Monday, February 25, 2013

to CALI!!!

Hello everyone,

It's officially Spring Break!!!!!

and David and I are currently sitting in Houston IAH airport waiting for our flight to California!!
Bye bye, gloomy Houston, 
hello, (hopefully) incredibly sunny Cali!  =D

We're only there for 5-ish days, but we're going to try to fit in as many sight seeing as we can,
and also visit as many of our friends and family while we are there.
hopefully up all of these places marked on the map..?
yay road trip!!
it's going to be pretty epic  =)

I'll try to keep up with the blogging as much as I can throughout our intense spring break adventure  ;)
Happy Monday everyone!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A date...?

Hello everyone!

Spring break isn't until next week, but having had my lesson yesterday,
I feel kinda like I'm already on spring break!  =p

Ah the life of a Musi grad student--
our lives revolve around lessons.
intensive prepping and stressing days up to our lesson,
then rejoicing for a day or two-or more- post lesson (depending on when the next lesson happens).
and when this cycle is disturbed, 
like it was when we had 3 lessons in 6 days, D=
that is when you will witness grad students experiencing variety of panic related psychological episodes...

At the moment, because my lesson won't happen for another 2 weeks,
my rejoicing period post lesson has been extended!
ahhh... I feel like I have so much time to relax and do non-violin related things...
(though if I was smarter, I would start my next lesson prep now so I wouldn't have to kill myself trying to learn whole bunch of new repertoire in a couple of days before my lesson...)

Anyway, I forgot to mention our belated Valentine's Day date in my last post,
so I thought I'd do that today.

I've never really been a 'date' kind of a person--
there was a period of time in my life when I went on a date or two almost every weekend for a month,
and it really wasn't very fun,
so it really turned me off from the whole idea of going on 'dates'.

But David assured me that that was because they were all basically blind dates,
and that blind dates are very different than going on dates with someone you already like.

so... we went on our belated Valentine's Day date last weekend!

We were originally going to go to Benjy's for lunch,
but what we didn't consider was that it was brunch time on a Sunday.
Since we didn't have a reservation, we were told we would have to wait an hour or two,
so instead of waiting, we found a different restaurant in the Rice Village,
the Black Walnut Cafe.
It was super busy, but we chose to sit inside
--since most people wanted the outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather--
so we were still able to chat without having to yell at one another,
and eat in relative peace and (sort of) quiet  =)

After that, since it was such a gorgeous day outside,
we went for a walk in the Rice Village.
We live really close to the Village, and I've driven by the Village so many times,
but I guess I really haven't taken the time to explore the place...?
Because when we did take a stroll around, 
I was pleasantly surprised at how big it was,
and how many cute little shops they had there!

oh, and they had this spiral staircase leading up to the rooftop of this building,
so naturally, we had to go explore it.
I absolutely love spiral staircases!! 
I mean, not only is it just so much cooler than normal staircases,
it's also a better use of space!
(I mean, it'd be hard to move large furniture up and down it,
but who considers those things when they have irrational obsessions?)

I think he was a bit perplexed by my enthusiasm at seeing the spiral staircase,
but he was a good sport about it, as he always is when I'm excited about odd things, 
(and I always seem to be excited about one thing or another,, haha)
 and took photos on it with me  ;)

Next stop?
Because, you know, it's the most important part of any meal. right?
And our choice of dessert that day was crepes!

Sweet Paris Creperie

If you are ever in the mood for crepes, and you happen to be in the Village,
we would highly recommend Sweet Paris Creperie and Cafe  =)
Such a cute little shop!

We got the Nutella strawberry crepe,
 but you can also get a savory crepe and make it into a meal!

obviously happy about our choice of crepe  haha

So I guess David was right,
going on 'dates' (the non-blind kind) isn't so bad after all  =p
in fact, we had a great time!
It was fun just to walk around the village, enjoy the wonderful weather,
eat yummy food, and be goofy together.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Hello everyone,
Today is my daddy's birthday!! =D

Well, it is sort of his birthday...?
I mean, it is his birthday, but his birthday is not February 20.
It's actually January 11, but we celebrate it today because it's January 11 via the Lunar calendar.

so confusing, I know.  haha
But all that aside,
it's the birthday of this daddy's girl's favorite person ever,
so I hope he has a marvelous day  =)

Happy Birthday Daddy!!
writing our name into the glacier on our trip to Canada awhile back  =)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Music + Science Life

 Hello everyone,

It's been a fun week or two here at Rice,
but I think everyone is incredibly ready for our Spring Break to be here already!!!
just a couple more days of working our buttocks off,
and then we can get out of Houston and fly to California to visit LA and San Francisco!!   =D

This will be an extra special visit since we get to visit David's Dad,
and then go see my baby brother AND my first roomy ever, Alina, in Berkeley!!
It will be also fun because Berkeley is David's old stomping grounds!  =p

 I can see it now, baby bro and David's gonna be all Berkeleying it up, 
and I'm just going to be like,,,  
'I visited here once... for baby bro's orientation...'   haha

It was such a fun trip though, that trip to Berkeley and San Francisco,
--you can read about our road trip to Berkeley and San Francisco here, here, and here--
and I can't wait to visit the beautiful bay area once again and explore it together with a few of my favorite people in the world!  =D

picture taken from a top of one large hill on Berkeley campus...  it was near a science center of some sort...

 It's difficult not to think ahead to Spring Break,
but the past week has been quite eventful and full of music + science and I wanted to take a moment to remember a couple of things from the week  =)

Firstly, Itzhak Perlman came to Houston!!!
Lijia, David, and I attended the performance together,
and it was incredible to see and hear him perform live.
It was extra fun because he was performing a piece Lijia was going to perform on her recital that coming Sunday--the Devil's Trill by Tartini!
What I really appreciate about Perlman is not only the fact that he is an incredible musician,
but also the fact that he is always so charming and engaging at his performances.
He always talks to the audience, tells jokes and stories, 
and creates an overall comforting and welcoming atmosphere.
It was such a fun night, and a huge thanks to our friend Karen for providing us with the tickets!  =)

Last night, we also watched Mr. Lin perform at Shepherd as well!
So many awesome performances this past week!!
He performed a Mozart sonata KV304, Ravel sonata, and the Enescu Octet,
and it was definitely a moment of 'oh, that's how violin playing can look like,,, so effortless..'  haha
and man, Enescu Octet?!
wow.  that piece is really something when you hear it live.
I had heard it before in recordings, and I didn't really care for it all that much,
but listening to it yesterday was SO exciting!!
Of course I had heard Mr. Lin perform in recordings and in Youtube videos,
but it was the first time I had seen him perform live, and it was definitely inspiring.

ok. time to go practice...

haha, just kidding.  
well, no, not kidding, I do have a lesson tomorrow so I have to go practice,
but I'll finish this post first..  =)

This concert cycle, I'm in the opera orchestra, and we're playing Ariodante by Handel.
I had never heard of the opera before,
but I'm excited to see what it's like when everything is staged and we have the singers with us.
So far, it's just been the orchestra, and so it hasn't been all that exciting,
but we start rehearsing with the singers soon!

this is what happens during our breaks  haha

Strangely enough, I have also been spending quite a bit of time in a science lab this past week as well.
What would a Musi be doing in a science lab, you ask?
Oh you know, mental practicing, and listening to music, and marveling at the fact that things catch on fire yet no one seems to be the least bit concerned...

so, basically, I still do the normal Musi stuff, just in a different environment   haha

and when I get tired of mental practicing,
I can go see this guy hard at work,
in all his proper lab safety gear...  =p

 So it's been a lot of working long hours for both of us lately,
but his hard work is really starting to pay off, and I'm so happy for him!  =)

and working long hours at Shepherd or at lab isn't so bad,
especially when you can squeeze in a walk together between the two buildings,
and walk by this beautiful skyspace every time you do so  =) 

kinda looks like an alien ship, no?  haha

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to my baby brother!!

Hello everyone!

Today is my baby brother's birthday!

Well, he's not so baby anymore,,,
in fact, he's turning 19 today,
and he's grown quite a bit from the little baby brother I used to drag around everywhere I went  =)

He's grown up to be quite the guy;
being so passionate about everything he's involved in,
always taking on the challenges head on, and never giving up,
always being so caring and willing to help out his friends
-whether it's with academics, dancing, or anything else-
and even when he's going through that 'I'm a teenager, and I'm so cool phase',
still retaining that tender heartedness that he's always had since he was just a baby.

I'm so proud of you lil bro!
And though you'll get older, and inevitably change,
I hope that your heart never changes  =)

And even though he's grown up to be much bigger than I am now,
you know what they say;
he'll always be my baby brother   ;)

I hope you have a wonderful day lil bro!
Good luck on your midterms!
(poor guy, midterms on his birthday...)
I can't wait to see you soon!
Big Sis.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello everyone!

Happy Valentine's Day from the Blueberries Apartment!
We had a little adventure at Target's 'Valentopia' awhile ago,
and there, we found our true loves--stuffed version.

You know, just the normal roomy bonding stuff   ;)   haha

We also visited the farmer's market yesterday, 
and there Amulet fell in love with the Red Velvet Macaroons!
I've only tried Macaroons once in my life, and.. well, it was kind of like eating pure sugar...
I think I was a bit scarred by that experience, so I passed on the macaroons this time.
But they were quite cute!  and in a heart shape too!
And Amulet assured me that they were quite delicious.

As for the Valentine's Day 'date',
that's not happening until Sunday for us.
(Oh the 'harsh'--but we secretly love it--realities of grad student life...)
He is busy with sciencey things trying to do awesome things with the green flashing E. Coli,
and I've spent the day preparing for my lesson, 
then losing track of time in the music library.
(you know, because libraries are like time black holes.  Once you go in it, time just disappears!)
--Nerd moment--

he had a 'you've got mail' moment waiting for him when he went into lab this morning,

And I had a surprise waiting for me when I went to put my violin in my locker after my lesson.
Best post-lesson therapy ever?   
yes!  =D

It's still a mystery to me how my locker combination has been compromised so easily,
but I suppose it's ok when the result included cute animals and yummy chocolates  ;)

I hope all of your Valentine's Day was wonderful!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent and Laundry Detergent

Hello everyone!

Recently, Amulet informed me that we were running out of dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent:  
What a perfect opportunity to put my Pinterest action to good use
 and make these two detergents at home!!

Another reason I thought it was a good time to try this was the fact that Abers was visiting!
Our conversation went something like this,

J: Abers, you wanna help me make homemade laundry detergent?
A:  Oh My God...  Are we going to blow something up trying to do this?
If I die making laundry detergent, I'm so going to kill you in the afterlife.

But don't worry, the making of these detergents didn't include any dangerous activities,
they aren't dangerous to the environment,
and they were actually super easy to make!

For the dishwasher detergent, we used this recipe exactly.

1 1/2 Cup of Lemi-Shine (1 12 oz container of Lemi-Shine. it comes in powder form)
1/2 Cup Salt  (we used the pickling salt)
and some white vinegar as the rinse agent.

I found all of these at the local Wal-Mart because Target didn't have some of the items.

Once you measure it all out, mix it all together!
(except for the vinegar, this goes into the rinse compartment in your dishwasher)
Abers hard at work  haha

and VOILA!!


I put them into a spaghetti sauce jar, and the Lemi-Shine container.
yay for recycling?  haha

To do the dishes, we just dump some into the detergent compartment,
but the original recipe is more exact in telling us to use 2 Tbs of it per load.
Of course, don't forget the vinegar as the rinse aid!
I'm happy to report that our dishes have been coming out crystal clear every time!  =)

For the laundry detergent, I did some research and came up with a modified version of my own.
I wanted it to be a dry detergent because liquid ones required me to melt things over fire and,
well, you know...
Abers was going to kill me in the afterlife if we got blown up while making some detergent..   haha

So here's the Laundry Detergent Recipe

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 box of Laundry Zote Soap Flakes (2 bars worth)
and again, some white vinegar for the rinsing cycle.

Again, we found all of these ingredients at Wal-Mart in the detergent aisle

The process is super easy for this as well.
You just mix it all together!
(minus the vinegar)

However, because there are much more ingredients to mix,
we would recommend pouring a little bit of each ingredient at a time and mixing them up in stages.
Even when we did this, by the time we got to the last layer of the mixture, 
it was pretty difficult to mix it all together...

mixing stages...  the 4th stage gave me a pretty good arm workout..  haha

And then, Voila!

It made so much, but I put some into a smaller bottle for easier access.
I put in about 2-3 spoonfuls of the detergent per load, depending on the size of the load.
Oh, and I also put in a bit of vinegar (1 spoonful) as well,
and I promise the clothes didn't come out smelling vinegary.
They say that vinegar is really good for disinfecting,
and I'm again happy to report that our clothes came out fresh and clean!!

I also read that you could put in a couple of drops of essential oils,
but when I tried that, my clothes didn't end up smelling like anything,
so I'm not sure I will continue to add the essential oils...

The clothes don't come out smelling like 'spring meadow' or whatever else the store bought ones claim to make your clothes smell like,
but it does come out smelling very fresh, so I personally like it much better this way  =)

It was a lot of fun making these,
especially since I really enjoy tinkering with DIY stuff,
and everyone tells me that this way is also a lot cheaper than buying store bought ones,
so that's an added bonus!  =D

Hope you enjoyed these recipes!
And let me know if these also work for you  =)
 Happy Monday!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recital Completed!

Hello everyone!

My recital is now over, and I am now completely at a loss as to what to do with myself!
The week leading up to it was absolutely hectic;
Overall, I consumed A LOT of ice cream during the week,
I had my recital run through,
I performed in the studio recital,
Mommy came to visit,
so did my cousins Narae and Chang,
and so did Abers to audition,
then I was up until almost 2 the night before the recital writing program notes
(why do I ALWAYS think these things will take less time than they actually do?),
and then it was the RECITAL!!!

and now it's over. and I feel like the school year should be over...
but alas, it's only the beginning of the semester.
So. Odd.

Anyway, here are some photos from the week to remember  =)

As I am sure you are all expecting by now,
there was a lot of eating involved.
I mean, most of my family was here + Abers, 
so food was definitely going to be a big part of our week here together  haha
As soon as I picked up Mommy, Narae, and Chang from the airport,
we headed to a restaurant!
Yay Chuy's!
It was quite delicious, and we ate until we couldn't breathe.
Though we had to wait 30 torturous minutes to be seated,
 we all agreed that it was worth it  =)

Then, the next night, we stayed in as a big family,
and turned Gom Gook mentioned in this post, into a Dduck Gook!
It makes Amulet a little uncomfortable that the Gom Gook has been boiling for a whole week  haha
But I swear the stew gets better with each passing day!
And by the time it was turned into a Dduck Gook!!! 
Ahh.. heaven.
and yay for getting to taste Mommy's cooking again!
one giant, happy, goofy family  =)

And we also had lunch at La Madeleine.
We loved the atmosphere in this restaurant so much!
Such a chill, Frenchy-rustic environment  =)

And of course, we had a lot of ice cream.
and visited the Chocolate Bar again.
Their Snowberry ice cream = AMAZING.
chocolate covered strawberries made into ice cream form.
can't go wrong there!

Then, there was the recital!!
It was such a great experience because now I know that I can put together a recital in what I thought to be an incredibly short amount of time,
and also able to give a recital with only 1 lesson on more than a third of the program.
Usually, I have multiple lessons to get ready for a recital,
so I was quite terrified about not being ready enough with 1 lesson,
but now I know that I can do it!

But I have to say, BOY am I glad it's over!

but it was definitely an incredible experience, and actually a lot of fun!  =)
And I felt so much support from everyone who came to watch the recital!
Thanks so much guys! 
I feel so loved and blessed to know all of you!

After the recital with my roomy, Mommy, and Narae!

And I can't say how incredibly blessed I am to have Abers and David in my life.
Like I said, I ended up working on the recital program notes until 2 am,
and these two stayed up and made all of the baked goods for the reception for me!
I don't even know what I would have done without these two.
You guys are the absolute best, and I love you guys!!!   =D
hehe  such goofs  =)

To celebrate, we (of course) went to eat.  
Tofu village!
We came here last when Abers was here,
and that time, we ended up eating so much that all of us were seriously in pain...
This time, we ate quite a bit as well, but I think we were better about restraining ourselves  haha
It was so good though!
And it was that much better because Yvonne joined us!
She played the Beethoven and the Poulenc with me on the recital, 
and she played so wonderfully  =)
I'm so glad we got to work together this past semester!
such a lovely group  =)

Thanks again everyone who came out for all of your support!
and also for these lovely flowers!
They brighten up our apartment so much, and makes me smile every time I walk by them  =)
So beautiful...

Hope you all have a wonderfully happy week!  =)
Thanks for stopping by!