Category Archives: inspiration

cookin’ thyme with chef jen

Last month, Chef Jen Story of Cookin’ Thyme personal chef and catering hosted a cooking class for the women from my church where we made we three brunch dishes in our commercial kitchen.

Here’s what we made:


Chef Jen had all the ingredients and kitchen tools laid out and she took time to explain/demo the process before we split up into groups. Yes, there were lots of eggs and butter. On a sidenote, I took a nap after this class. The delectable meal was food coma inducing.

mise_en place

brulee sauceShe put us to work! The ladies were making a brown sugar/butter reduction for the creme brulee French toast (bakes in the oven). OMG, aroma of warm gooey goodness.

sausageHomemade pork sausage making action.

Check out the finished dishes; vegetable and cheese frittata (12 eggs each tray), French toast, and pork sausage (not pictured).



Praying for our meal before the chow down. Man, we were starving! Big thanks and shout out to Cathy who made these crafty center pieces. Showcasing just some of the talents of our lovely ladies.

Chef Jen did an awesome job walking us through the dishes and helping us manage the short time (about 3 hours). She also explained cooking techniques that she picked up in culinary school and her experience in commercial kitchens. Hands down, the creme brulee French toast was my favorite dish I look forward to making. It was soft, sweet, and the bananas Foster w/Grand Marnier elevated the dish (more chef-y). Really melted in my mouth and the frittata resembled a custard texture, so lovely. Perfect complement to the sweetness of the first dish.

I actually was referred to Chef Jen from a friend, Christine of feedmysole who hired her for another event. Chef Jen has her own cooking facility in Lawndale where she hosts events like multi-course meals and cooking classes. Check out her website and facebook page for more details. I loved the experience and highly recommend her! FYI: She was a contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped and the episode airs on April 7th (curious if she took home the 10K prize). Go Chef Jen!

you’ve got mail: a giveaway

As much as I appreciate the convenience of the digital age (and wouldn’t want to go back to a time w/o smart phones), I love receiving handwritten cards/notes and invitations. I just think there’s something personal and thoughtful about it. One of my goals this year is to write more cards/notes to loved ones. Who doesn’t love receiving a birthday card in the mail? There’s something thoughtful and special about it.

Minted offers beautifully designed stationary including baby announcements, personalized stationary, save-the-date cards, art prints, and so much more. I love how their designs are crowd-sourced from independent designers offering one-of-a-kind, hand-lettered look.

baby announce

save the date wedart print quote

biz card

I’ve partnered with Minted to offer one lucky reader a $50 credit to use for any order from their site. To enter, visit Minted and leave a comment telling me on this blog post which item you love best (for your next event, announcement, or just because). Comments must be posted by Saturday, January 24, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

‘Like’ them on facebook for inspiration and hear about upcoming promotions.

*Sorry, this giveaway is limited to readers in the U.S.. Winner will be contacted by email once comments close. Good luck!  


UPDATE: Sharon K. was the winner chosen randomly by the number generator. Thanks for entering and check out their website for inspiration!

lacma: art imitating life

This past spring, my friend and I visited LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for a break from our usual routine. Considering I live down the street, it was a long overdue visit. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Metropolis II (2013) by Chris Burden, an Angeleno of international fame. This large kinetic structure was so intriguing. Being a Sensor (using my MBTI language), I initially observed the materials used like painted Jenga pieces, bathroom/kitchen backsplash tiles, steel beams, mirrors, and toy cars (1,100 in total). I stood in awe of the intricacies, lost in the details.

up close shot


Considering It was only until I was on the viewing platform that I had an aerial perspective of the piece that it dawned on me. I was missing the forest for the trees. This piece is depicting Los Angeles as an urban jungle.

The following week, the depiction provoked more questions than answers. What does it mean that as an Angeleno, I spend a good chunk of time each week riding in my car getting from Point A to B, from B to C, etc? What impact does the noise have? Can I hear myself think and feel to be introspective or am I continually distracted? What does it mean that there are so few and restricted forms of public transportation in the city? Needless to say, it left me introspective and contemplating the built environment’s influence individually and collectively.

aerial shotBut that all thinking and wandering gave us a serious case of the munchies and we wandered over to c+m, the museum’s coffee bar.

lacma c+m shot

lacma carrot cake

To my surprise, their delicious carrot cake went perfectly with their iced coffee (intelligentsia). And with happy stomachs and introspection, we bid adieu to the iconic lamposts until our next visit.

lacma street lamps

a little pep talk

We’re about a quarter way into 2013 and it’s around the time that people start neglecting (or maybe already forgot) their new year’s resolutions. Veering from my traditional foodie posts (check back next week for regularly scheduled programming…) I wanted to share about what’s been inspiring me in last few weeks.

I’ve been reading through the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz’s book, Pour Your Heart Into In, which tells the story of how Starbucks came to be. I typically don’t pick up business-y types of books but I was curious about how this coffee chain giant came to be such a mainstay cultural icon (coining terms like the ‘Third Place’, the latte factor, etc). Did you know that Schultz grew up poor? His parents never graduated from high school and their family lived in the Brooklyn housing projects. The only reason he was able to attend college was through a football scholarship.

A significant influential factor in creating a company like Starbucks that values their employees by offering stock options to all baristas and health insurance to even part-time members (ground breaking at the time; I still think it is) is that he wanted to counter the type of companies that his father worked for that could care less about the concerns of its working class, blue collar workers. I also learned that Schultz is a man of his own convictions and was incredibly persistent in pitching idea of Starbucks 242 times, to be rejected 217 times. Imagine conducting 242 hour-long presentations only to hear “no” (or be ignored) 217 times. The more interesting fact was that the 30 or so investors decided to take the risk not because they believed in his vision for Starbucks but because “they invested in me, not in my idea.” He had a genuine passion and confidence which they believed he would carry out his vision and be wildly successful (I think I read that the 30 investors saw a ten-fold return on their investment once the company went public).

This week, our office hosted a one-day conference for Ph.D students contemplating careers outside of academia (subversive to mention within academia) and I heard from a range of successful panelists who have leveraged their education and expertise to be consultants, entrepreneurs, contributing members of various for profit and nonprofit institutions. Although I’m not a PhD myself, I was so inspired. The keynote speaker hammered home a really key point that many of us are driven by our fears and insecurities that prevent us from taking big risks. Rather, we take baby steps toward our BIG dream which often lead to incremental changes, resulting in mediocrity or giving up altogether.

Mark, another panelist who received in Ph.D in English had a passion for writing and went through the yellow pages cold-calling companies who would be interested in hiring him (this is back in the 90’s, pre-internet days). Mark also talked about pursuing opportunities that scare you because if it’s a really comfortable choice, there isn’t a challenge or opportunity for growth (often leading to mediocrity and boredom).

What brings it full circle is reflecting on a sermon by Pastor Rankin Wilbourne about how we are created in the image of God to exhibit His qualities of envisioning, creating, and breathing life into something new. That’s what we do in our day-to-day lives. It’s in our spiritual and intellectual DNA.

On a personal note, these inspiring stories and words of wisdom have hit home for me as I’ve been contemplating starting my own side business to bring some extra income and establish myself as a consultant/expert while making an impact in people’s lives beyond my 9-to-5 job. It’s been on my mind for about a year and I figure it’s time I take action. It’s scary but also exhilarating at the same time!

What is your pet project or goal that’s been on the back of your minds? Maybe tackling a fear of (fill in the blanks) or launching a (fill in the blank)? Another piece of great advice I kept hearing was to surround yourself with wise mentors to provide guidance and encouragement (but doesn’t mean you always have to take their advice).

long beach half

Long Beach Half: my first half-marathon experience back in 2010. Exhilarating!