Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Memories in the making...

I must start this post with an apology, even though I have yet to type up my thoughts I know they are all tinged with personal stories and intimate victories, so unless you are a mother or a deeply empathetic person you might find it hard to relate to it... but I must express nonetheless.

Today's morning started in a recovery mode from the cascading effect of the night before... to summarize, there were a series of articles linked with each other and I kept hopping from one to the next which ended up in a late night resulting in a morning alarm that was snoozed too many times. I was running late and trying to cover up ground when after breakfast my little one came around in her new 'marvel' T-shirt asking if I can make french braids today. It was a split second decision, do I disappoint my daughter or get ready to suffer the wrath of my manager... I decided to take a chance braided my daughters hair. While combing her hair I realized that she has gotten so tall that I had to ask her to sit down so I can braid her hair properly, where has the time flown, when did she become so tall. These years are passing in a flash and I was thankful that I followed my gut and decided to braid her hair, sounds like a small and insignificant decision but these are the moments that form the memories that we look back on.

Another special moment of the day came when my teenager came to me and said "Mom, I need your advice. I think you can help since you never give up on anything." Now if you have a tween or a teenager you might know how hard it is for them to ask for help let alone admit that you as a parent might actually know something. All I can say is that it was a 'Total victory moment'.

Side Story: I have been going through some rough time in my career and in last couple months needed to make a decision, do I stay in the game, fight and push forward or do I retreat back to my comfort zone. I decided to throw a challenge at my brain to help me make a decision. I had to come up with one word that would define me once I leave... it was a conversation between my brain and I and the word that was unanimously decided among them was 'RESILIENT'. I am resilient and after I leave I'd want to be known for the one who got up every single time and not the one who never failed. Decision made, I stay and fight and prove it to myself that I'm not afraid of falling... 

Fast forward to today, unaware of any of my struggles when I daughter saw me as a person who never gives up, it was the biggest validation I could ever imagine to get. And what they say about parents should lead with example, well I did it! at least this one time.

I guess two victories for the second day of memory keeping is pretty good odds. Upward and onward...

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Is blogging making a comeback?

In the past few months, I have seen some of my old blogging friends have started making small appearances via occasional posts on their sites and it is so heartening so see memories documented and deep thoughts shared again through this medium.
Social media these has become a whole lot about pretty pictures and less about the emotions behind them and its hard to know through a 'like' or 'heart' button if they just like your pictures or they got the emotion you were trying to convey.

Anyways, the reason I started to type my thoughts today was that its the first day of the #HundredDayProject and I have been thinking hard and deep about the things that I'd like to bring my focus back to in the next hundred days and there were quite a few things in my life at the moment that I can bring my attention to, there is a paper I'm working on and I can focus on its research; there is a certification that I'm trying to attain and I can focus on the study plan; I'm missing my fitness goals and I can bring them into the fore... the list goes on... But as with all social projects to be accountable they must be tangible enough to share and interesting enough for your fellow travelers to care about your journey.

After mulling over various details and complexity of the schedule that I foresee in the next few months I've decided that I'll focus on #100daysOfMemoryKeeping
Ever since I moved to California more than two years ago, half of my scrapbooking supplies are still packed in boxes and I'd like to change that and I'd like to document more about life in general.
I plan to make 100 memory pages/projects in the next hundred days and even though I won't be able to make one page per day I'd like to commit to devoting 15 minutes of memory keeping activity each day. Some of the things I plan to do are
  1. Sort, edit and print pictures. 
  2. Sort and categories scrapbooking supplies.
  3. Print enlargements and frame pictures
  4. Blog about previous and upcoming trips and share pictures
  5. Make digital pages/books
  6. Document my progress on the blog
With those intentions and a picture of one of my dad's paintings... lets begin this 100 day journey!
Please leave a comment if you are pursuing a 100 day project so I can come check out your progress and encourage you on the way. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

Word of the year 2018 - Active...

It was incredible to usher in the new year 2018 on a Monday... the last weekend of the year was slow and contemplative and I am so thankful for it.
As I looked back on the year 2017 and my word (phrase) - 'show up' for the year, my biggest take away is the persistence to keep following the plan despite the results. 2017 for me was not a year of results, it was about burning the midnight oil and keep plugging away even when nothing seems to be moving on the surface.

Another very important lesson was setting priorities... you'll achieve only what you make time for and even though I don't have sprouts to show for the hard work, I know in my conviction the seeds that have been sown.

After last few years of forging (2015), surrendering (2016) to the path that's in front of me and showing up (2017), it is time to take charge again and the word that I have chosen to set that intention is 'Active'... My commitment to staying active is for my body and for my mind.

For my body, I would like to eliminate extracted sugar from my diet and limit the consumption of high glycemic index foods to special occasions only. Also, a minimum of 10 minutes of activity each day and ideally a 30 minute work out. The goal is to cut out the crap and to move more...

For my mind, I would like to carve out time for contemplation and be more deliberate in my thinking for day to day tasks and yet, be more strategic towards long term career goals. Staying on top of current research in the field and carving out a detailed action plan would help keep my mind active and my knowledge relevant.

I'd write a more detailed post to wrap up 2017 but today being the first day of 2018, I wanted to usher in this new milestone in time with hope and a plan for the future...

'Wish you a happy 2018'  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bacon and Butter

Sharing another foodie escapade story, this time I went on the adventure with my husband. "Bacon and Butter" the name doesn't sound appetizing and was not on my list of restaurant to visit even though I see it often on my drive around town. My husband had heard good things about it and we were looking to try something different so we decided to stop by.
The d├ęcor was clean and industrial but not overtly so and even though it has the diner vibe to it, there is a very different energy in this place. There is a parking lot next to it and the wait wasn't too long.
The menu was single paged and from the dishes offered you could tell it was very seasonal.
DH ordered Billy Club, chicken breast, jalapeno aioli, bacon, avocado, lettuce and mozzarella cheese along with fries, which was finger link potatoes sliced in half and cooked in fresh butter. I try to avoid white bread but after a bite of that sandwich and potato fries, I was ready to order a second lunch. There is something absolutely heavenly about butter and all things cooked in butter.
I ordered a very healthy seasonal greens salad with fresh sliced and grilled asparagus. It was served with poached egg and grilled cheese (possibly burrata cheese coated with parmesan). It was so fresh and delicious that I was convinced that it can not be as healthy as the other salads I have been eating all these while.
Needless to say, we were impressed by the freshness of ingredients and the unique preparations. We started talking to our server and was blown away. He was passionate about the food he served us, he knew the farms where our food grew, their locations and their owners. The way he conveyed all that information, you could tell its not a marketing tactic, he totally has bought into the farm to fork movement and takes great pride in it.
The last wind that blew us over the top was that the check was brought in an old book. What a wonderful reuse of these old books and best thing, you could totally browse the book while you wait for your server to process your check.
When I went in the restaurant, the name 'bacon and butter' conjured up an image in my mind and as I was leaving it, that image was completely changed. Such a great experience, wonderful fresh food and people who believe in sourcing and cooking from the best local ingredients.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Let it be...

Its been almost two years since we moved to California and as I look back at all the decisions that brought me to this juncture in life, I struggle with the direction of a few of those decisions...
All those what ifs in life, all those moments that seem so huge retrospectively but I had hardly paid attention to those moments and the over arching effects they will have on my life.

I think it would be unfair to say that I don't regret any of the decisions and yet I wouldn't have gotten here without those decisions. Life's precious moments seem to be constantly straddling this dilemma, hurting, analyzing and acknowledging the series of decisions that brought me here.

It seems this isn't an isolated phenomenon, others suffer from it as well and during a discussion on this topic with a friend, she introduced me to a new way of thinking about the things in life. She mentioned that often people say you have to 'Let it go' to come to terms with any loss but that's not true. If its hurting you can't let it go, you need to let it be.

One needs to acknowledge the loss, the pain and frustration that is hurting us. We need to look back and review those moments when we picked a path on the fork of life and closed the door on everything that was possible on the other path, acknowledge the fact that you can never go back to the dilemma again, the hurt that's lingering would likely stay there for a long time to come. One possibly needs to go through negative emotions to acknowledge it and express the anger and frustration through bad words and physical retaliation but don't feel guilty about your behavior.
Guide books often guide you to feel zen and above the situation in order to achieve peace but to achieve the calm, your heart needs to agree, you can't just impose the logic of the brain and pretend like things aren't bothering you anymore. If you'd want your heart to come along, you do need to go through the pain, acknowledge its presence and 'Let it be'.

My mom quoted something from an article the other day, "if you want to understand life look to your past but if you want to build a life you need to look forward". I realized that every single moment I'm making a decision and I'm not even sure which one these moments with turn into those life changing events that I'll look back on and ponder over. I can only try and detach the emotions that I am acknowledging as a consequence of a previous decision, from the decision that I'll be making next.

Friday, August 25, 2017

My first time trying El Salvadorian cuisine...

Birds of a feather...
I'm so fortunate to be able to connect with my foodie co-workers, so here's sharing another food adventure story. I call myself an adventurous eater and have tried quite a variety of cuisine but every so often, I come across that I never knew existed and I'm humbled. I guess, I don't know what I don't know until I know about it...

One of my south American friend asked me if I'd be interested in trying El Salvadorian food. We had been working out on the field all morning so a sandwich and iced coffee in the shade of a tree would have been good but actual real food in an air-conditioned restaurant seemed like heaven and could not be refused.
Platano's grill was off interstate I-5 along the frontage road in Lathrop in San Joaquin Valley. I'm pretty sure, I'd not have picked this place on my own but now that I know about it, I'll take my family there.  
These in the picture above are Pastelitos our appetizer. It has a pastry dough shell, filled with chicken and veggies and is deep fried. Really yummy and even though I've had the combination of these ingredients, the flavor was very distinct. I'd recommend sharing as the amount of oil that was soaked in the shell was very evident.

This is what our main course looked like as we started to dig into our food. The small round stuffed bread are called Pupusa. It is flour dough bread cooked on a skillet and comes filled with a variety of flavors. We ordered Chicken and cheese, cheese and vegetable, cheese and beans and cheese and loroco (edible flower from Mexico). They were all extremely fresh and wonderful. I have tried pupusa before (not knowing that its el Salvadorian food) with corn flour dough and I liked those better for the nutty corn flavor but these were so fresh off the skillet that I didn't even remember the other kind till much later.
The black rice dish is Casamiento which is black bean and rice dish and is close to flavor as the rice and (red) beans but the black beans were much firmer and held their distinct taste.
One the on right is Platano (Plantain) served with sour table cream. The plantains were caramelized without any additional flavor and I really liked that. Usual flavoring of cinnamon and sugar makes it too artificial in taste, this was subtle flavor and went very well with the table sour cream.

The cabbage dish is called curtido, to me if felt like a cross between coleslaw and kimchi. Cabbage, carrots and onions are marinated in some vinegar based dressing and has a strong flavor of oregano but the veggies are still crisp and fresh. They served us a jar of it and we promptly gulped it down... one must eat their veggies, right?

We loved their salsa as well. It has robust roasted pepper flavor and was very spicy.
All in all, a wonderful food experience and even though it is a little out of the way from Sacramento, it would be a good family stop as you are heading into or out of town for vacation.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

SMART Rail Service...

SMART- Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit service starts tomorrow between San Rafael and Santa Rosa in Northern California. It is an exciting moment for all working in the transportation industry.
The first day of revenue service begins on Friday 25th August although if you are from the area you are probably already used to seeing the train running through its various test phases.
 The first day of service is free for everyone to try and I'd highly recommend it. They are Clipper card only system so for anyone coming up from Bay area, it would be a breeze but for people new to this cashless ticketing system it would be a bit of learning curve.
 I really like that their platforms are high and afford on level boarding rather than climbing into the coach car. Designers often think of level boarding as an accessibility issue for those who use wheel chair but I think it is good for all travelers specially moms, kids, elderly, people carrying luggage... so many reason to provide good accessibility.
 After the first free day on Friday, the service is discounted 50% till the labor day weekend. So, if Friday is a working day for you and you can't make it up there, hit it over the weekend for all the wineries and breweries that scattered throughout the rail route.
 The interior is very comfortable and equipped with a snack bar.
 The views are breath taking and there are walking/biking trails along the train route that would be good for exploring the area.
 Please keep your dogs on leashes and collect your trash after you. Its a beautiful setting and it would be a shame if humans with their negligence ruined it for the flora and fauna and of course all the future humans as well.
All these pictures are straight out of my camera phone, I didn't have the time to edit them and also share this post by the time SMART starts its service so timely sharing won over perfect pictures.
 Hope you have a pleasant ride and next time you'd consider transit (train/bus) over highways for your family vacation.