Friday, March 28, 2014

Happies & Crappies: March 28, 2014

As part of my effort to start revitalizing and breathing some new life into this little blog of mine, I’m planning to participate in more linkups throughout the coming weeks. Connecting with other bloggers and making new friends has truly been the best part of this experience so far, from way back when I was a bride blogging about my upcoming wedding to today, as I’m continuing to live and love life both here in DC and in my home state of California while visiting family and friends.

Today, I'm joining Stephanie, Amber and some other lovely ladies for their weekly Happies and Crappies linkup, where bloggers can come together to share the highs and lows of the previous week. Check out my happies and crappies below, and feel free to join in the fun yourself! 


1. OK, so this "happy" technically took place last week, but since I didn’t link up then, I’ve decided to mention it here anyway. Stephen and I headed to the Kennedy Center last Thursday night to see Washington National Opera’s production of The Elixir of Love, which we both really enjoyed. Husband and wife duo Ailyn PĂ©rez and Stephen Costello were spectacular, and this was quite possibly my favorite opera I've seen thus far. If you've never been to the opera or don't think you would like it, I definitely recommend giving it a try. The themes and stories are timeless, the music and singing are beautiful, and you just might find yourself being pleasantly swept away as you watch the action unfold! 

2. Speaking of the Kennedy Center, we’ll be heading back there again tonight for One Mic: NSO Pops: Nas with the 20th Anniversary Celebration of ILLMATIC, which I recently won free tickets to! I don’t usually listen to a lot of hip-hop music, but since I enjoyed another similar performance we saw a few weeks ago through the Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage program, I'm excited to check this one out, too! 

3. As if winning tickets to the Kennedy Center Pops show wasn’t already awesome enough, I was also thrilled to win a Kindle Paperwhite and Mac lipstick thanks to a fun blog giveaway hosted in conjunction with Ayesha at The Other Side of Paradise and Faith at Life.Love&Marriage. Woo hoo!


1. Despite the fact that it is now officially spring, we got hit with yet another blast of snow on Tuesday. Luckily, things are starting to warm up again now, and will hopefully continue on that way throughout the rest of the season!

2. Even with all of the progress that has been made in terms of cancer research and treatment options, there are still far too many people of all ages being impacted by this horrible disease, including those who don't have access to affordable insurance or treatment plans, or access to educational resources providing information about the risks and signs to watch out for. 

Of course, every little bit of funding and raising of awareness helps, and I try to support those who are working to make a difference. If you'd like to help, too, and donate on behalf of a good cause, please consider supporting my friend Diana at The World Around Her in her effort to raise $250 for the Philadelphia Race for the Cure. Certainly, making a donation to one of the many other reputable organizations working to fight cancer, or signing up for a walk or fundraising event yourself,  is always a positive thing, too. I know I definitely need to be more active and involved, and I'm grateful to people like Diana for their inspiration. 

Have a safe, fun and healthy weekend, everyone! See you next week!  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Indian Cooking Class: Part Two

After having an awesome time at our first Whole Foods-sponsored Indian cooking class, Stephen and I couldn’t wait to head back for the second session last week, where we learned how to whip up yet another batch of tasty eats!

Just like last time, I’ve listed the names of the dishes below, along with photos and links to online recipes that are similar to those we were given as part of a written packet during the class. Check them out, and if you missed last week’s post, featuring such delicious dishes as sambar, masala dosa and gulab jamum, feel free to give it a read.

Chicken Masala with Vegetable Pulao & Onion Cucumber Raita  

Back before I became a pescetarian, chicken masala was one of my favorite Indian dishes. I’d love to try this recipe at home using shrimp. I'm also excited to try making vegetable pulao rice and yogurt-based onion cucumber raita, which were both good. 

Mango Lassi

If you’ve never tried a mango lassi before, you’ve definitely been missing out. This yogurt and mango smoothie is so flavorful and refreshing, I could drink one every day! 

What’s your favorite Indian dish?  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Indian Cooking Class: Part One

As longtime lovers of Indian food, Stephen and I were thrilled to discover that our local Whole Foods was offering a series of two cooking classes this month featuring popular Indian dishes, including sambar and gulab jamun. When we also found out that all proceeds from the classes would go toward supporting the company’s Whole Planet Foundation, which works to alleviate global poverty, we knew we absolutely had to sign up.

And now, thanks to the awesome instructors who shared flavorful recipes from the country’s southern region, we’re certainly happy we did! In fact, we liked this first class so much that we even headed back a couple nights ago for the second session, which I’ll recap next week.

Do you like Indian food, too? Here’s a quick overview of the dishes we learned to make during the first meeting, along with links to online versions that are similar to the Whole Foods recipes, which we were given as part of a printed packet. 


Sambar is an Indian soup that can be made with lentils and a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots, eggplant and even an okra-like moringa fruit drumstick that I had never before tasted. Served hot and spicy, this dish perfectly complemented the masala dosa described below.

Masala Dosa

Along with our sambar, we also feasted upon Indian crepes filled with a tasty masala made from potatoes, onions, jalapeno and plenty of delectable spices. These were so good that I even ate two of them before the class was over, both topped with the spicy coconut chutney we also learned how to make. 

Gulab Jamun

Saving perhaps the best for last, our meal ended with a taste of sweet and syrupy gulab jamun, a fried dough dessert. I was so excited to taste mine that I completely forgot to take a picture, but if you click on the link above, you’ll see exactly what they look like.

Have you ever taken a cooking class before? What types of cuisine would you love to learn how to make? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's Your Excuse?

When Maria Kang, the infamous "hot Facebook mom," posted her first so-called inspirational "What's Your Excuse?" photo last year, I simply kept my mouth shut in spite of my extreme annoyance. After all, I realize that this woman is simply seeking publicity and hoping to draw a reaction out of everyone. But when she had the nerve to post yet another photo this year, further boasting about the fact that she works eight-plus-hour days, gets little sleep and supposedly has no nanny, I just couldn't keep quiet any longer.

Why? Because it makes me incredibly sad that this woman is still out there bragging about how great she thinks she is, and even sadder that many people actually think she is healthy and a "role model" simply based on the way she looks. I mean, sure, she may look fit on the outside, but who knows what is really going on inside her body, or will over time, due to ongoing stress, limited sleep and so on? As I recently discussed with a friend, size and appearance are not always a direct reflection of one's actual health. 

Furthermore, while it's great that she works out and likes looking the way she does, it's just not realistic or desirable for many others. Although I certainly believe in the importance of exercising and eating healthily, everyone's body is unique, and beauty is not one-size-fits-all. I, for one, would much rather do without damaging my body with constant stress and little sleep than look like her.

Therefore, rather than continuing to judge others primarily based on the way they look, or feeling pressured to try living up to someone else's perhaps unattainable standard, I think we should all instead focus on our own health and fitness, finding what works for us and allows us to feel happy about the way we look and feel. We should also keep in mind that it is indeed entirely possible to be healthy and live a long life without ever looking the way Ms. Kang does.

What do you think about this woman's photos and messaging?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recipe Recap: SELF Magazine's Tofu Coconut Curry

In an effort to add a little more variety to our usual weekly lineup of meals, Stephen and I have been trying to be better about actually experimenting with recipes we've found in magazines and on Pinterest. One of these, SELF's tofu coconut curry, definitely didn't disappoint, proving itself to be flavorful, savory, perfect for the waning days of winter and by far one of the most delicious new recipes I've tried in a long time!

Plus, even if you simply don't like tofu or are not a vegetarian (pescetarian, in my case), I'm sure this tasty red curry dish, complete with carrots, peppers, ginger, garlic, coconut milk and cilantro, could be easily modified to include shrimp, chicken or whatever else you'd prefer to use. 

Our take on SELF's tasty tofu coconut curry. Yum! 
Check out the recipe on SELF's website by following the link above, and stop by next week for my recap of the Indian cooking class we're heading to this evening at our local Whole Foods. I'm super excited and can't wait to learn how to whip up some tasty eats! 

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring Dreaming

After getting hit with yet another winter snowstorm earlier this week, I think it’s fair to say that everyone here in the DC area is counting down the days until spring finally arrives.

Being from Southern California, I have especially never been a fan of Old Man Winter, and I’ve been dreaming for months already about all the fun things the spring and summer seasons will hold for us here in our new neighborhood. From walking to nearby restaurants to going for a run on the various trails and taking a dip in our complex’s pool, I just can’t wait to head back outdoors after months of freezing weather.

Now that we have two outdoor patios – our old apartment had an enclosed sunroom instead – I’m also looking forward to picking out a small bistro set that will allow us to eat, read and relax outside. So far, this cute and inexpensive $50 Tarno set from Ikea has caught my eye as a definite contender. Other possible plans include getting a grill, a birdfeeder and a couple small plants.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?