the forks are female. If you take a closer look they all have faces (and booties when you flip them over on the back!) And the knives have a slight bulge for a package. Gosh, it all made me laugh so much!
As some of you also may recall, from that first visit to Pylones I also fell in love with the 58Products Tassen collection and have their tea set and bowls. I mentioned in my book that I would like to eventually collect all of them! This is a portion of my growing collection:
As you can see from the photo above, I’m also a big fan of having silicone lids for my tea cups. Pylones does usually have a number of choices in stock but I’ve also been fortunate enough to stumble upon on them in other places now too:
Click here to buy the Bumble Bee, the Kitty Cat, or the Bunny Rabbit ones I found!
Eating and tea time should be a joyous time and it certainly has become so for me. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference.
For this month’s book club meeting the ladies honored my book suggestion by reading this novel that was originally gifted to me by another lovely lady and I had been wanting to read it for a while now (when people find out you love to read you become that woman everyone loves to gift books to and you end up with so many that you no longer have to seek new books on your own).
(For the purpose of privacy, I have blurred out the faces of the other book club members)
And to nourish our own souls, we indulged on high tea. Per tradition, the book club documents the books we read every month with a photo of my gloved hands holding up the book we read so I hand modeled in juxtaposition to beautiful tea cups:
(Click here to purchase the gloves I am wearing)
The ladies of the book club are in agreement that the novel illustrates the enduring strength women had to go through in being married into families during the time period (the 1920s and 30s) and making the most of their situation or the hardships and consequence they endured when they chose other paths. It does also explore the concept of “what if” in how different each character’s lives would have turned out to be had the protagonist Leiyin not interfered.
Though the story has tragedy (ie. the novel does start off at the funeral of Leiyin so death is a constant overshadowing presence throughout the whole book) I was pleasantly surprised at how the women treated other women and their children with respect and kindness since mother-in-laws are traditionally very mean to their daughter-in-laws in the Chinese culture and even in modern times (regardless of the culture) stepmothers aren’t always nice to their stepchildren either. And while a majority of the prominent male characters turn out to be horrible, Leiyin’s husband Baizhen was thankfully an exceptional spouse (and student) to her and a father to their daughter. In a way, it all balanced out with the dark sides of the story about all the passion, secrets and betrayal.
The book pokes at the age old question about whether it’s better to lead a peaceful but long, dull life or risk a short-lived life of passion and hardships. Though I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people end up having a mix of both to a certain extent. And while some situations are beyond our control we must all live (or die) with the choices we make.
Overall, the book did end up having a good amount of twists and turns even if you know from the very beginning that the main character is dead. And as I was progressing through the book I did keep wanting to know what happens next. In a way, a lot of the book club ladies agreed that we all still felt that way when we reached the end of the book since there were questions hanging around of what ended up happening to this character or that character or how things were going to ultimately happen (like movie endings when it’s ended before you really get a chance to see what actually happens so you are left to imagine what you think would have happened).
I would give the book a letter grade A-
For the last several weeks, I’ve been trimming down a bit in preparation for a martial arts tournament and promotion exam. One of the things I have started doing is making a tweak to the way I eat fruit for breakfast. I have typically had a small serving of fruit with some mint leaves for breakfast with my oatmeal omelet (as described in my book), but to that I’ve recently been adding/replacing some of it with slices of cucumbers, a drizzle of peanut butter and a sprinkle of chili flakes:
A lot of people forget that cucumbers and tomatoes are actually fruit too but they tend to be treated as vegetables because they’re not as sweet as what is traditionally considered fruit. And the concept of putting on peanut butter is not that new or revolutionary considering the fact that it’s been eaten with slices of apples or celery as a classic snack here in the states. And the concept of sprinkling on chili flakes is not that weird too since fruits like mango are often dried and spiced up as well.
The combination of all of it is beneficial though:
- The addition of chili flakes have the benefit of keeping insulin levels low following the meal (aka you’ll feel less hungry).
- As mentioned, cucumbers have less sugar than the other fruit I’ve been having them with (ie. the photographed examples above from left to right are: mangoes, strawberries, and apples). So instead of completely eliminating these other fruits (which also have their own health benefits) I’m simply replacing some of it with cucumber slices.
- Peanut butter adds some healthy fat and protein which will also help you feel fuller.
- There is also a health benefit to my choice of consuming fruit with mint leaves in that mint leaves promotes digestion and also stimulates a digestive enzyme that helps absorb nutrients from food and converts fat into usable energy (as opposed to having it be stored in your body)
While I love having mint leaves with my fruit (to the point where I often think it ends up being more of a mint leaf salad with fruit in it), I’m also going to be looking into getting some basil leaves in the near future too since they have been coming back to the farmers market with the return of the warmer season.
As a form of size/quantity reference, one of the red mini ramekins I used in the photographs above contain approximately 1.5 large strawberries (or 2 small strawberries) chopped + 4 or 5 slices of cucumbers. So it’s really not a lot. And I do more or less the same amount of fruit + mint leaves combination for having with my non-fat Greek yogurt (with a sprinkle of cinnamon, chia seeds, and nuts) at night as my last meal of the day.
So here’s to a colorful diet and everything in moderation,
In honor of St. Patricks Day, I decided to play around with some matcha powder and put them in chocolate chip cookies. The aftermath:
If you have a favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe, I would just simply add the matcha powder in there, though I would use all white sugar instead of brown sugar to keep the vibrancy of the green color.
Trader Joe’s did start selling match powder recently. I emptied 4 packs into my batter of a 1 egg recipe batch. At Trader Joe’s you do have the option of purchasing chocolate chunks instead of chips but the chips would work better for the same reason I mentioned with using white sugar (to have the green color of the batter stand out instead of having a whole bunch of micro-sized chocolate crumbs blending in).
So to sum, here’s the gist of what I did:
- About 1 1/2 c flour blend (coconut flour, almond flour, regular flour)
- 8 oz blend of butter and cream cheese
- About 3/4 c sugar
- Drizzle of almond extract
- About 1/2 bag of chocolate chips (6oz.)
- About 1 tsp of baking powder
- 1 egg
- 4 packets (approximately 6 grams) of match powder
Cream the butter/cream cheese mixture with the sugar, matcha powder and almond extract. Add in the egg and chocolate chips to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate overnight before forming into balls and baking on a sheet for approximately 8~9 minutes in a preheated oven (350 degrees F).
Wishing you all a festive St. Patricks Day,
Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s all about chocolate. I recently came across a cheesecake brownie recipe and decided to combine the brownie element with my ever-popular banana bread element and my a take on a classic hostess chocolate cupcake-looking treat. The aftermath:
~Recipe~ (yields about 2 dozen cupcakes)
For the brownie batter:
- 1 c butter, softened
- 1 c brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 c chocolate chips, melted
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 1 tsp salt + sprinkles of cinnamon + cardamon
- 1/2 c flour blend of almond flour, coconut flour and regular flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the cheesecake batter mixture:
- 1 block (8oz) cream cheese
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract or cream cheese extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F)
Mix all of the wet ingredients for the brownie batter together first (though I would mix in the eggs last to prevent the eggs from getting cooked from the heat of the melted chocolate). Add in the dry ingredients to form the brownie batter. Fill each cupcake paper about halfway full with the brownie batter.
Blend all of the ingredients for the cheesecake batter and top each brownie batter-filled cup with a bit of the cheesecake batter.
Bake for about 11 minutes or until done (but not overly done) and let it cool in the oven
Et voila! Bon appétit~