#335 Plant It Forward Holiday Market
01 December 2017 // San Diego, California
After a gazillion events like this over the weekend, it's safe to say that Christmas mode is totally on and welcome.
#336 Tree Hunting
02 December 2017 // El Cajon, California
Hunting for just the right tree with my baby and our baby. We found it.
#337 Our Good Normal
03 December 2017 // San Diego, California
How do you get back to normal life after a big adventure? That sudden shift back to ordinary used to be a threat to me. Not so much anymore.
After weeks of adventures, travel, hustle, and work, it's pretty nice to jump back into my home base. I arrived on the morning of Giving Tuesday and got to hit the ground running with work and with life at home right away.
But isn't that the dream? To work on something you love until it's time to go home to someone you love. To go on adventures and to return to a home base that's one big adventure itself.
It definitely helps that our "normal" is anything but- it's the sweetest normal I know. We're back to it and I'm loving these days as they come.
#338 Chicken Cordon Bleu
04 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission: I had some real good cordon bleu while I was in Korea. Like, I forgot that the dish existed for a little while and then I had a bit of the one that was served to me and it all came rushing back. I knew I had to give it a go once back at home.
The Results: Pretty good. Here’s the thing you’ve gotta do- spend three minutes toasting your panko crumbs right up front. That way when you end up cooking the real deal, it stays nice and crispy. Also, this is a pretty good use of muenster slices.
#339 Trivia at Newtopia
05 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Taking on Trivia Tuesday with our knowledge of Stieg Larson’s books, Kobe’s draft year, and Weezer’s discography.
#340 Passport Retirement
06 December 2017 // San Diego, California
A happy retirement to this dear friend. Thailand/Malaysia marks the last trip I'll be able to take on my current passport. It's technically got two years left before expiring, but its beat up binding and lack of blank pages put me at risk of not being let in some countries.
It's kind of sad. I've had this passport since 2009, and that's the perfect window for it to tell the story of my most important journeys.
They're all here:
🇮🇹🇦🇷 - My student visas to Argentina and Italy that left me with a lifelong desire to be a global citizen
🇿🇦 - My entry to South Africa that forever changed my perspective on helping others.
🇪🇺🇫🇷🇬🇧🇧🇪 - The first trip I took with Deanna internationally around Europe.
🇩🇴 - Our honeymoon
🇵🇭🇵🇭 - A pair of stamps from the Philippines- from the time I took her to meet my grandma in '14 and my grandma's memorial service last year.
🇹🇿🇹🇭 - My first visits to Plant With Purpose's field programs this year.
Sometimes it seems like the world is in pretty poor shape, but each of these journeys remind me of all the good that's out there in people around the world. It's a good worth fighting for.
There's a miserable stat of more than half of Congress not owning a passport. But that's also a clear area for improvement. If you're gonna change the world, you've gotta make an effort to go and meet the world.
Of course, travel is a privilege. But it's one opportunity I don't think should be squandered by those who have it.
Hopefully my next passport arrives quickly. There are more stories to be lived and big shoes to fill.
#341 Psych the Movie
07 December 2017 // San Diego, California
I’m pretty sure the world became a much darker place the moment after Psych went off the air.
So glad to jump back into this world, even if just for a night.
#342 Karaoke & Kimonos
08 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Thank you Min Son Chon, for being everything that you are.
#349 Culture Care
09 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“An industrial map in the mid-twentieth century colored New York’s Hudson River black. The mapmakers considered a black river a good thing—full of industry! The more factory outputs, the more progress. When that map was made, “nature” was widely seen as a resource to be exploited. Few people considered the consequences of careless disposal of industrial waste. The culture has shifted dramatically over the last fifty years.”
“When I share this story today, most people shudder and ask how anyone could think of a polluted river as good. But today we are doing the same thing with the river of culture. Think of the arts and other cultural enterprises as rivers that water the soil of culture. We are painting this cultural river black—full of industry, dominated by commercial interests, careless of toxic byproducts—and there are still cultural mapmakers who claim that this is a good thing.”
Book No. 47 from 2017
This was a book full of important and valuable ideas for artists and makers.
It wasn’t always the clearest or most straightforward book to understand. I realize it’s a book about art and culture that’s destined to be on the esoteric side, but a little clarity would’ve probably helped me appreciate it even more.
Still, I enjoyed hearing Fujimura’s perspectives on art, culture, creation, environment, and faith and this book gave me the impression that he’d be fascinating to sit down and talk to. He puts caring for culture at a similar level of importance as caring for the environment and physical needs.
#344 Kirstie’s Party
10 December 2017 // San Diego, California
HBD to a real rad coworker, friend, and party-starter.
11 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission: Make some Borek, the Turkish/Mediterranean wonder made up of minced goodies inside of yufka pastry.
The Results: I was pretty happy with this having never made borek before, but there's a few things I would definitely do differently. Working with yufka or phyllo dough is really difficult, which meant some parts were thick and dry while others had burst through. The spiral shape was a tricky one too. All in all, though, I'm pretty glad with how this all came together.
#346 Little Fires Everywhere
12 December 2017 // San Diego, California
"Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way."
Book No. 48 of 2017
Celeste Ng is steadily rising up the list of my favorite authors. This book hits a lot of the same strong points that Everything I Never Told You did, taking a single episode of suburban drama and going down every forking path leading up to and resulting from the incident.
Also like her debut, her characters are so richly drawn, flawed and relatable. Her ability to weave in themes of identity, race, gender, etc. clearly but not heavy handedly is also a rare gift. This was one of my faves from this year.
#347 Salisbury Steak
13 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission: Sometimes my meals are inspired by some exotic locale, other times they're inspired by the 50's Americana advent of the microwave dinner. Salisbury steak was one of the latter.
Results: I had lots of ground beef left over from borek and I still had duck fat to work with for gravy. This dish turned out to be a better fridge cleaner than I thought, and not too bad except for coming out a bit on the salty side.
#348 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese
14 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Mission: It’s slow cooker season, and that means mac and cheese becomes a big deal. Since I didn’t want to get anybody sick, though, I couldn’t really use my hands. This was the first item where I had to use Deanna as a sous chef to do all the things I couldn’t.
Results: The pasta was a bit on the al dente side, but that’s what I like. The trick to get the cheese all creamy could be either Velveeta or cream cheese, but I had neither. Still turned out to be a treat.
#349 I Shall Not Hate
15 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“People should understand that Palestinians don’t live for themselves alone. They live for and support each other. What I do for myself and my children, I also do for my brothers and sisters and their children. My salary is for all of my family. We are a community.”
Book No. 49 of 2017
Izzeldin Abuelaish has an important and incredible voice. The Gaza-based doctor faced one of the biggest episodes of personal tragedies. After losing his wife to illness, a few weeks later he lost three of his children when an Israeli rocket struck their apartment where they had been locked down.
Abuelaish has so much to say about people learning to live in peace. His refusal to hate “the other side” in spite of having every reason to is one that leaves all of us who have lost less without an excuse to not choose better things than hate.
#350 Beignet Does Fiesta Island
16 December 2017 // San Diego, California
This weekend turned into a recovery weekend. I’ve been fighting off some stuff, so instead of all the outing-filled weekend before Christmas I was hoping for, I got the weekend of rewatching Superbad while cleaning every room in the house that I needed.
It still wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t get out of the house for a little bit, so Beignet got the treat of Fiesta Island living up to its name as always.
I love December and all of its irregularities. Most people find it a rush, but I love the way it breaks up routines and unexpectedly opens up pockets of time to humor curiosity.
#351 Christmas Prep
17 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Let's be real, I'll probably still be listening to Chance's Christmas album well into April.
#352 Amigo Secreto
18 December 2017 // San Diego, California
Did I luck out with my Secret Santa or what? Dave not only made this sweet frame out of a repurposed gate, but it's decked out with scraps of an article I wrote and my favorite quotes... you know, like the favorite quotes you put on Facebook in like 2009 and haven't seen in a while? Yeah, he did his homework! (Also, I'm glad the '09 me had a taste in quotes I can still be happy about in 2017.)
He said the frame was a pretty clear choice since I chronicle so much of life through photos. So here's to doing the most meta thing by chronicling the frame in a photo.
#353 Christmas Evenings in OB
19 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“Giving should be joyous, an infectious pleasure at the capacity to bring about change."
From my hood to yours.
#354 Red Curry Martini
20 December 2017 // San Diego, California
The Mission: Make a martini with a nice red curry twist. Making a flavored cocktail that doesn’t seem like a cheap gimmick, that’s true to the flavor it emulates, and that actually tastes good isn’t always an easy task. With an out-there flavor like red curry, it gets even harder.
The Results: Just a dash of curry paste and the infusion of a thai chili were what I really needed to get the right suggestion. I went with a vodka martini over gin because I actually prefer it that way, and orange bitters helped bridge the gap between the regular ingredients and the wild cards.
#355 Your First 1,000 Copies
21 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“The fundamental difference between someone you trust and someone you don’t is your belief in whether or not they are looking out for your best interest above their own.”
Book No. 50 of 2017
If I could do anything differently about my book back when I wrote it, I would have definitely been a lot more strategic about marketing the thing! I’ve learned a lot about marketing since that serves me well for book sales and beyond, but this book would’ve been real helpful two years ago.
Grahl’s book is about selling your own book, but really his marketing tips could apply to marketing just about anything. The central idea is that good marketing is all about being relentlessly helpful, and that’s not just limited to books.
#356 Beige by Beige
22 December 2017 // Bakersfield, California
"We're going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love."
A few days to really, really unwind in Bakersfield with family are actually what I'm loving right now.
#357 The Christmas Adobo
23 December 2017 // Bakersfield, California
The Christmas Adobo.
You can’t really force a tradition to be born, but if this is the birth of a new one, I’m totally cool with that.
#358 Snuggles With the 2015 Christmas Gift
24 December 2017 // Bakersfield, California
This fluff right here is the tiniest thing in the world.
#359 Christmas 17
25 December 2017 // Bakersfield, California
There's a no-man's land where your childhood Christmas traditions have faded and you haven't yet started building the ones your kids will remember. Such are my Christmases these days, but they can still be so good.
On Christmas 2017...
• We finally got to spend the day with spoilt Beignet, who is acutally a Christmas present herself, from 2015
• Deanna won MVP by repurposing some of her late grandma's charms into Christmas ornaments- only tearjerker gift this year
• Star Wars stuff
• Some great convos on the car ride back to SD
• We wound up at a house party in Cerritos with a side of my family that knows how to get down
Who taught ya how to step?
#360 Walking to Listen
26 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“If I could understand my craving, then maybe I wouldn't end up spending my entire life saying good-bye, moving on. I wouldn't have to walk across America, or prove anything, or keep quietly wondering if there was something else I should be doing, somewhere else I should explore, someone else I should be. If I could understand the slippery schemes of the unsettled mind, instead of getting swept up in them, then maybe I could just sit, and that would be enough. After all, to seek something is to assume it's not already here.”
Book No. 51 of 2017
This book had a lot of potential. After all, I take pretty easily to books that feature the author on some sort of geographic quest and the theme of listening is one that seems to be badly needed in 2017. I wondered if this might have the potential to be the second coming of Peter Jenkins’ Walk Across America.
The sort answer is no, not this book. Forsthoefel has a lot of good ideas but the presentation is often a blur of inconclusive internal dialogues, enough quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke and Walt Whitman that I should get credit for reading their books, and a sense of distance from the experience. I would’ve loved a deeper plunge into the experience rather than a cycle of “I-met-these-people, they-said-this.”
#361 Triumph of the Heart
27 December 2017 // San Diego, California
“In my explorations of the nature of forgiveness, I realized that in many ways, forgiveness is the willingness to place more attention on the good than on the bad. It means taking on a view of life and a practice of living it, that enables you to experience more joy and love while also giving more joy and love to others.”
–Megan Feldman Bettencourt
Book No. 52 of 2017
I did it! Last book of the year, and what a great choice to end on. I had never heard of this book and found it at an amazing sale in Malaysia. Gold.
Megan Bettencourt explores forgiveness through a variety of lenses– within marriages, from children to parents, in war zones and inner city schools, through science, and in spiritual practices. She meets with a Rwandan priest who adopted the children of his mother’s killer, a recovering alcoholic who turned into a leader in advice-giving around Phoenix, Israeli and Palestinian girls who learn how to befriend “the other side” at a San Francisco camp, and the father of a shooting victim in San Diego who works with his the family of his son’s killer to prevent gun violence. I remember attending that program as a kid.
This book had such a good blend of rich information, truthful insight, and powerful stories- all presented clearly and sharply. I loved it.
#362 Olive Oil Cake
28 December 2017 // San Diego, California
The Mission: Make an olive oil cake.
The Results: I did it!
This marks the 52nd item I’ve made for my 2017 cooking project and the final one! I’ve tried to challenge myself to cook stuff off a list of things designed to sharpen up some of the culinary skills I thought could use some improvement.
I’ve done this project for the past two years. I’m not planning to continue it in 2018. It’s been a blast, and I’ve definitely gotten a lot better in the kitchen, but it’s also fairly time consuming and one of my goals next year is to cut back on the amount of projects I have and to pour more heart into the ones I keep. Plus, I started this task when I was a grad student tired of mental work all day. It was great having something to do with my hands at the end of the day.
Anyways, I’ll keep cooking. Just not for a challenge. For other people? I’d love to!
#363 52 Books of 2017
29 December 2017 // San Diego, California
I thought I should set a pretty ambitious reading goal in 2017, being done with grad school and finally having time to read for fun. 52 seemed like the right amount, averaging a book a week. I read the final one this week.
I know exactly what I’d be doing if I were you. I’d be pinching and zooming to see everything I read. You could do that, or you could check the #philippereads17 hashtag for the titles and reviews.
I didn’t really want to focus my reading on one particular thing. I wanted to read pretty broadly and diversely. And that meant I read from different genres, cultures, genders, and time periods.
The funny thing is that even though I tried to read broadly, just about all the books seemed to point to a common theme: reconciliation. A memoir of a doctor in Gaza who lost half his family in a bombing, an in-depth look at case studies in forgiveness, and a global chef’s autobiography directly exemplified reconciliation in action.
Books like Hillbilly Elegy, The Righteous Mind, and Braving the Wilderness put it in light of modern times. Silence, The Mothers, and Boxers & Saints showed the horrors of failing to offer forgiveness, even to yourself. The Next Worship, The New Jim Crow, and Collapse demonstrated the need for reconciliation in today’s world, and even the Pope’s apostolic exhortation spoke to daily reconciliation within a family.
All that was unplanned, but when you read 52 books from different times, authors, and styles and they all seem to say the same thing, it’s worth paying attention.
#364 Jihyun in Cali
30 December 2017 // San Diego, California
For 👏🏽 real. 👏🏽 Not 👏🏽 a 👏🏽 drill.
Jihyun is in California.
Also, Taqueria Revolucion is really, really, really good.
#365 Year End Yawn
31 December 2017 // San Diego, California
The end of a year and the beginning of another always makes Beignet so emotional.