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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Bringing the Restaurants Home

Food brings people together, wouldn’t you say? It starts conversations, stirs innovation, and even sparks debates amongst who, what, or where is better. It’s a huge part of why many of us go out to restaurants- to eat good food and to socialize (and because sometimes we just don’t feel like cooking). However, I didn’t enjoy a larger variety of food until the last 10 years. I explored with garlic, ginger, basil, brussel sprouts, lamb, beets, and even bitter melon (which someone joked to me once, “The day that you like bitter melon is the day that you are officially old!”) I guess i am officially old!  But these were all foods I hated as a kid. Bitter melon had to be the worst, but it is supposedly one of the healthiest.  My palette sure has changed over the years, but after having eaten out so much, I wanted to start bringing the restaurant foods home!

I’ve fallen in love with cooking. It is tiring after a long day of work, but when I have a plan and I’ve gotten all the recipes, I just want to make the best dish I can. My other half though, doesn’t need much planning. He’s a natural with whatever we have in the fridge!  So recently, we had a few nights where we challenged (and worked with) each other to create dishes we’ve never made before, all completely from scratch.  From a packet of ground meat to avocados mashed up and basil blanched and blended. We were allowed to use a little help from Google images and Pinterest for image ideas, but no recipes (except dessert). We’ve been experimenting with different food combinations, presentations, and making dishes that we would normally love to eat at restaurants. Here were some of the results!

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Appetizer : Blanched asparagus served with a poached egg, topped with bits of bacon and parmigiano reggiano cheese

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FAQ on CNY traditions

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Remember last year’s post on my Chinese New Year celebrations? Reading back on the article this week, I actually thought last year was cold, but this year was a killer. One day, it was 5 degrees with a negative feel!  But it was well worth it.

For the first time since I joined my husband’s lion dance group, I went to almost every lion dance practice and march that he attended. It was really powerful looking at this form of art from a more concentrated lens and understanding the meaning behind every move, every drum beat, and every dance form. I wanted to know the reasoning behind everything – especially how the lion dancers and drummers coordinate. Thinking back 10 years ago, it was just noise for me as it is for most people still, but the beat of the drum has actually become music for me while the lion dance and kung-fu aspects have become an appreciated study. While taking photos and helping out through the parades, I observed, questioned, and enjoyed every moment I could. It was actually nice to hear people questioning me because it motivated me to find out the answers myself and be able to explain them better.  Well, here’s a few of the simple answers for you!

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A Valentine Special

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Are you ready for a special treat?

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It has been a while since Lilspirations had a Featured Spotlight post! (In case you didn’t know, Featured Spotlight is when we shine the light on someone and readers can go behind the scenes to learn about the maker/owner!)  2015 was a good year where I had the incredible opportunity of meeting owners such as Solomon Choi (founder of 16 Handles), Tony Quach (founder of Snowdays), and makers like the talented Andrea Watson and Kristine Brookshire.  This time, I’m super excited to feature someone new to the business and having a really awesome purpose behind her work.  

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