Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr. Lin!

Hello everyone!

Today is Mr. Lin's Birthday!!!
so of course, our studio had to throw him a surprise birthday party  ;)

It all began last night when a couple of us from our studio got together to decorate his door.
Andy, Lijia, Jennifer, and I feeling incredibly mischievous  =p  haha

Our theme was "the more ridiculous the better"
so accordingly, the door had everything from birthday wrapping paper, to sparkly picture of a birthday cake, to little explosions of sparkly ribbon goodness, 'happy birthday' banner, and of course, streamers.

the finished product!!!!
Andy and Lijia also cut out cute little figures from the left over wrapping paper 
to decorate his name tag  haha
the whole crew!

Then this morning, our pianist, Neal, let us into his studio 
so that we could decorate the inside of his studio as well.
Then, we waited inside the studio with a cake to surprise him as he came into teach for the day.

I've never baked a 'real' cake before, 
(you know, the fluffy, incredibly sweet kind that people always eat on birthdays...)
so I was thinking about baking him a carrot cake that my trio used to make together all the time.
So last week, just to make sure that it would be a good choice,
I asked Mr. Lin if he liked carrots.

Needless to say, I think he was quite perplexed by the question  haha
the question was answered with something along the lines of,
"what?  you mean, like,,  raw carrots...?"
but in the end I got the answer I needed, which was 
"yes, I do like carrots"
so the carrot cake made its appearance at our studio this morning  =)

poor thing got squished in the middle on its way over to school...  =/

The surprise party had a bit of a rocky beginning because some of us had classes to run to,
and Mr. Lin was a bit late getting to school than we had anticipated.
So, just to make sure all of us could all stay,
Andy called Mr. Lin to ask if he was close to school,
and gave the excuse that he needed to know because he had to run and get something from his locker before his lesson.
We got the answer that Mr. Lin was about 20 yards from school, 
so all of us, even the ones late to class,
ran back into his studio and waited in silence to surprise him.

Our plan was that as soon as Mr. Lin got to the door,
Lisa would count '1, 2, 3' and all of us would yell,
"Happy Birthday Mr. Lin!!"
in time with him opening the door.

However, Mr. Lin got to the door, 
which we knew because we could hear him chuckling through the wall,
but then he fell silent for at least a couple of minutes before opening the door!
Poor Lisa counted '1, 2,,,'  at least like 10 times   haha
(later on, he informed us that was because he was taking pictures of the door)
But at last, he finally opened the door, 
and was greeted with all of us yelling,
"Happy Birthday!!!"

His reaction was basically perfect  =)

And he liked the carrot cake too!
but I mean, we already knew that he liked carrots, so we weren't too worried  ;)

 So Happy Birthday Mr. Lin!
Thank you for teaching all of us!

most of Mr. Lin's studio and our wonderful pianist, Neal.
Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My favorite kind of a Saturday

Hello everyone!

My recital is this Sunday!!
I had my recital preview this morning,
--at Shepherd School of Music, we have to run through our recital for 2 committee members 
and get their approval to be able to perform the recital,,, eek?  haha--
and now it's really beginning to feel real  =)

But before the craziness of this week truly begins,
I just wanted to take some time to breathe and savor my favorite kind of a Saturday.

It actually started late Friday night,
which was full of chocolates.
--the Chocolate Bar!  have you been?  if not, you should definitely go!--
for her, and for him
 They have all sorts of things made of chocolate.
We didn't end up buying these, but we thought they were pretty great nonetheless  ;)
you can't go wrong with a large block of shaped chocolate!
--it would've been much better if they had science related things for him though.
hint hint, chocolate bar!  ;)--

and we finished a whole box of chocolate covered strawberries by ourselves!  haha
his first chocolate covered strawberries ever!  =)

Then the morning (and the rest of the day) was composed of making Gom Gook
Korean Ox Tail Soup,
which turned out to be delicious btw,

making some mini pizzas--
BBQ chicken and Pesto Chicken

and getting lots of work done!   =)

I realize doing work on a Saturday usually doesn't make the favorites list for most people,
but we both have huge presentations of sorts coming up this week,
so it was a necessity.
and besides, it wasn't that bad,
especially since we had frequent cooking breaks  =)
Music for her, Science for him.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What? January is almost over?!

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the long absence!
I never meant to take such a long break away from blogging,
but my second semester at Rice began much like the way horse races begin,
(ready, set, gates open!!)
and it feels a bit like I've been getting dragged along behind the horse for the past 3 weeks or so.

One of the reasons why I feel a bit overwhelmed is the fact that my very first Master's Degree recital here at Rice is coming up!
February 3rd to be exact!
So there has been a lot of these three guys in my life for the past month.

Beethoven                                     Poulenc                                                   Gershwin

I'll write more about the recital soon,
but right now, I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate every time I think about my recital,
so I'm just going to move on to other things that's been happening this month  haha  ;)

This semester, I'm playing in the Rice Chamber Orchestra,
which is a smaller or the two Rice orchestras here,
and it's been such a wonderful experience!
I really enjoyed being in the bigger one last semester, 
but this is a lot more intimate and more chamber music-esq because there are less people involved.
I never used to be this way, but as I get older, I find that I enjoy smaller, more intimate gatherings over larger crowds...  
is that weird?  is that an age thing?
Anyway, another reason I'm really enjoying this concert cycle is because!!!
Ioana and I are stand partners again!!
She was my very first stand partner here at Rice,
and she's just so fun to sit next to  =)
playing with our legs 'crossed' during rehearsal   haha
perhaps we have too much fun during rehearsals?  =p   

Also, we're playing this new piece for percussion and chamber orchestra,
and check out this percussion setup!  
so intense!
I couldn't even tell you what half of these instruments are...
so cool!

And January has also been full of food!!
are you surprised?  haha

 Usually, people enjoy going out to eat at different restaurants,
and I'm not necessarily against that at all,
but if I could pick, (and I usually do get to pick  ;)  haha)
I would pick cooking and eating at home over going out to eat any day!

People who knew me a couple of years ago would be shocked to hear this,
because I was one of those girls who couldn't even make popcorn in the microwave,
(actually, I did almost just burn our house down using the microwave awhile ago.. =/)
but whadayaknow, it turns out that I really enjoy cooking!!

Breakfast is a bit difficult for me because I'm not a big breakfast eater,
and I would rather choose sleep over food in the morning,
but one morning in January,
David and I did end up cooking breakfast together!
on the menu:
Ho dduck!
I've mentioned these before here, and they are usually eaten as desserts,
but we found that they are also good as breakfast!
These were probably the tiniest Ho Dducks I have ever consumed,
but David wanted them bite-sized, and it worked!  ;)   haha
double skillet action!

Then for brunch-ish lunch on one January afternoon,
we made an incredibly Asian table setting.
David and I had made a trip to H Mart and 99 Ranch <-- my first time here!
and so all of the food items were Asian  haha
no complaints here!  ;)

Rice, dumplings, dried seaweed, 2 different kinds of kimchi, tofu stew, and sesame balls 

Amulet and I have also made Enchiladas for the first time this month,
and they were SO good!!!!
It was one of the most labor intensive meals,
and since our kitchen is an 'Experimental Kitchen', 
we didn't know exactly how they would turn out.
We were particularly worried because there have been many a times when the most labor intensive dishes would turn out to be one of the worst recipes we had tried.

However, I am happy to report that these Enchiladas were FABULOUS!
So much so that we're going to make them again sometime soon  =)

And our 'Experimental Kitchen' wouldn't be complete without baking...
so Amulet and I made some White and Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!!

And these past weeks have been so stressful that ice cream needed to make an appearance.
much better.

 These are actually sorbet, but all I require is that they be sweet and frozen,
 so these worked wonderfully  ;)

And though I did just say that I would much rather eat and drink at home,
it is really nice to go out sometime,
and Amulet's been the best at getting me to leave the apartment  haha

I forget where this was, but yay for margarita night with my two favorites!!

And also, we discovered O My Gogi food truck,
and Amulet and I've been CRAVING these fries ever since we tried them that one fateful night.
love love LOVE these fries..
(though my tummy usually doesn't enjoy them  haha)

so here's to the last week of January!
dear end of January, please be kind,,, though you probably will not be,,,
but that's ok! cuz we've got ice cream!   haha

and I'll try to be better about posting  =)
Happy Thursday!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cikan House and the Meadowlark Kitchen

Hello everyone!

As you all know, I am the violinist of the Meadowlark Trio,
and it's been a crazy couple of days for us Meadowlarks in Bozeman, MT!

We've been rehearsing pretty much non-stop ever since we got here to prepare for two concerts,
the first of which happened last night at the Cikan residence!
It was such an incredibly beautiful and intimate space,
and we had such a blast performing there together.
Chamber music was meant to be performed in exactly this kind of a space, so charming!  ;)

Timmay is going to write about our experience performing there on our trio blog
so if you'd like to read more about the event, please visit there  =)

Our trio with Frank and Jirina Cikan!
Wow, what an amazing couple.
Thank you so much for opening your home for our performance!  =)

The Meadowlarks celebrating after the performance  =)

Then, today, Abers' family saw the Meadowlark Kitchen in action!

The menu:
tomato, avocado, arugula salad with poppyseed dressing
bbq chicken pizza with mozzarella, creme cheese, corn, and jalapenos
chef special pizza with butternut squash, arugula, and greek yogurt/corn sauce

oh man...
pizza is a staple at the Meadowlark kitchen, so we've made many, many different pizzas,
but these have to be the best pizza we've ever made.

So. Good.

It was such a wonderful evening full of yummy food and wonderful people   =)

We have 3 more days here in Bozeman, 
with 1 coaching and another performance remaining,
and probably more amazing cooking,
and I am so excited to experience them all with Timmay and Abers!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Meadowlarks at the Cikan House!

Hello everyone!

The Meadowlarks have been reunited!!!
Our piano trio--April Sun, Tim Paek, and Janny Joo--
haven't been able to play together for close to 7 months now, 
and it sure does feel so great to be playing together again!

The reason we have all congregated in Bozeman, Montana,
is because we have two concerts here this week,
and the first of the two is happening tomorrow!!

It's been kind of nuts though, trying to put together a full program in,,, a day, basically.
We picked Timmay up from the airport yesterday,
rehearsed all day today, (seriously, I think we rehearsed for 8 hours today)
and then we perform tomorrow!
talk about intense scheduling!  haha

We have been working so hard to put this together,
and we are so excited to share this program with the Bozeman community!
It'll be at the Cikan House at 7 PM,
and if you are around the Bozeman area,
we would love to see you there!

Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be back with more information on our second concert soon!  =D
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating 2012

Hello everyone!

I am currently in Bozeman, Montana, spending some time with Abers and her wonderful family, and waiting to be reunited as the Meadowlark Trio with Timmy on New Years Day!
And as I am sitting here, waiting to kick off 2013 with two recitals that I get to perform with my bestest friends, I can't help but be filled with incredible warmth, happiness, and gratefulness.
(more information on these recitals will be coming soon, but you can also go to our trio blog for the times and places!   =))
I have truly lead a blessed life, and I am so thankful for everyone who has played a part in making it so wonderful!  

One of the things I am really thankful for this year is the fact that I started this blog.  
I have never been good at keeping diaries of any sort,
but somehow, I have been able to keep up with uploading onto the blog at least once a week!
Perhaps it's the gentle nudgings from my family members who are scattered all over the world whenever I get lazy with the postings?
or perhaps I do find that blogging can be rather therapeutic, much the way others find diaries therapeutic?
or perhaps that I find it much more interesting than diaries because I can include pictures?

Whatever the reason, I am so glad that I kept up with the blogging because it's such a great way to look back and remember all of the wonderful things that has happened in the past year!

So here are some of the many things I am really grateful for this past year.

I am so grateful that I had a travel buddy during the most stressful time of the year; 
the audition season.
Meredith and I were both studying with Julie at UNL,
and both of us were auditioning for Master's programs this year.
Somehow, we were fortunate enough to not only have almost all the same schools on our list,
but also able to schedule all of our auditions at the same time!
This meant that we could travel together,
we rarely had to be alone in a foreign city,
and also that we each had a cheerleader by our side as we went to go kick some butt in the auditions!
I really couldn't have asked for a better traveling and auditioning partner!  ;)

Me trying to have Meredith hair.  at an antique store in Ann Arbor, MI.

I am so grateful that I had so many opportunities to collaborate with amazing musicians/friends!

I had worked with Nels Drue Daily, who is really a wonderful composer, for a couple of years,
and this year was really an incredible year of collaboration with him!
He wrote a piece for April and I called "3 Impulses", and we got to perform that at a festival in Kearney earlier this year.
Then, our trio premiered a piece he wrote us called the "Meadowlark Rag" in May!
It is such a fun piece, and we are so excited to get to perform it again in the recitals coming up this week in Bozeman!
He is currently writing another piece for me and April, and we can't wait to premiere it in a recital next year!
Here's to another year of wonderful collaboration!  ;)
Abers and I with the Daily's.  Ashley and Nels; beautiful people, wonderful musicians.

In May, a couple of good friends and I formed a tango band, and gave a tango-ish/latin-ish recital!
It was my first time really venturing out and trying a different 'style' of music,
and it was So. Much. Fun!!
I got to try many things I had never had to do before like improvising and transcribing,
and it was fun to get to play with different instruments like the Cajon, the double bass, and the guitar.
We also premiered an original piece by our guitarist, Alexios Anest,
which had a bit of a bluegrass-ish kind of a feel, which was really fun as well  =)
Such a fun project! 
our tango-ish band  haha  ;)

Then, of course, there was the 'Friends Concert'.
It was a concert where the four of us performed different pieces with one another,
sort of as a farewell concert.
It was I believe the night before graduation?
the three of us--Michael, Tim, and I--were graduating,
so it was quite an emotional recital.
I'm glad we all got to play together though  =)
and actually, all four of us will be together again!
Funny how life works right?
we were so sad because we thought this concert would be our last,
but the Meadowlark trio is back together for a concert, and Michael is coming to join us to hang out!
I cannot WAIT for all of us to be together again!
friends.  there really could be a TV show about us--we went through so much together..  haha

I am so grateful for so many graduations this year!
Mom graduated with her Master's degree, and also got her Nurse Practitioner certificate (go mommy!).

I graduated with my Bachelor's degree from UNL.
UNL will always hold a special place in my heart because it was a place that allowed me to pursue my love of music, my love of history, my short but intense interest in math, my interest in all sorts of different subjects of study, and my desire to always be neck deep in extra curricular activities.

I've also met wonderful friends through my involvements in different student organizations, and through Chi Omega Fraternity, and I've had the chance to work with incredible teachers and professors.

I am especially thankful for Julie for guiding me for those 4 years and also a couple years previous to my officially studying with her.
Without her, I probably would not have been able to pursue violin the way I am right now,
and for that, I am so incredibly thankful!  =)

and lil bro graduated with his high school diploma!
and I'm so glad I got to attend lil bro's graduation.
Yay for so many new and exciting beginnings!

I am so grateful that I got to go on a road trip to San Francisco with lil bro and grandma!
What a city.  I would love to live there someday.
and road trips with your loved ones are the best!

I am so grateful that I got to attend Emily's wedding!!
We've been friends since elementary/middle school, and it was so fun to celebrate with her as she began a completely new and exciting chapter in her life  =)
what a beautiful wedding--look at them glowing!  ;)   haha

I am so grateful that I was chosen to attend Foulger International Music Festival as one of their fellows!!
I had incredible performance opportunities with amazing musicians,
and met many wonderful people  =)
It was definitely a summer to remember!
with Allison Eldredge, Alex Beyer, and Hsin-Yun Huang.
favorite people  =)


I am so grateful that Linda came to visit me in Seattle!!
We've been best friends since middle school, and I'm so glad we got to spend a week together before she went off to NYC to study in Columbia (she's a smart one  ;)  haha)
I can't wait to see her again soon... 
because we will!  somehow  ;)

I am so grateful that I got accepted into Mr. Lin's Studio at Rice University Shepherd School of Music!
As I mentioned above, I was auditioning to pursue a Master's degree in Violin Performance,
and I was so ecstatic when I finally got the acceptance phone call from Rice.
In fact, the director of admissions told me that I had the best response he had ever heard  haha.
So glad I get to study with Mr. Lin at Rice and be a part of this amazing studio!

I am so grateful that daddy came to help me get settled in Houston.
I really don't know how I could have done it without him.
It was the first time I had to set up an apartment from scratch, get a car, register different things, and etc, 
and I would have been a serious mess if he had not been there.
so, thanks daddy!!
you can see a bit of our Houston adventures (mostly of Rice campus) here.  

I am so grateful that I had more opportunities for collaboration!
Rice hosts a Chamber Marahon every semester,
and this semester, I got to play in two different groups;
a piano, clarinet, and violin trio,
and a violin octet!
What wonderful people and what interesting music!  =)
Can't wait to collaborate with the trio again next semester
the Khachaturian Trio
Gran Turismo

I am so grateful to have met so many new friends!
It was such a blast to meet so many new people from so many different schools at Rice,
as well as reconnect with friends I've known before,
mostly from high school (Interlochen Arts Academy)

There have been such epic parties like the Texas style BBQ

the TURDUCKENHEN.  4 birds.

speaking of friends,,,
I am so grateful for my roomy, Amulet!
oh Amulet...  
I can't even count how many times we were both dying because we were laughing so hard...
though I can't remember what we were laughing about exactly,
(probably mostly at each other) 
we never fail to have these giggle/laughing episodes incredibly frequently.

Thank you for always trying to get me to practice,
then failing to practice yourself because we end up talking for hours on the floor in my room  haha

Though we are quite opposites, somehow we manage to coexist incredibly well,
and have a lot of fun doing so.  ;)
I'm so glad we are roomies Amulet, 
my Rice experience would never have been the same without you!

I am so grateful for wonderful friends and visitors to our apartment,
and the consequent baking sprees.
they are documented herehere, and here.

Grace and Abers
Making of MO with David and Abers

I am so thankful for the chance to join the Rice Ballroom Team.
I didn't think I would get to do ballroom at Rice,
and I can't express how elated I was when I found out that Rice also had a ballroom team!
It's been so fun getting to dance again and getting to know everyone on the team.
A few of our performances have been documented here, here, and here.

I am so thankful for David.
It's been so great getting to know him through ballroom dancing, running, baking, cooking, hosting parties, David offering to help fix the things that Amulet and I have broken in our apartment, working, etc, etc.
Thanks for always being so thoughtful and caring, being excited to try new and different things, and for being willing to carry on a conversation with minimal input from me while running--because I can't put together long sentences when I'm focusing on putting one foot before the other.  haha  =p
Here's to another year full of the many things we enjoy doing together!

and last, but not least,
I am SO incredibly thankful for my family.
I would not be who I am without them, and I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.

My parents have always been incredibly supportive of everything I wanted to try,
--and trust me, there were many... my poor parents probably spent half of their lives in the car driving me back and forth to all of my extra curricular activities...  no joke--
and they have always been wonderful role models for me.
I am always so in awe at how they are able to juggle working incredibly hard, 
and yet always find time to enjoy life, have fun, and have time to spend with their loved ones.
happy 25th anniversary mom and dad!
much love!

and of course, my lil bro and my lil cuz.
they're both doing so well and growing into quite the gentlemen, if I may say so myself
--they always carry my luggage up to my room for me  ;)  haha
I am so proud of them for always working hard at whatever they set their minds to,
and growing into kind and respectful human beings.
After all, as our dad always says, you have to be a 'human' first before you become anything else.
--the 'human' is in quotations because when you say that in Korean, that means 'a kind and respectful human being'--

And finally, my baby.
 I could gush and gush about my baby, but I've already done that so much on this blog that I should probably refrain  haha  =p
(the gushing can be seen if you click on the link above)
but yes, so glad he is a part of our family.
what a character, this guy.  
quite the lovable little devil   ;)

Wow, what a long post,,,
but it was an incredible year full of so many blessings  =)
I hope all of you had a wonderful year as well,
and here's to 2013!
I can't wait to see what it has in store for us!
Happy New Year!