Avocado Toast with Salmon Recipe…Mmmm…

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Wowsas! It’s been well over a month and I wanted this 100th post to be something worth mentioning…seriously though, there’s a lot percolating in this crazy world of things that I take seriously. But couldn’t think of anything to really tickle your fancy…so today we’re gonna be talking about what’s been #trending. Avocado Toast. Have you ever had this?

I’m not a big fan of toast but add avocado, smoked salmon and some cucumbers…I think we are on to something here! Some people mash up the avocado and add scrambled eggs. What do you add to yours? If you haven’t given a go, here’s my recipe…super easy and a great source of healthy fat. I got all of my items from Trader Joe’s.

Ingredients:

  • A slice of your favorite bread, toasted
  • Half of an Haas avocado, sliced
  • A few slices of smoked salmon
  • Thinly sliced Persian cucumbers
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes
  • A dash of EVOO
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Slice the toast in half (I like a diagonal cute)
  2. Top it off with the avocado slices, salmon, cucumbers, and tomatoes
  3. Add a dash of EVOO and add salt and pepper to taste.

Buen Provecho!!! Be sure to share this with your favorite person!!! Let me know how yours turns out.

Happy Mother’s Day! A tribute to my mom

Just the girls. We love mom.
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Mom and I…Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day and I hope you’re having a sweet day with your mom. I honor my mom everyday –especially when I am sick and want her soup, I call her and of course she makes it for me…(yes, even at this age), but today is Mother’s Day and I am very much so looking forward to sharing this day with my mom and my sisters (both moms too)! However way you’re celebrating, I hope your day is just perfect! I wanted to take a few minutes to share a little bit about my mom. I know you think your mom is the best, and I am sure she is. I’m certain my mom’s the best mom for me and for this, I am truly grateful.

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Family Photo: Mom, Dad and my siblings in North Carolina (1979). I was in her belly at this time.

Farmer’s daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, wife, daughter-in-law, mom, refugee, immigrant, widow, seamstress, student, entrepreneur, grandmother, she’s been many things, but of all things, she’s the one I get to call my mom. Consistent, kind, fierce, reliable, strong, resilient, dedicated, self-less, she’s all of these things and she’s taught me this through the example she leads. I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t share that she’s also damn crazy!

“Teacher, if Sammy no listen to you, you hit her!!!” Every year she’d always say this to my grade school teachers at each and every parent conference. Yes, every conference. Even my teachers would make fun of me. Yes, really! It was embarrassing and she didn’t care. I told her that if she kept saying that, someone would end up calling Child Protective Services…again, she didn’t care. I later asked why she’d do that and it made sense. She explained that she wanted me to know who is in charge when she was not around. A bit extreme, but I get it. She’s a strong personality and I’ve come to embrace this about her.

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1985 – Mom, my siblings and I at Almansor Park. We couldn’t get the tripod to work, so my brother had to take the photo. Mom wanted us to have a family photo.

When I am tested and have a bad day and pushed beyond my limits, I often think about my mom and I quickly get over it. By the time my mom was my current age of thirty-five, she’d left her home country, had five kids, and was a young widow. She never remarried and as a matter of fact, my paternal grandparents lived with us and she took care of them until the day they died. It wasn’t so much that it was her filial duties to “obey her father at birth, husband at marriage, and in-laws when a widow,” rather she wanted to ensure that her kids would be raised in a consistent, stable and safe upbringing; and we definitely had all of this. Though we didn’t have many fancy toys or clothes, we did have consistency and plenty of love to go around.

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Mom’s proudest title is Grandma. She’s got 7 grandchildren. Here she is with five of them.
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Just the girls. We love mom.

To make ends meet, she would sing us to sleep with her sewing machine. That machine was on 12-14 hours a day. She was a seamstress and later an entrepreneur, only to lose her business to the LA Riots. A true Opportunist and survivor, she was resourceful and the common theme of her journey is that she’s relentless, keeps going and just does. And as she keeps going, she goes with all heart. Her English is limited, but she’s got a few phrases down. These are her most common: “Hello,” “Please,” “Eat,” “Thank You,” and “I am Sorry” –I’ve seen first hand how these phrases go a long way. She’s always instilled the importance of acknowledging others, showing manners, expressing gratitude, and being accountable and saying sorry when you’re wrong. I am forever grateful for all that she’s taught me and for how she continues to teach me.

My mom, she’s the best mom for me and for this, I am truly grateful.

Thank you Mom!

 

 

Cinco de Mayo Carnitas y Margaritas por favor!!!

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! The perfect holiday excuse to celebrate and party, also known as day where amatuers rage.

Cinco de Mayo calls for Carnitas and Margaritas! And today that’s what we’re talking about…carnitas and margaritas! I am so excited to share with my one and only go to, fail proof Carnita recipe.  This is the only carnita recipe I’ve ever used (gracias Cyndi for sharing your recipe with me) and did I also mention? It’s baked, paleo and whole 30 approved, and no oil required! (yup…none of that deep friend oil splattering stuff!) AND it only requires 4 ingredient items!

But first, let’s our drink game on….I am leaving this to the pro, my friend Deborah. Not only is she clever, she’s an amazing host and quite the cocktail maker (can I call you that, Deb?)…check out her muy delicisoso recipes aqui: Clever Little Madam’s Margarita Bar All of her concoctions are always a hit!

To absorb the tequila, these carnitas can be served with tortillas, rice, beans, or in a salad (my preference).
Here’s the recipe:

Carnitas

  • 4 limes, juicedimg_0770
  • 6-8 garlic cloves (1/2 head of garlic)
  • 5 lbs. of pork butt roast or pork shoulder, cut into large chunks (I prefer to get this from Costco or my local Sprouts)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a blender, combine lime juice, garlic and salt.
  3. Place pork and garlic/lime marinade in roasting pan.  Allow to sit for 30 mins.
  4. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 2 – 2.5 hours (until pork is tender).
  5. Remove foil and pan juices from roasting pan.
  6. Return to oven for an additional 30 minutes to brown, turning pork, half way through
  7. You for additional caramelization, add a can of coke or juice of two oranges.

Buen Provecho.

Running into the Ex!!!

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image source: CNN
Oh, you know…that moment. That moment where you run into your ex and you need to immediately make some executive decisions. Have you ever run into the ex? What’d you do? “Run, Forrest, RUN!!!” OR hurry up, get your disheveled self together, quickly apply the lip gloss and concealer, double check that the brows are on fleek, work that plastic smile, put on a show and subtly let him know that since your break up, you were on last month’s cover of Sports Illustrated, discovered the cure for cancer, traveled the world and are working on your 4th start up.  What do you do? Well, it depends.

My roll dog and I were out, minding our own business, having fun, and then it happened. Right there…as we were ready to complete our weekend hike. Are you effin’ serious? Right when almost reached the peak of the hike, he and his wife were right there. Yeah, apparently, there was no other place to hike that day. He had to choose the same place as us.

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My sweet puppy Ace knows a thing or two about hiding in shrubs. Ace, where are you? What are great hider you are.
The trail was narrow and there was no avoiding and the shrubs were too bare to hide behind in, so…we did what our instincts said, we avoided him like the plague and bolted down that mountain faster than a rolling boulder! We ran so fast, I was going to puke but it was all worth it because they never knew that we were there and we avoided each other. PHEW!

As you may have guessed, they ended on terrible terms and as to prevent any unnecessary drama, we did what we did. Have you ever thought about what you’d do if you ran into an ex? What have you done or what would you do? I got to thinking…here are my three simple rules:

  1. Plan Ahead. Anticipate the unexpected. Plan ahead and know your response. Think of the worst case scenario and how you’d react so that you can be as composed as possible. You may have a run in. So how would you react? Think about it. If things ended badly where he stalked you, smeared you, and if there was some restraining order involved and he just was not nice, yes…avoid him. No need to be mean and give any slanted stares, just move on.However if things ended amicably, there’s no need to bolt.Other times running into an ex can be a bit more expected (say if you both still share mutual friends) and are invited to a wedding. If this is the case, don’t be surprised. Know your response, and oh…Avoid the alcohol (even if it’s an open bar)!
  2. KISS -not as in kiss, but…Keep It Short & Simple. Yes, you’re likely wondering how your once shared Fido is doing, but don’t ask. You don’t have shared custody anymore and there’s no sense in revisiting the given. Or you may feel compelled to let him know that you’re now an Olympic athlete and won the gold. There’s no need to upsell yourself or pretend like you care. Don’t reminisce.  Oh, and speaking of KISS, there’s no need to do that awkward handshake (you’re not business partners), or that cold 3 hand pats on the back I- don’t -want- to -hug -you- hug. Keep things short and simple and end conversation as quick as possible.
  3. Respectful and Courteous – Yes, you may harbor resentment and you never got the closure you wanted, but that’s all in the past now. No need to bring it up and revisit the past, it’s done. Act nice (just for these two minutes–remember tip #2). It’s not hard.

Work Hard, Play Hard

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Decadent food (lots of it), spirits, massages, golf, just the right amount of sun, lots of rest and relaxation… we were able to share some much needed quality time. Yes, this is what Tony (and the other top producers of his company) were awarded and because he’s my fiance, I was able to share in this experience with him. Insert hashtag blessed, hashtag lucky… right here — #blessed #lucky, ah and heck #winning!

We shared a very well organized trip hosted by his company, and yes while the above listed is something to talk about, the way in which his company continuously invests in personal leadership development, sharing in the experience among other Power Producers, hearing the keynote speaker, are both impressive and assuring. I left this trip impressed, motivated, and ready! I rarely have proud moments, but this past weekend, I had one of those unique experiences. Yes, proud. I am a half glass full kind of a gal and spend most of the time focused, working on, obsessed on filling the emptiness. Okay, sometimes I harp a lot.

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Congratulations!

Being together for as long as we have, it’s easy to get hung up on all the bang ups that comes with his line of  work…the unknown, ever-changing guidelines, regulations, and unique circumstances of each client, the incessant texting, emails, stress, pandemonium (yes, even an anxiety attack which led to an ER trip)…it’s a part of mortgage lending and sales territory. To see Tony go up on stage, it was not about this trip and this moment per se. To me, it was about all hang ups, the times he felt paralyzed to have a pipeline of business that he couldn’t close due to the lack of infrastructure, the doubt and the adversity. When foreclosures were #trending, I used to have to tell him, “Just trust in this journey, or move on.” Saying this was easy. It was having conviction in this that was hard. It’s been a ride, and this moment wouldn’t have been made possible without the unwavering support of our dear family and friends who always kept us (him) going. What made this past weekend so sweet was that it was about the journey that led to this very moment. I know that this is just the start of many.

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Keynote Speaker Carey Lohrenz…what a message!

Meeting, listening and sharing in the experience of the keynote speaker, Carey Lohrenz left an indelible impression. Towering the stage at over 6 feet tall, well spoken, funny, relate-able and oh…and just the first female F-14 Tomcat pilot, she’s knocked down walls and spoke about fearless leadership and of the many takeaways, she shared about the importance of not waiting for perfection and how just doing is part of the process. (yeah, you had to be there to feel the umph!!!).

Another treat…something that I would have never checked out on my own, dinner was hosted Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. We got to meet with pilots and hear about their experiences in their service.  Those jets and copters are no joke! One can lift two hummers, oh and to see the guns and where the ammunition was loaded…it was quite a treat!

Thank you, Prime Lending… what a great example of an organization that believes in investing in personal development! Oh, and Thank you, Tony. Well done indeed!

Summing up Dim Sum (and then some)

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The weekend is soon here and it’s time to think about brunch, Dim Sum brunch that is. Dim Sum translates to touching the heart and is also referred to as “yum cha” which means to drink tea. So, saying “Let’s go dim sum” is the same as saying, “Let’s go yum cha (drink tea).” It’s also known as brunch time where people gather for Chinese like tapas, nibble and talk story. What I really appreciate about dim sum is that babies, elderly and everyone in between… all love dim sum. It pleases the masses which attests to how it’s great for virtually all taste buds!

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Dim Sum love starts at a young age, just ask Ayla! She loves pork buns!!!

Here’s what you can expect…

Enter a large room, and in traditional setting, you can find servers (typically women) pushing carts of delicious tapa-like dumplings, buns, or dishes that have been freshly steamed or deep fried.  Recently, more restaurants have done without the dim sum carts and provide a menu where you can check off what you want. I prefer the latter because it’s more fresh and less of a commotion.

There is so much to choose from and because it can be somewhat overwhelming, I have listed my top 10 dishes (I’d venture to say that these are commonly favored by most).

Photos courtesy of Lunasia Dim Sum House

Last week, we celebrated Tony’s birthday at a Dim Sum brunch with our family at one of my favorite places, Lunasia Dim Sum House. In answering questions, I thought I’d share with you some dim sum etiquette tips and pointers so that you know what to expect when you dim sum.

  • There will be a tea pot and tea cups. You never serve yourself first. You serve those to the left first and then to the right. If there is an elder, you deviate from this rule and serve the eldest first. You don’t need to serve everyone, just those within arms reach.
  • Somebody else will likely also serve you tea. When they serve you tea, as a way of thanking them, you use your index and middle fingers (using one hand only) and gently apply about 3 taps to the table (by your tea cup) as it nears the end of your pour. This dates back to how emperors would thank others when they were served tea.
  • This is a family style meal, so be mindful. There is plenty to go around and you can easily order more. Don’t stock pile and don’t hoard your favorite dumpling or dish. Ensure that everyone has a share.
  • Remember, you don’t have to wait for dessert, so when those egg tarts or jello comes around, go for it. Dessert is not last and it’s whenever you want it to be.
  • Again, this is family style…BE MINDFUL. Don’t double dip or reach across to grab the piece that is speaking to you. Grab the piece that is closest to you and do it with a community pair of chopsticks (if available), or do it in one gesture. Refrain from picking at the dish.
  • If there is a lazy Susan, look before you spin as to ensure that nobody is in the middle of serving themselves.
  • Mustard and chili are supplied at the table, add to taste. I prefer asking for fresh cut chili and soy sauce (this is a common request), just ask.
  • It is customary to leave standard tip amount as dim sum is considered full service.

Enjoy!!

Dine out? There are notes on you! 10 Common Sense Dining Tips You Need to know.

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Have you ever wondered how or why your server may appear to know a little more about you and your quirks? Why some guests may receive preferential treatment and you don’t? It’s not a mistake. There are notes on you! That’s right, there are notes on you. Your server knows more about you than you think. You know…the important things: good/ bad tipper, high maintenance, annoying, never happy, difficult, oh…yes, and then there’s the really important stuff …your food allergies, how many different mistresses you have and who is actually your real spouse. When my server told me this, my eyes popped out and I blurted, “Genius! This is just GENIUS!!!”

He shared some of the notes of actors in Los Angeles and of the difficult guests next to us. Then he showed me the notes on me. Phew. I am good. Of course, I am good! I was once a server!!! I promised him that I would not reveal the name of this establishment, but it’s for a popular restaurant group here in LA (they also have locations nationwide). Did I mention? These notes follow you.

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Having been in the restaurant industry (I waited tables in college), we’ve had many discussions with servers and for the most part, they want their guests to enjoy their time. I’d like to share my top 10 Common Sense Dining Tips with you so that you can maximize your dining experience:

  1. Double check your check. I was always surprised at how often guests would hand over their credit card without looking at their check.  Don’t do that. Your server can be balancing a dozen tables at once and can accidentally hand you the wrong check, unintentionally charging you the wrong amount. And yes, while this example is an accident, a fellow server I once worked with would consistently “accidentally” add a few dollars to the tip amount. Be sure to double check what your credit card charge is once it’s posted to your account.
  2.  It’s HOW you ask. Do you think your server wants to run to the person who is snapping their fingers at them? No. I used to love it when my guests would start a request with, “When you have a minute, do you think you can…?” It’s easier to be nice. Be nice.
  3. It’s your server’s job to be nice to you. The nicer they are, the higher the likelihood that they may earn more money. They are trained to smile. They’re not hitting on you. Don’t flirt with your server. This objectifies them and makes for an awkward experience.
  4. Upselling, it’s a part of the game. If you know what you want, you won’t fall into this trap. Know what you want.
  5. There’s a schedule to things. You want to know when those eggs in the Cobb salad you’re craving were boiled? Just ask. Sure your server may lie and say daily, but an honest server may tell you that it was boiled last Monday, de-shelled, thrown in a large tub of water with about a hundred other eggs…yes, all on Monday!
  6. A person’s favorite sound is their name. Your server usually introduces him/ herself by their name or they have their name tag on. It’s pretty nice to be called by your name and you’d be surprised how this goes a long way.
  7. Karma. Servers believe in karma and don’t forget. A fellow server never forgot how he was belittled, so when the rude guest returned with his colleagues, he made sure that his credit card “didn’t go through,” and asked, “Do you have another form of payment.” Oy Vey!

  8. There’s a Sequence of Service. It’s annoying. Servers don’t like repeating it, customers hate hearing it…it’s part of the experience. Find a way to deal with it.
  9. The Secret Shopper. Most restaurants have a secret shopper program. Which explains why your server may be rigid. That…or they have no personality.
  10. It’s not your server’s fault. Or is it? Most mistakes are administrative (entered incorrectly) or the cook, or food runner made a mistake. It’s not a perfect system and many hands are part of this process.