The Weekenders | Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

DSC_0009 copy

Which way do we go? Compasses were graffitied all over The Funk Zone. Were they supposed to lead us somewhere?

Welcome to Funky Town.  This weekend, I decided to drag mine and my boyfriend’s butts off of the couch and go for a little adventure in The Funk Zone.  The Funk Zone is Santa Barbara’s hot spot for trendy tasting rooms, art, and local businesses.

I mainly wanted to look at murals and go for a wine tasting, so we did just that.  As it was almost dusk when we arrived, we decided to walk around and look for wall murals.

The Funk Zone is a small industrial area just off of Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.  It’s small, but a lot of the artsy stuff is concentrated towards the State Street side.  We managed to find a whole wall of murals.  Here are a few of my favorites.

DSC_0024 DSC_0028 copy DSC_0033

As the sun started setting, we headed towards Anacapa Street, where most of the popular tasting rooms were located.  I had looked up a couple of places to go to and decided to try a place called Corks n’ Crowns.  However, the patio was packed with people.  We didn’t even venture inside.  It must be pretty good if many people were there, but I wasn’t looking to push through a large crowd.

Right next door to Corks n’ Crowns, however, was a tasting room that I thought used to be the Anacapa Dive shop – I used to take swimming lessons there.  Based on that, a pretty patio with twinkle lights, and The Burger Bus food truck parked in front, we were drawn towards the Municipal Winemakers tasting room.

DSC_0043

The inside was overwhelmingly shabby chic and there was a good-sized crowd – enough to show that the place was good and not enough to take up every seat in the house.

DSC_0047

When we went up to the bar, the staff was friendly and informative.  It was $12 for a flight of 5 wines.  And there were free crackers.   We took a glass and a basket of crackers, claiming a spot on the porch in front.  It was a really nice atmosphere and it never got super crowded.

DSC_0052

My boyfriend and I don’t know too much about wines, but it was a good opportunity to learn what I like and what I don’t.  It was also a good chance to catch up with him – it had been a few weeks since I’d seen him.  We also had some fun with my camera, making some light art photography as cars passed by.

DSC_0071

Lights and ghosts…

Simply put, if you’re ever looking for a chill adventure on a nice night in Santa Barbara, think about hitting The Funk Zone.

Advertisements

Rough, Rough Drafts | “Ode to Laundry Pile”

odetolaundrybasket

Here’s a rough, rough draft of something that’s been on my mind all week – laundry.  I’ve had a huge pile in my room since the holidays.  I set some time aside to do it this week, but every time I’ve checked our home’s washing machine, it’s been occupied.

I’ve also been itching to write something new and show it, even if it’s not perfect.  I’ve been working on some drafts of old short stories and working on some other stuff, so this blog has kind of gone by the wayside for the past two weeks.  There’s a draft I’m working on where the opening lines are just stumping me.

Drafts are never perfect, especially first drafts.  I can already see things I want to revise after I post, but I think I will always see things that I want to change, even if I get lucky enough to publish stuff.

So here’s to celebrating the rough, rough drafts and imperfection.

Ode to laundry pile

Monday, just a pair of underwear and a towel, slightly damp / Tuesday, my favorite jeans after a walk on the boardwalk / Wednesday, more underwear, more t-shirts, and a pair of socks / / It’s Sunday now and you’ve outgrown your laundry basket // I’m sorry – I’ll wash you soon.

The Resolution

IMG_0537

At the end of the day, there is only one resolution I need to keep.

Yesterday morning, I sat in the cramped dining room of my grandmother’s home with my cousins, Sam and JP.  We ate fried spam, vienna sausages, and eggs, sunny-side up on paper plates with flowers printed on the edges.

It didn’t feel like the last day of 2013 until they started talking about New Year’s Resolutions.

Sam, the older sibling, a little girl with long, dark hair, and a shy smile said that she wasn’t making any resolutions.

“Nobody ever keeps their resolutions, anyways,” she said.  She laughed.

“My New Year’s resolution is to help people come up with their resolution,” said JP, younger with the same dark hair and big eyes.

The two are no more than 10 years old.  When I was that age, I think I was coming up with resolutions to do better in school or maybe to eat less candy that year.  I don’t think I ever thought that I’d fail in my resolutions and I never thought of not making one because others failed in keeping their resolutions.

“What is your New Year’s resolution, Ate?” they asked, using the Filipino term of respect meaning “older sister.”

I laughed, spitting out some egg yolk.  They had just told me that they weren’t making any resolutions, but they expected me to make some and to keep them.

The last few years, I have made similar resolutions: to work harder in school, to spend more time with family friends, to exercise more, and to read more or do more things other than spend time on the computer.  I’ve never really kept track of them because I’ve been too busy with school and now that I’m out of school, these are things that I am constantly trying to get better at.

So what’s my resolution?  I told my little cousins that I wanted to apply to grad school.  I don’t know if that’s a real resolution.  But I think the last New Year’s Resolution I need to make is to try and be the best version of myself everyday.  To me, this means exercising as much as I can, being good person to my family and friends, eating yummy food, etc.

And, if I’m trying to be my best everyday, it means that every morning is a new chance to be better.  Life doesn’t renew itself once a year – it happens day by day.

Checklist for 2013

2014 is just around the corner! I feel as though September through November just came and went.  It is hard to believe that just a few months ago, I had just moved back home and had started my job hunt.

For the past few years at around this time of year, I have always had a clear objective for the next year: do well in school and maintain a balanced college life.  Right now, after the first “semester” of no school and no extracurricular activities for me, I have time to reflect on the past year and on certain goals that I haven’t achieved yet or want to achieve in 2014 (outside of crazy Christmas shopping and celebrations).

photo 2

The typical weekly schedule and checklist during my school days. Balanced? Ehh… Crazy? Of course.

As I think about everything that I’ve done this year, naturally, what comes up is what I haven’t done.  Specifically, I think about different items on my various reminder lists on my phone and different things I have been thinking of doing all year round but never got a chance to.

1. Open up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

For the past few months, I’ve been living on a new budget.  I’ve been saving half of my earning and then allocating the rest into different things I want to save up for – either spending money, food money, money for a trip I’m planning on taking… etc.  It’s been going well so far and I’ve been able to save up and stay within my budget.  Of course, the holidays are taking a toll on my savings, but I’ll just have to start saving hardcore when 2014 rolls around.  Along with saving up spending money and such, I’ve also been saving money to put into an IRA.  I’ve been debating which kind of IRA to do, even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with a Roth IRA and I have people who can help me decide.  But it’s something I’ve been procrastinating on and want to get done this week.

2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment

I had always had a doctor around (my dad) and I never got in the habit of getting a regular check-up because I never really needed one.  Being on my own in a sense in college made me realize that there are some things that I can’t really ask my dad about or want to (i.e. vaginal health, etc.) and that I should start getting regular check-ups.  I think in September I asked my dad who is a good doctor to go to and he gave me a name but I never called the office.  I probably won’t be able to go until January, but just getting it scheduled is all I want to do.

3. Finish my book

When I was in school, one of the things that I really wanted to do was read for pleasure.  Now that I’m done with it, I have read 2 books so far, The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I remember reading at a faster pace than 2 months per book when I was younger and of course, there were much less distractions like Netflix and Facebook to keep me from reading.  I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and am making it a goal to finish it with these next 2 weeks left in 2013.

So there’s the list of goals I have for the rest of 2013! While these goals aren’t really life-changing, I feel like they’ll propel me into a healthier, more financially conscious, and well-read new year.

Asides from that, it always feels nice to check something off of your list.

Let me know if there’s anything you want to get done before 2013 is over and thanks for reading!

Happy Holidays 2013!

HappyHolidaysTinselnLights2

It’s the holiday season! This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the cold weather that has hit Santa Barbara because it means I can wear my cozy sweaters and my heavier coats.  I also seem to appreciate hot drinks a lot more.  But I think what makes this one of the best times of year is the general feeling of unity and love that I get every time I hear a Christmas song or see lights on someone’s house.  It’s just a fun time.

There are times when this season can be stressful and commercialized or materialistic  (i.e. Black Friday, holiday products being forced onto shelves right after Halloween, Christmas shopping).  Christmas shopping has already been quite a challenge for me, especially since I’m trying to be more frugal with my money.  However, when I think about this side of Christmas, I remember that, not only do I like getting presents, but I also love giving them.  The idea behind gift-giving and thinking of others is quite wonderful in my opinion.  When it comes down to it, it’s really the thought that counts.  

So enjoy the hot chocolate, my favorite Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe’s, gingerbread cookies, enjoy your faith and enjoy giving to others.  I’ll probably come back with some updates on my Christmas shopping and gift ideas.  Thanks for reading and happy holidays :)   

I made the above Holiday GIF/E-Card using this tutorial from Blue Lightning TV.  I’m creating a work Christmas card and am testing out some different looks.  Love the idea for creating simple lights using lens flares, and the tinsel is really glittery and fun.  It worked out pretty well and I definitely learned some cool new techniques, but I’ll probably go for something more simple for the Noozhawk holiday card.

The Things That I am Thankful For

I have 10 minutes of Thanksgiving left, so here it goes.

I am so very blessed with many gifts.  A comfortable home, a college degree from a top university, and more than enough stuffed animals – enough to last through my children’s lifetimes.

But when I think of what I’m grateful for during the holiday season, I think of all the people that share my life with me.  I realized that I am most grateful for LOVE.

“Love” is a word that gets tossed around a whole bunch these days.  Sometimes we say “I love so-and-so” because it just feels good to say it, even though we don’t know if we mean it or not.  Or sometimes we just really have strong feelings for a certain song or certain person or certain whatever and cannot express it without the word “love” because I feel like “love” is the strongest kind of “liking” there is.

My definition of love has changed throughout my lifetime, so today, when I talk about being grateful for love, I think of times that people have shown love to me through their actions: my parents, brothers, best friend, boyfriend…

SAM_0185IMG_9280DSC_0022IMG_0304 DSC_0032

There are so many people who have given me a reason to be thankful everyday, and I want to show them my gratitude for that by being the best that I can be and for giving love back to them.

So, THANK YOU for reading :)  I hope everyone had a great day filled with family and with love.

How Not to Settle into a Routine

For the past two months, I’ve been working and watching lots of television.

Everyday, I wake up at around 7am, exercise and eat breakfast, get ready for work and arrive at around 10am.  I work at Noozhawk until 2:15pm and get to my daycare job at 2:45pm.  Then I get home at around 6pm and eat dinner and watch whatever I’ve been watching on Netflix.  Usually I’ll talk to my boyfriend on the phone at around 10 and then be asleep by 2am at the latest.  I’ve also been trying to get my computer turned off by 10pm so I can sleep by 11pm and not be too tired to wake up early and exercise.

For me, having a routine and having things to do for money is what I wanted all summer.  But, lately, I’ve been missing the non-routine of being at college.  Ok, I had classes and had regular meetings – but there was always something different going on besides those things.

There are things I have to do – I have to work and I have to exercise and I have to spend time with my loved ones.

But, I’ve been thinking about integrating some of these things into my week to shake things up and to possibly be more productive outside of work:

  • Reading – I recently interviewed a writer, Tracy Shawn, who reminded me that reading fiction is one of the best ways to get out of your own mind.  I’ve been trying to read every night before bed, and I’ve already read more in the past few days than I have in a long time.
  • Catching up with friends –  Grabbing lunch with a friend not only gets me in touch with other people in the area, but it’s also fun.  And you have to have lunch sometime – why not have some good company while you’re at it?
  • Yoga – I used to do some online yoga routines with friends in my final months of college.  I finally am starting to get back into that groove by taking a class at a yoga studio, and hopefully it can lead into my own home practice.
  • Writing – I eventually want to go publish fiction stories and it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything.  I’m getting to that place where I’m wanting to revise some of my drafts, so I’ve been taking some time to read them.

It may just look like another list of things that I need to do, but I don’t see it that way.  I want to do these things because they are enjoyable and they will help me improve myself.  I could watch television for the four hours that I’m home or I could go through Tumblr posts or whatever – but there’s no real quantifiable outcome.

It’s ok to do nothing and sometimes, it’s needed.  But I’m starting to think that if I’m at least a little bit productive in my personal life, I’ll be able to feel less stuck in a rut.

 

The Weekenders | Connecting with my Greater Good in a Hike for Haiti

DSC_0003

This weekend, I have learned again that things happen for a reason.

Back in September, my mom had asked all of us if we wanted to do a “Hike for Haiti” for our church.  I was reluctant because it was early on a Saturday (yes, I am that lazy).  However, her desire to do it outweighed my reluctance to get up early for one Saturday, so I registered along with her.

One month after registering, this past week before the hike, I was feeling pretty down.  I felt lazy and lonely with a short wick of patience.  When I have weeks like this, there really is no hope for me to get anything done – or to want to get anything done.  I will watch too much TV, eat too much ice cream, decide that I can exercise next week, and avoid contact with people, even my family members.

So, going to this weekend’s Hike for Haiti wasn’t really something I was looking forward to.  However, after a night out with my parents and family friends, I was kind of looking forward to going outside and being active – even if it meant just walking around.  I had also decided to cover the event as a Noozhawk intern, so it’d would be nice to write something afterwards and get something out there on the web.

As it turns out, the Hike was really a refreshing experience for me.

When we got to Manning Park, where the Hike began, one of the first people I ran into was my first childhood friend, Katie.  She was always a bright ray of sunshine in my life as a middle-schooler, and she’s still exactly the same person.  Ok, not exactly the same, but still as much infused with unicorns and candy in every fiber of her being as she was before.

I was able to meet a lot of people at the event thanks to Sr. Kathleen Patrice, who I’ve known since I was a little kid at elementary school.  The Hike was also a benefit for a local nonprofit called Destined for Grace and I was able to meet the founders and talk with them.  The organization has a lot of thrift shops in the area, those of which I love going to, and all the profits made at these thrift shops fund a school in Haiti.

And as the Hike started, my mom walked alongside some old friends and I was able to hang out with my brother and talk with him as we walked together. He and my dad were acting like goofballs the whole way there.  It was nice to be together.

DSC_0022

He’s walking!

DSC_0051

Just getting water from the well…

From the beginning of the week to the Hike, I felt like anything I did had no meaning.  Things would happen and no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could not change the outcome of things.  For example, no matter how hard I try to wake up early, it will never happen.  I could go to my parents’ prayer group, but I’m not close enough with everyone to make a difference.  I have also been brooding about things that are happening outside of my control, like where my boyfriend will go to med school.

Sometimes, in the words of someone who works with me, I was just having a hard time last week.  It’s not like anything has triggered these emotions (maybe hormones have), but I just feel them all at once.

I am not saying that going on the Hike for Haiti made my feelings go away, but something alleviated these feelings.  Action, and it didn’t benefit just me.  I decided initially to go on the Hike for my mom.  And I covered the event for my news organization because I didn’t think anyone in our community knew about this great event and about Destined for Grace.

Life is always a work-in-progress.  It will never be perfect and I will not always be happy.  But I think what I can take away from all of this is that action is always the best medicine.  Writing it all down, going on a walk, anything.  The less selfish the action is, the better.

I recently came across this quote that explained it perfectly for me.

Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.

– Ovid

So instead of using my strength to worry about myself, I need to remember to use it in the action of taking care of others.  That’s where my happiness lies.

DSC_0063

Me after the hike :) Thanks for reading everyone!

Messing around with Photoshop

I take a lot of pictures.  Especially of just random things.  Usually it’s because there’s something that catches my eye or the subject is something that I want to remember.  The pictures usually aren’t special, but I think that there are some easy ways to get the effect that I want.

This is one of those pictures.  It’s of my baby brother at his desk at home.

DSC_0041

He’s not really a baby anymore.  This is where I can usually find him after I get home from work – he is usually laughing at a Conan O’Brien video or scrolling through Reddit or banging the surface of the desk with his fist because of a bad play on League of Legends.  He does homework, too.  Our basset hound likes to hide under the desk.

For me, I don’t know what it is, but there is something really special about pictures that are blurred around the subject.  I love how some blurriness can make a picture special.  So I looked for a Photoshop tutorial on how to blur certain parts of an image, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

Here’s the edited image:

DSC_0041 copy

I was able to do the edit using Photoshop and this tutorial from Photoshop Essentials.  There’s a lot of steps, but the tutorial is very easy to follow if you’re a photoshop newbie like me.

So there’s the picture that I was looking for…

Ok, it’s not revolutionary or exciting, but it’s fun to be doing something creative on an uneventful Friday night.

Baking Adventures: Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies from “Ambitious Kitchen”

I’d like to introduce you all to some of the best snickerdoodle cookies ever:

DSC_0033

Last weekend, I tried out this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen for Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies, and the result were very appetizing!

I had planned to make these things a while ago, but it turned out that I didn’t have the right ingredients yet.  And I got lazy.  It happens.

The the recipe is again quite simple.  The most complicated part was browning the butter.  Yes I know, it’s really just heating up some butter, but I had never really browned butter on purpose.  I didn’t really know how long it should take or what oven setting to use.  In the recipe, it says that it takes a couple of minutes to brown 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) at a medium heat – I think it took me a little longer, maybe 5 or more minutes, but it’s not that big of a difference now that I’m writing it.

The recipe also calls for the dough to chill for at least three hours in the fridge and recommends an overnight chill for soft cookies.  I chose to do it overnight and I am happy I went that way.  The author kept saying that freezing the dough would not give the same results and I am not sure why.  Any idea anyone out there?

So, after chilling the dough in the fridge overnight, I baked them in the morning while watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix.

DSC_0031

DSC_0034They were super easy to work with and everything was set up in no time for baking.  The recipe says that you should bake between 8 and 11 minutes or until the edges were brown.  I always like my cookies a little under-baked, but I know my mom at least like a little crunch.  It was kind of hard to tell if they were getting brown on the sides, but at 8 minutes, they still looked a little raw.  After three more minutes, they looked done.  They had a really nice crackled look to them, thanks to the sugar/cinnamon coating.  They look a bit lighter than the ones on the recipe website, but the taste was great!  Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside – like good bread, except sweeter and cinnamon-ier.

A great recipe that I definitely recommend.  My brother, who is a cinnamon monster, said they were very good too, so that was cool.

If you want to see the recipe, click here.