Change.

Change is never an easy thing. When I first moved to the city (coming from a more suburban background), it was hard. The noise didn’t bother me, but the crowds and the small apartment sizes did. I had a huge house and a backyard – plus I didn’t have to walk everywhere! But slowly I began to appreciate the convenience, the incredible amount of diversity, the bright lights, the subway, and the fact that I live in the center where it’s easy for everyone to meet up.

When it came to work, change was still not easy. Five years ago, I was asked to move from first grade to second grade. It didn’t scare me too much as I knew second graders were still a great fun age, but still – learning how to teach again. Then, it turned out what shocked me was how my students surprised me with techniques that I never thought I would be able to teach 7 year olds.  I never expected them to be able to look closely at details, pay attention to the way they hold their pencils/markers/pens, or set themselves with a high expectation that they can draw or write like high school students. It turned out this change was good. After 5 years of second grade and teaching them about New York City birds as part of our social studies curriculum, I’ve grown a love for this age and their love for school and growing abilities.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the beautiful mothers and soon-to-be mothers, this day is for you!  Although in my opinion, mother’s day is everyday, this special Hallmark day does allow us to spoil our moms just a little bit more and get together in any way possible. I’ve found that the older I get, the harder it is to express how much I really love my mom. Now, being married, I am grateful for my mother-in-law as well.  I hope that one day, when I become a mom myself, I would be just as patient, caring, detail-oriented, and loving as they are. Moms are the biggest superheroes out there!

So a huge cheers to you moms because you have the most wonderful, yet hardest job in the world. This one’s for you! xoxo

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Paradise Island

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When I decided to book a trip to the highly anticipated Atlantis in the Bahamas, I didn’t know it was on an actual island called Paradise Island.  All I knew was that we wanted SOME beach time but also marine life and exploration. When you wake up in your hotel and look outside your window, you don’t have to wonder how this place got its name. It really feels like Paradise, except unlike other tropical places, almost the whole place is quite man-made. 

This isn’t a travel blog, but it’s always fun making lists for people to read because we’re a list-reading generation nowadays. “Must Visit Places In Your 20s,” “Top Ten Apps to Use” or “Eight Ways to Lose Your Belly Fat.”  WHAT!  So silly, yet so true. So here is my version: a list of the top 5 things we enjoyed on Paradise Island. Perhaps it’ll persuade you to visit, and if you do, please email me so I can tell you a cool way that you can save tons of money!

#1. Marine Life – Some of my friends look at me funny when we say how excited we are to see the marine life (or any nature for that matter). My husband and I can stare at an animal for hours… and we always win that staring contest. haha!  There’s just something beautiful about marine life, and in particular, dolphins and turtles always capture my heart. Unfortunately I didn’t take great photos of the dolphin but the hawksbill turtle was quite adorable.  The Atlantis aquariums have an incredible amount of marine life – they’re actually the first ones in the world to successfully breed saw sharks.  So if you want to nerd out like we did, go for it. I promise you’ll enjoy the waves.

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#2. Atlantis Aquaventure – If you’ve bought a day pass into Atlantis, it includes admission into the waterpark called Aquaventure. It includes over 8 slides, one ending in a tunnel in the middle of a shark tank. It’s quite a lot of fun and not a lot of wait time when you’re coming from New York, where a wait for a water ride at Splish Splash can be up to an hour! 

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#3. Lots to explore. Okay, so there aren’t crazy amounts of sculptures or architecture to look at, but inside Atlantis you can take great pictures, and outside of Atlantis, you find this hidden gem called the Cloisters. It’s a nice little area, giving you a feel of Europe while making you panic for a few seconds as there are several signs that says “Private Property: Do not trespass.”  But who listens to that anyway?  : )  If reviewers on TripAdvisor say it’s okay, then it’s okay!  Just do it! ::insert Nike check logo::

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#4. The Beach! How can you not get into the famous clear blue waters of the Caribbean? Granted, I don’t quite remember the water being so blue half an hour away in Miami, but I guess this is part of the Caribbean for a good reason! While you’re on the beach tanning or swimming, get a nice coconut drink filled with pina colada from the locals. I got nervous at first but whew, it was tasty.

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#5. Bahamian Food.  If you’re inside Atlantis, you’ll hear tons of complaints about how expensive it is (because if I were paying $96 for a breakfast buffet for two, I’d be crying too). When you step outside, you have all the options of local food that gives you a great taste of the island. I didn’t take too many photos but here were a few of my favorites: 

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Fried Conch Fritters from Bihini Road. Not too much conch inside but just enough, and it was quite filling – extra tasty with lemon and spicy mayo.

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Lobster roll from Lukka Kairi, downtown Nassau. I found this really unique because of the pickled goat peppers, the island’s most spiciest peppers. There were also crispy shallots on top of the chilled lobster salad. 

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Also from Lukka Kairi is the tropical conch salad.  It’s like a ceviche – a bowl filled with tropical fruits, conch, citrus, and crispy plantains. It was extremely refreshing, and that chewiness from the conch – ahhh! 

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I saw this Bahamian chicken souse in a magazine and wanted to try it at a local spot – Viola’s Bar and Grill. It’s basically a chicken broth soup with potatoes and chicken, but the interesting taste comes from those black things called spice balls.  Not many places offered this though.

And so, we conclude our trip to the Bahamas.  Did I miss something that I should return to? Besides the Pig Island and Exuma itself, because I will be back for those islands!  For now, thanks for reading! The stingray and I say “See yuh later, mon!”

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Greetings from Paradise Island, Bahamas!  I’ve been spending a couple of days here in Atlantis just exploring the island and enjoying my long-awaited spring break. Check back this weekend for some photos of my trip! 🙂

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Big Bunny Invasion!

An exhibit or display can really be on anything nowadays. Remember the  unique art exhibit of cans at Brookfield last time in Tribeca? Well this time, there are giant bunnies until next Saturday. GIANT.  H U G E.  MONUMENTAL.

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The bunnies are part of a four-city national tour of Intrude, created by an Australian artist named Amanda Parer who often makes large creatures in different habitats. This time, she made rabbits sewn in white nylon, inflated and lit inside so it’s even more gorgeous at night. This display is actually part of a 1 year anniversary since Brookfield Place opened again after a long time of renovation and closings.  It’s a fun installation to check out with the kids (or just because it brings out that inner kid in you!) 

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Good Food for a Great Cause

Everyone loves good food, but when you know the mission and purpose behind the food, it makes it even better.

This past Saturday, a non-profit organization called The Promise Society held their second annual Bites, Brews, & Wine charity tasting (check out the photos from their first tasting that I attended here.)  It was incredibly successful. While all the guests enjoyed their unlimited samples of great food and drinks, all the money was going towards the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a non profit organization that helps underserved high school students prepare for opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.  Two alumni chefs who are excellent role models of why this program is such a success, came to support the event, and it was surreal to see their stories come true.

Meet Luis Adorno (right), sous chef at KOI Restaurant and Lounge, and Chris (left). Chef Luis is a very young chef that hopes to open up a food truck one day. For this charity tasting, he created this salmon sashimi dish drizzled with truffle and yuzu. It was quite a big hit as that yuzu just brought out the freshness in the salmon!

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Dee’s in Forest Hills, NY

Let me start off with this post by saying the following:  when you have 13 hungry people waiting to eat, your camera does not get the first bite. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll capture some photos with the type of quality that’ll get you whimpering over what apps can save your day.

AH YES!  So let’s get to it!  

To celebrate my little cousin (and by little I mean age, not height anymore. SIGH), my family made a reservation to Dee’s in Forest Hills, Queens.  We had gone there once before for my mom’s birthday and thought it was pretty good. But this time, the quality and experience just shot up even more.

First of all, there aren’t very many great restaurants to choose from when you’re by the Metropolitan Avenue area. Most people who don’t live in Forest Hills would wind up eating around Austin Street, which is right by every transportation you can name – subway, LIRR, taxis, Express buses, and buses. So when we discovered this restaurant, it’s safe to say that it’s pretty darn good. When you walk in, you’ll see workers diligently making and cooking your pizzas in their brick oven. You can see the entire process.  On the left is a sweet beautiful barn sliding door that takes you to a private room, should you reserve it for a special event.  Then the rest of the restaurant is welcoming, warm, and wonderful for gatherings or even a casual date night.

The service is phenomenal. I loved our waitress, who was constantly checking back on us and even helped try to make my so-completely-obvious attempt at getting my cousin a birthday cake and song NOT so obvious. He winded up with this incredible sea salt caramel ice cream cake and loved every bite. The rest of us ended with a homemade almond tiramisu – deliciously moist with a perfect level of sweetness. Again – the beasts in all of us devoured that thing so the camera was left on its own. Sorry, no photos!

But here are some of the many deliciously scrumptious dishes that we ordered.

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Pan Roasted Mussels in white sauce, served with their famous (omg…) focaccia.  Ran out of mussels? Ask for bread because the sauce is savory!

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Color Me Mine (or yours!)

So I popped on Facebook one night and saw that the pottery studio, Color Me Mine, had moved to a close location near my workplace. I decided to check it out with my friend. I had been to the previous location twice, once with one of my best friends and another with my co-workers. It’s a relaxing, almost therapeutic place where you can select a piece of ceramic and paint it yourself. They then glaze it and you take it home after a week!

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Well I chose to paint something that I felt would be useful – a large flower pot – and thought of a very special person in my life as inspiration – mom. But SHHH, don’t tell her. It’s going to be part of a gift for her.  🙂

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What’s next?

G + P + V = C

And that’s the formula I learned today for finding out what you should do with your life.  For the last 2 years, I’ve been asking myself that question. Don’t get me wrong. I am very content with the way my life is.  I’m just curious how far I can push myself and it seemed I had forgotten what I’m good at or passionate about (besides teaching and blogging). I decided to spend a lot of “me” time just reflecting and excelling in something, but there’s never enough time in the day! I can’t wait for summer vacation, where you know I’ll explode with posts about anything and everything!

So back to what I was saying.  There it was.  G + P + V = C … G for gifts (what you’re good at), P for passion (what you care about), V for values (your lifestyle and personality), then you get the result of a career.  It sounds so simple, right? I would say it’s a pretty good starting place to figure out where to move next. But what the heck am I good at?? I enjoy doing almost anything because I just love learning and having hands-on experiences. But specifically, sewing went out the window for 3 months (that attempt at a zipper really got to me, and I’m still digging myself out of that hole…), photography is really just something I enjoy, not a career, and moving to Hong Kong seems a bit more impossible now… Except if Trump becomes president, well… g’day, mates. I’ll be in Australia with my little friend from Featherdale Park.

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If you have a little advice for what I should do in the next year, do shoot some ideas – I would love to hear! I’m down for some new adventures in the next few months. And of course…. the more, the merrier.

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo

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NASA reminded us all today that it owes a great debt to women.

NASA reminded us all today that it owes a great debt to women.

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