Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

08 May '18  — in the name of beauty

There are many ways to look better but I’ve never found anything as effective as sleep.

Perhaps the beauty industry isn’t about beauty. Makeup gives people a reason to play with colors and choose different shades. It’s fun to learn a technical skill, applying colors and shading, particularly if it results in looking good. There are people who go for cryotherapy. It seems more of an adventure than a spa treatment. And all those creams? They smell interesting, feel like there’s some magic working…there’s a lot that happens in beautification that doesn’t involve looking good.

I’ve been sleeping poorly so my skin started breaking out. After talking to my husband and getting out of my head, I was able to relax. Heart pounding, nighttime anxiety was keeping me awake, however, it finally wasn’t around last night.

My skin completely cleared up this morning.

It’s neat to see how beauty can get people pumped. ‘Make this concoction and it’ll make your hair look shinier.’ Making concoctions already sounds interesting but it seems even more interesting when beauty is involved.

If people were really interested in beauty, I’d assume they’d simply try to get more sleep.


05 May '18  — anxiety attack

summit now how do I get down?

There were boulders leading to a rock wall over 600 feet. A small trail led in and out and all around crumbling boulders.

My husband and I were looking for the trailhead. We crossed the railroad tracks as instructed in the information found online. However, the instructions were vague. Follow the road right… there was a trail that led right. Was this the road or was the railroad the road?

My husband led us to the trail on the right. I could see his excitement–the place was an adult playground. The first obstacle was to drop from a large boulder. We had to climb down and walk between two larger boulders to continue.

I was reluctant because anywhere in nature where there’s a cavelike dwelling–it’s a great place to shit. In pictures, these places look amazing but in real life, they’re moist and you never know what’s been lurking down there.

After we climbed out, there were metal bars on the rock surface. You had to climb up several feet to continue. I was not prepared for this amount of balancing.

‘Just getting to the trailhead takes this much work? I bet we’re on the wrong track.’

I trembled, I was scared being much higher than I expected without much support. Hopping across a few more boulders, we came to a footbridge. It was a sturdy one but made from planks with gaps. Anyone could fall.

Right after there was an even scarier bridge. Made of chains and planks, it wavered with each step. I was not having fun.

After crossing over another large boulder, I saw that the path led to even more footbridges that swayed.

“No, I don’t think this is the way.” My husband was already running ahead. “I don’t even want to try.”

I was upset.

As we turned back I noticed many rock climbers. They were hundreds of feet in the air. Totally unafraid.

I got back to the footbridge, the really scary one. ‘Why can’t I just go over it? Those people are hundreds of feet up.’

Looking down, there were tons of rocks ready to kill me. I sat down and cried.

I couldn’t take the heights, the unsecured walkways. I didn’t know how scared I was until I broke down.

After crying, I crawled my way across the bridge all the way back to the railroad tracks. We reread the instructions and followed the flat tracks and found the trailhead. When we entered, I saw that the other trail we’d been on, through the jungle of boulders, would have led to the same place.

Today’s hike to the summit was challenging but it was challenging in a way I’d enjoy. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to pull myself up. That’s the kind of playground fun I prefer.


03 May '18  — going off road in the kitchen

tiramisu making

After twelve hours of sleep, I felt extremely happy to be alive. I was in the mood to construct the dessert I’d been planning for several days.

Tiramisu turned out to be fun to make, despite my hesitation. The mascarpone cheese was stiff and solid. While blending mascarpone with a handheld mixer, the spindles would get caught, sputter, then abruptly continue. The handling of the mixer reminded me of driving an ATV through tough terrain, getting stuck in mud, then moving on abruptly. This time it all happened in a bowl.

As much as I was afraid the dessert would go to waste–it didn’t. I felt good just making it but luckily, people were interested enough.

The recipe for Tiramisu came from Nadine Levy Redzepi’s Downtime: Deliciousness at Home cookbook. I need to work on my own ratio of cream to ladyfingers and blend of coffee and liqueur in order to be completely satisfied–but that just takes more experience. I enjoyed how this version included a crispy graham cracker crust.


03 May '18  — one perspective to rule them all

“Is that text worth your life?” A car displays a bumper sticker on its back window.

“But don’t you believe love conquers all?” A person makes a final statement after an argument.

“There are some people who believe the world is flat.” A click bait headline shows up online.

These are just a few ideas I came across. I’m exhausted. Why is everyone demanding others to think a particular way?

I find myself demanding others to think a certain way–especially when I come across people who think in ways I wouldn’t condone.

“That person thinks texting is a major cause of auto related deaths. They really need their facts straight.”

“How is tighter gun control going to address the issue of mental health?”

There’s anger in acknowledging others’ “ignorance”.

Why do I care?

All the debates I’ve heard in my lifetime have been about getting people to see things a particular way. Why must other people HAVE TO see things the same way?

If I’m so ‘right’–why can’t I be happy with how right I am? Why must I have others acknowledge that I’m right in order to feel good about being right?

There’s an insecurity in needing others to change their minds.

We’re all looking for someone to tell us ‘Oh, you’re so right! I wish I had known better! Thank you for showing me the light!’

The last time I changed someone’s mind it took hours. At the end I was tired and realized there were additional issues that would take days to explain. It wasn’t worth pursuing.

Why did I need to spend my life changing someone’s perspective? Why is it such a natural urge?


02 May '18  — when you find yourself in the hole

Armagnac, Amaretto, full bottles. 4 tubs of Mascarpone. Two bags of ‘made in Italy’ ladyfingers. A vanilla bean pod. Heavy cream and one bar of dark chocolate.

Once you get the ingredients for tiramisu–there’s no turning back. $70 spent on materials.

Each time I procured an ingredient, I became less sure.

“Should I be making such a fatty dessert? I almost had a heart attack from eating three croissants yesterday. It says 8-10 servings. Who is going to eat this?! 4 tubs of Mascarpone!”

A few days ago, I found that any amount of caffeine was affecting my sleep. I’ve been trying to stay off coffee, however, the tiramisu ingredient procurement began way before.

What am I going to do? Halve the recipe? What about the remaining ingredients? $70 is a lot more than I wanted to spend. You could pay someone to make this.

Unfortunately…all there is to do is to make tiramisu and eat it.

Deal with it tomorrow.


01 May '18  — un-faith in fate

“I was born to do what I do.”

Successful people talk about their past, connecting dots as if there’s a need to justify how they got to where they are.

I’ve been reading a lot of cookbooks. Most authors mention how food had been such an important part of family life growing up. You’d be surprised how similar the stories are, just locations differ. After coming across a dozen similar stories, I started questioning the premise of these ‘growing up’ stories.

Then I was watching Netflix and came across a show on Logic, the rap artist. He talks about how his mom played Frank Sinatra records. The latest interview with David Letterman features Jay Z and he also elaborates on the records his parents played back when he was a child.

They may not have intentionally stated these facts as a way to convince people they’re preordained to be music superstars, but the fact the question is asked shows how the general public wishes to understand their story.

‘Why are you so successful today?’

‘Because I was born to be.’

That’s a weird thing to believe. Especially when there’s this idea of working hard, upward mobility. But the culture of working hard often coincides with preordainment.

There are many stories of people growing up poor. They had the persistence and drive to outwork others–look where they are today! Millionaires! Why are they more driven than others? It was preordained.

Once in a while I come across a story where the successful person has no prior history with what they’re doing, has no reason to be doing it but admits that things happened in a weird and roundabout way.

The stories where dots are disconnected seem to be far more believable.


30 Apr '18  — a clue

Memories haunt me. Different events from the past come up on a daily basis. There wasn’t anything embarrassing when the events occurred, but in hindsight, I’ll remember in a way where I’ll be mortified.

‘Oh I shouldn’t have done that!’

The last memory was about the time when a friend came over in college. I had a crush on this friend and I prepared for the meeting by buying a six pack of beer. I had the beer laying out next to the couch by a yoga mat. Just casually placed like it was unplanned.

When my friend came, he was excited to see beer.

“Why is there beer laying here? Can I have one?”

“Oh, yea. A friend came over earlier and dropped these off.”


“He just said I should have some.”

I believe he didn’t think too much about it–there was beer.

My first reaction when I came across this memory: “Why did I have to overcompensate and mention how the beer got there? I’m so transparent!”

Today I came across a video on true and false selves by the School of Life. It reminded me how much I’ve developed my false self. I’m rewarded to behave in ways that aren’t natural to me from an early age. Seeing my parents happy, getting warm treatment, respect from society–I’m used to behaving within certain bounds. I reprimand myself for behaving, or potentially behaving, outside those bounds.

I wasn’t mortified during that time my friend came over. I’m mortified in the present because I potentially didn’t behave within bounds that would make me worthy of anything positive in the world.

‘It’s not cool.’

My friend wouldn’t have cared. Who is this audience of I’m embarrassed to be in front of?

Yesterday, my mom told me she had a nightmare where she was held captive by someone. She never saw the person but she felt the presence of someone forcing her to be within a certain boundary of space.

I sense that captivity. There’s no one there but I’m held captive. There are certain behaviors that are acceptable and others that are not.

Mortification occurs when past behavior is seen as unacceptable. I can tangibly feel the boundaries of my false self. It forcibly tells me inside not to do this, not to be like that. Perhaps in these moments, I can become more acquainted with the gentle, almost invisible, true self. She hasn’t had a say on how I reflect on the past in a while.


28 Apr '18  — an imaginary issue I resolved in the past

In middle school, my father fixed people’s computers. To me and my sister, he made it seem like a specialized skill–only a few in the world had the gift to do this important task.

And it was important.

Back then, computers would freeze. Usually the mouse stops, keyboards lock or an infinite number of windows pop up. There was a lot of shutting down and restarting. A lot of people needed help–there wasn’t enough assistance to go around.

So it did seem that my dad had a specialized skill. Everyone my parents knew had computer problems and he was always helping them.

I remember thinking–what am I going to do when I get married?! I was using PageMaker, Photoshop and Premiere–the things I love in life would be over if I can’t get my computer to work.

I imagined visiting him in his old age, lugging my large computer for him to fix. Maybe I’ll have kids and I’ll have to bring them over for a visit–‘yes, that’ll be the time I bring my computer in for a tune up. That means I have to live close by.’

I was relieved I’d found a way.

It never occurred that computers could get better.


26 Apr '18  — when you lose your ability to couchsurf

“You think I can stay for a week?”

“Sure. Let me know when.”

“Booked my tickets. I’m coming ___”

When was the last time you stayed with a friend? The last time for me was at the end of my 20s. At the time, there was so much energy for travel and meeting with friends.

Then, the ability to sleep on couches, lay under borrowed blankets and soundlessly sleep in shared areas disappeared overnight.

It made economical sense back in the day. Go on a trip. Save money and stay with a welcoming friend. They’d host you and in exchange, you’d host them.

In addition to the money saving vacation, you’d get to catch up on gossip with someone you’re fond of.

Now, I don’t even want to travel let alone stay in another person’s place.

However, I love it when friends visit. I don’t mind sharing my own place–as long as I don’t have to leave. The give and take, I’ll host you and you host me economics, no longer makes sense.

I’d rather host if you don’t make it necessary for me to be hosted by you. Stay with me and catch me up on all the gossip.

The gossip was of secondary value before.

At the eve of this change, I couldn’t have anticipated its coming. The last few years of traveling and visiting friends were so enjoyable.

Then my home became extremely comfortable. I never want to leave.


26 Apr '18  — tasting notes

Yesterday a huge pot of vegetarian chili was made with corn, quinoa, black beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery, peppers, jalapeƱos, garlic, cinnamon, and chili powder.

As a vegetarian, I’m always looking for protein. This morning I thought, why not throw an egg on top?

veg chili

Shakshuka and menemen are both soupy tomato-ey breakfast dishes with eggs thrown into the mix. Since the chili had quite a bit of tomato, my hypothesis was that it’d work similarly–the rich yolk would pop and work well with accompanying flavors.

I tried it this morning and my husband mentioned how the yolk gets lost among the sour cream and chili. The sour cream cut through the chili but the flavor of yolk just wasn’t there.

Although this morning’s experiment didn’t work, the last experiment had. I made a vegetable lasagna substituting a mixture of blended cauliflower and feta for tomato sauce. Right out of the oven, it was okay, not stellar. The day after, however, the flavors developed. I could taste the mushrooms and all the veggies that were in the dish and the cauliflower blend provided moisture and creaminess without taking over.