My birthday

Today, I turned 32. Age is just a number, they say. You are as young as you feel! I always hear. For me, though, my birthday has always felt a little bit gloomy. I remember that I felt very, very depressed on my 24th & 25th birthdays because I was unemployed both years on this day. Being an unemployed college graduate was not something that I had planned on doing. I had high hopes for myself, yet I was very naive, and like most twenty-somethings, I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t know that I would graduate during one of the worst recessions of our time – 2008, and for someone with a business degree and no plan or any idea what she wanted to do in life after graduation was not a predicament that one would want to be in.

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Morning 2.22.2017

What I didn’t know was that it would take me many years to get to where I am today. It has been a very slow progression, but today, I have a job that by no means a “dream job” but it suits me and I like where I am. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for almost a decade. I have two wonderful kids whom I grew in my body and pushed them out, much to my dismay, in a quick succession without any pain meds. I live in a neighborhood that I love. My husband and I own our car outright. My student loans are not paid off yet, but it will be by the end of this year. I have several retirement accounts and excellent credit. If that’s not achievement then I don’t know what is.

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To quote from one of my favorite children’s book series, Dr. Seuss. He knows what’s up.

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

I’ve never felt more like myself than today. Today is when I became at peace with myself, at the position that I’m in. Life isn’t perfect, and you’re not always going to get what you want, but if you sit down and think about what you already have, then it makes life more worthwhile.

 

Downtown Portland

Monday induces the oh-so-big sighs from many of us, for it’s the end of the weekend, end of fun activities, outings and the like. Back the dreariness of life, or a thing called “work.” But not I. For me, getting back to work means going back to downtown Portland. Six months ago, I was lucky enough to snag a job at a local university, the same university that I graduated from many years ago – it feels strange being an employee and not a student.

Nonetheless, I love being downtown, amidst all the hustle and bustle of every day life, where everything can be reached within minutes of walking and even less driving (sometimes during traffic it can feel the same amount of time as walking!). Coffee shops, restaurants, schools, theaters, local businesses and the like. That’s what I love about being downtown. I may have been born into the country life, but I grew up in the city and I’m a city girl at heart.

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The day started off on a wet note – puddles of rain awaited me as I stepped out the door this morning with my camera. I felt really nervous about walking in the rain to the train station carrying my camera, because it reminded me of that one time many years ago when I took an Olympus point-and-shoot that I got as a gift from my husband to a group retreat at a camp in the forest and throughout that weekend, it rained and I brought it outside, to my sheer stupidity, it got destroyed and no longer worked when it dried up.

Hence, I refrained myself from taking pictures, for fear of destroying my lens.

Luckily, the afternoon came and my work day was over. I stepped out into a bright, clear and semi-warm day, beneath a small covering of clouds, I felt really glad, not just because it stopped raining, but because I felt so much change happening around me. Construction was being done on a new business school at PSU, I saw many men & women working hard at it, plus beautiful wall art (below) and an endless supply of those orange bikes littered all around campus. Finally, as I was walking towards the daycare center on campus to pick up my daughter, I decided to venture off into a little corner of the world that was hidden away and once stepped in, it felt like I was in The Secret Garden (one of my favorite books as a child). This kind of foliage is something that I’ve always yearned to have, something that I find so beautiful and comforting.

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I wish I lived here…
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Afternoon 2.20.2017

Crispy chicken fusion wrap

Sometime in the past week or so, I may have mentioned here and there that I don’t really cook – in fact, I’m pretty spoiled in the nourish department. My husband cooks, my mother cooks, my sister-in-laws cook. Everybody cooks except me. Regardless, now’s a good time to admit that I’m fairly creative in the lunch department – this is the first edition of “make whatever you can find in your fridge for lunch” series.

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Take, for example, you’re a big fan of chicken. Crispy fried chicken, that is. But you don’t live close enough to a Kentucky Fried Chicken or a Popeye’s – lord knows how dangerous that would be if you did! So you resort to buying Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips (like these) at the grocery store. One day, you’re feeling a little hungry. It’s about 10:30 a.m. and the baby is taking a nap. Perfect time to make lunch right?

Except you’re not really in the mood for noodles or soup, or leftovers.

So what do you do? You gather up these ingredients:

  • Fresh herbs – mint, basil, or cilantro
  • Lettuce
  • Sriracha mayo
  • Sriracha (or rooster sauce)
  • Ranch dressing
  • Bean sprouts
  • Pickled daikon & carrots (can be found at an Asian supermarket)
  • Tortillas
  • Chicken strips (preferably Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips)

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It’s not surprising for someone like me to buy tortillas and never actually have a burrito night. I buy tortillas so I can make wraps. They’re easy and nutritious, in my opinion. Plus you can use leftovers (like turkey from Thanksgiving) to make it into a wrap. Easy peasy.

DISCLOSURE: The common denominator in these two wraps is the fact that they’re spicy- because I like ’em spicy. If you can’t take the heat, don’t feel pressured to put it on. Leave the sauce out.

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Anyways, once you have all the ingredients listed above, you can have your wrap in two ways: The first option is above – cook your chicken until it’s crispy on the outside, then lather up some ranch dressing, put the chicken on the tortilla, then add a combination of bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, and some pickled daikon & carrots. Voila!

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Second option: leave the ranch dressing out, instead put your (cooked & crispy) chicken on the tortilla, put some pickled daikon & carrots, plus some lettuce, then squirt some sriracha mayo on top.

This task can be accomplished in about 10 minutes or less. Depending on how fast your oven is – I used a toaster oven, which took almost 10 minutes – you can have these wraps faster than you can watch all the super bowl Sunday commercials.

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