5 things that I am grateful for

holiday pic
November 2018
  1. My family. I love being back at home and enjoying the company of my family, including the new additions such as my niece. I’ve been home for everyone’s birthday this year and it feels good to not have missed a beat like before when I was in school in Boston.
  2. My friends. This year I have met a number of new people that have been so generous with their love and time. I do not take it for granted as it restores my faith in humanity. Also, I am always grateful for old friendships that have continued despite the test of time.
  3. My hobbies. I heard someone at work say “we work so we can afford our hobbies.” I have to agree this is true for me because some of my hobbies are actually quite expensive such as tennis, kickboxing, and eating delicious food. However, I will say there are certain hobbies that can be as cheap as buying a pencil such as writing and drawing which I also do enjoy.
  4. My work. Without my job, it would be hard for me to afford the material things that I need/want. The key word is material because money can’t buy peace, love, or happiness. I am also grateful that I find my job fulfilling by helping to save lives. I have also been volunteering my time to high schools and a tutoring program so I am happy that my work schedule allows for that.
  5. My blog. I love that I have created this outlet for my creativity and that it has received so much support from all of you who frequent this space. I am grateful to have such an opportunity and do intend on sharing my creativity even more.

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to share your gratitude list. 🙂  ❤

Houston trip review

They say everything is bigger in Texas and that definitely holds true even for the food. My best friend is Vietnamese so she oriented to the best place for pho (soup). I have had plenty of pho in my life but this was on another level as it was served with a bone full of bone marrow. One thing that is also big in Houston is the graffiti which I totally had to pose with throughout the trip.

Secondly, the events were popping that weekend. On Friday, we attended an African fashion show held on a hotel rooftop which was very cool. As expected, those in attendance were dressed to the max and I did my best to do the same. As part of the show, different well dressed were nominated from the show (including myself). Surprisingly, I actually won best dressed. Thank you mom and dad for good taste lol.

On Saturday, we enjoyed some wonderful South African food from a restaurant in Houston known as Peli Peli in the Galleria mall. I love lamb and the lamb did not disappoint although the portions were small. Apparently, the portions are bigger for dinner as compared to lunch which is what we had opted for. They also have a wonderful chicken liver dish which was surprisingly tender and juicy. Afterwards, we joined my best friend’s coworkers for a bicycle bar hopping event which was basically a bar crawl except you ride bikes to and from each bar. We were fashionably late mainly due to me so we met everyone at the final bar which is a baseball themed bar called Eighth wonder which had fun games like corn hole and several food trucks to peruse from. We chose to try some pulled pork ribs with fries and jalapenos that were actually quite a hit (Pictured below). To close the night, we opted for Korean Karaoke which is much easier than normal karaoke because you get a private room for you and your group instead of having to sing in front of random strangers. A fun night of belting the wrong notes was had, so much so that I low key lost my voice for a bit.

On the final day of the trip, Sunday, we had tacos for breakfast and actually went to church. The church was a very progressive church and the sermon series was about science and religion. As such, they held a panel that Sunday with different church members that work in the scientific field. They had an online forum where those in attendance could send questions for the panelists to answer which was very cool. Afterwards, I had a while before my flight so we decided to venture into Ikea as I had never been there before despite the fact that Boston has Ikea as well. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the furniture there is actually very affordable and very functional.

This was actually my second trip to Houston. Last time, I was there was 2016 and I hope it won’t take me 2 years to make another trip there. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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I want to start by saying that every autobiography of a successful person always emphasizes the value of hard work. I think it is somewhat implied in this summary especially in my first thing that I learned from Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes. So let’s dive right in.

  1. Check yourself. Recognize what is holding you back in life. Are you comfortable in your unhealthy lifestyle where you put work first and yourself last? Do you not spend enough time with your family? Are you in unhealthy relationships just because you are afraid of being alone? Shonda shares that she was pretty antisocial and was more comfortable working with her imaginary characters, with her favorite being Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t until her older sister told her that she is afraid to say yes to things that she decided to dedicate a whole year to saying Yes. Throughout that year, she grew as a mother, friend, work mate, and most importantly as an individual.
  2. Learn how to say NO. Essentially, say Yes to saying No. Before her Year of Yes, Shonda admits to finding it difficult to saying no to people. When people realize you don’t know how to say no, they start to take advantage of you. For example, think about the person that takes on extra work because everybody knows that he/she won’t say no. Don’t be that person. Learn how to set boundaries or you will find yourself drowning and the person responsible for the drowning will be you. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes: Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm- Penny Reid.
  3. Know yourself and never compromise who you are for anyone. I do not want to ruin the book for anyone but I think it is common language that Shonda has not birthed any children. However, she does have 3 children. Like Oprah, she doesn’t really believe in marriage. Despite societal norms, she has come to accept that she doesn’t need a man in the picture to have kids or even to raise them. I am personally very option to adoption of children so I was glad to read about a woman who shares similar unconventional values.
  4. Know what love means to you, including self-love. Yes, we should all love our bodies but what if we are in an unhealthy state? Should we not love our bodies enough to treat them as much care as we can. Shouldn’t we understand our unhealthy coping habits like eating lots of ice cream or drinking excessively, etc. Yes, I think a little bit of tough love can be self-love (like saying no to that extra piece of cake when our bodies are screaming yes). If somebody didn’t treat you right, you are quick to think they probably don’t love you. So when we are quick to trash our body, then we should recognize that we are not practicing self-love.
  5. Find your gladiators and love the hell out of them. Your gladiators are the people that fight for you, root for you, and also put you in check when needed. They want nothing but the best for you. They do not limit you to who you are now. They see the best possible version of yourself and push you to strive for that. They know your weaknesses and strengths yet they want you to face your fears. And if you are their gladiator, then you do the same. Be their Olivia Pope, without the being mistress to the president part.

Thank you for reading. May you say yes to the things that scare you. May the year of yes transform into a lifestyle as it did for Shonda Rhimes, the queen of Thursday night television with Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal under her belt. 🙂 ❤

Trip to Los Angeles review

 

  1. The people. I think no matter where you go, the people always play a major role in how much you enjoy being in a place. Luckily for the city of angels, the people are pretty nice. I will say the people in Orange County are even nicer and I am not just saying this because my friend lives there. I didn’t see any fights break out when we are enjoying the nightlife so I am going to take a guess that people are also pretty laid back as they are typically described.

 

  1. The food. Man oh man. The food was amazing. I tried street food, restaurant food, and food trucks. None of the food I had in California disappointed me even a single bit. I had so much Mexican food (tacos, divorciados egg breakfast), that I should probably be able to speak Spanish by now. I seriously had the best taco of my life from a food truck at a food market (Smorgasburg, LA) and it was a pork taco, which I don’t typically eat (unless we’re talking about bacon). I have been to markets in other cities before: Boston, Nairobi, and Cape Town. I will say the Smorgasburg and the market in Cape Town are tied in my heart (mainly because South Africa really knows how to do burgers). See pictures below.

 

  1. The events. My friend and I had come up with a pretty solid itinerary of events that we wanted to go. The Friday that I arrived we did a club/bar crawl in Downtown L.A. where we got to experience some really cool spots, including some clubs/bars that were underground and were renovated bank vaults. The second night we went to an African club that had an awesome DJ that kept playing the best afro-beats all night long. On the third night we ended up at a Jamaican party and later at a Kenyan party with DJ Fully Focus being the headliner. Both events were really cool and how we ended up at some of these events was divine intervention as they weren’t part of our itinerary. So moral of the story is, definitely have a plan but be also open to other experiences when they arise. See pictures below.
  1. The places. If you’ve ever watched any shows or movies set in Los Angeles, you already know it’s a beautiful city. What stood out to me is that despite being such an urban place, there is so much natural scenery for your eyes to behold. From mountains to the palm trees (btw the palm trees there are so majestically tall), your eyes never lack stimulation. We went on a hike near the Hollywood sign and it was very scenic. We also went to Venice Beach, which not only had a beautiful landscape but also a lot of opportunity to people watch. What also impressed me about Venice Beach is that there a lot of activities to do like renting a scooter, skateboarding or watching other people skateboard, exercising or just enjoying the ocean. Lastly, we also checked out the Hollywood walk of fame, which was pretty cool because there are a lot of people on that street (especially tourists) so you really get to experience the big city feel. Also, I got to take a picture with Michael Jackson and Adam Levine’s star because who doesn’t love these pop stars.
  2. The weather. If L.A. wasn’t so expensive, I would move here just because of the weather. No humidity, no snow, and very little rainfall. The place is basically a desert terrain but it doesn’t feel to dry. I will say that their oceans are pretty cold though as compared to the Gulf Shores. All in all, L.A. probably has the best weather in the U.S.  Until next time, L.A.ers. Thank you for a wonderful time.  🙂 ❤

New Olreans ft Essence fest trip

I am a visual person so the best way to show someone New Orleans is through an in-person tour or in pictures. My brother and I went on Saturday for Essence Fest and intended on coming back that same night. However, New Orleans has some magic and a family friend of ours who was there for a girls trip invited us to join them that night. Eventually, it was too late to go home so we crashed at their beautiful air bnb and did leave until Sunday evening. I didn’t take any pictures at the concert because my phone was dying but just to break it down for you: Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, Brandy, Xscape, and Mary J. Blige all had really awesome performances. Without further ado, let’s get to the photos.

Food:

 

Day Activities : click arrow for next picture in slideshow

 

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Art:

 

Let me just say that the food in New Orleans never disappoints. Definitely, a must visit place if you’re ever in the Gulf Coast area of the U.SA. And yes I do believe in magic….New Orleans magic 🙂 ❤

Taking Stock: June

home store pic
At Home Decor, June 2018

The last time I did a taking stock post was April which is a different season so it just makes sense to do one for the summer season we are now in.

Making: my bedroom prettier with each run to furniture and home décor stores. My bedroom theme is mainly black and white although my bedding colors are mainly dark blue and white. I totally revamped my room this year with new furniture, carpet, and bedding. I wouldn’t call myself an interior designer but I do know what I like. So far, I am happy with the look.

Eating: is not as healthy as it usually is. I blame this on the summer season because it inspires you to eat out a lot because who wants to be inside during good weather. My weakness is the Maui Wowie pizza from mellow mushroom which has jerk chicken, pesto, banana peppers and thick crust. I actually ate this pizza twice this week so pray for me y’all.

Drinking: Ice pops. Another summer weakness is flavored ice pops which I eat every day because they’re so good for calming down the body and brain (at least that’s how I justify my intake). Luckily the brand I like is only sold in the summer so this won’t be a yearlong thing.

Reading: I can’t make this up by Kevin Hart. I know he’s cheated both of his wives but my favorite non-fiction books to read are those written by comedians. After not being able to get Trevor Noah’s book at the library, I thought Kevin Hart’s book would suffice for now. So far it’s actually an interesting book.

Playing: lots of tennis. This week I played tennis three days for a total of 4 hours of play time. This week I discovered muscles I didn’t even know I had when I played an older lady (maybe 30-40 years older than me) and she whooped me which goes to show that tennis is a lifelong sport. However, the sunscreen I’ve been using is causing breakouts on my face so I am ditching it and trying Aveeno SPF 70. I hope this works.

Creating: memories with my family. My younger brother graduated in May and we’re happy that he’s now started his career. My little niece is getting smarter and bigger every day. We are all hoping that she’ll be left handed so she can be an undefeatable tennis play (and by we, I mean me haha).

Wishing: that everyone who is hurting in the world, may find peace within themselves and their greater purpose on this earth. There’s entirely too much loss and pain in this world.

Enjoying: discovering new music. I am a soundcloud type of girl and I credit most of my musical discoveries to the app. Yesterday, I discovered a new Indian artist known as Pav Dharia and I am so excited to listen to his full album.

Liking: positive energy. It’s always refreshing to meet people who have great vibes and resonate with your wavelength. I am happy to have found some of these people.

Wondering: what to wear today to a dinner my family has been invited to by a fellow Kenyan. I am thinking an African dress at the moment.

Loving: my current work life balance. I am blessed to have a job where I am not constantly stressed every day and to be able to have the time to enjoy life outside of work (i.e. tennis, vacation, and free weekends).

Hoping: my friends in Kenya are able to get me a book by a Kenyan author (namely Drunk by Jackson Biko).

Marveling: at how time is flying by. I can’t believe half the year is almost over. So much can happen in a day let alone 6 months. I am happy that so far, this year has been promising.

Wearing: my night gown because my official night clothes have either been bought for me by my mom are or “borrowed” from my mom.

Noticing: that romantic love does have seven stages: Stage 1: Appreciation. Stage 2: Infatuation.     Stage 3: Attraction. Stage 4: Impression. Stage 5: Conviction. Stage 6: Reaffirmation. Stage 7:         Commitment. I noticed this from watching an Indian movie, Dil Se, last night which draws from     the seven stages of love in its story.

Knowing: that life is full of ebb and flows (up and downs) which is what makes the experience so interesting. As Forrest Gump would say, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Thinking: that music is the spice of life. It truly makes life more enjoyable, more bearable, more relatable.

Feeling: at peace. Namaste fellow readers. May peace be with you. 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why travel is so important

mom and dad
Mom and Dad, 1987

I would like to preface this post by saying that if it wasn’t for travel, I wouldn’t exist. My parents are both from different parts of Kenya and if my dad never traveled for a work assignment to my mom’s area, then my father would not be Mr. Wangondu. On this glorious fathers’ day, I am grateful that Mr. Wangondu is my dad as I call him and I thank him 100x for making that first move to travel to Ukambani and that second move of choosing my mom as his wife. So without further ado, this back story leads me to my first point.

  1. Travel can be important, not only in finding love but also in assessing it. My father and mother as pictured in the photo above took a trip to visit a long lost uncle during their first year of dating. As my dad tells the story of this treacherous trip of not knowing exactly where they were going, he makes sure to emphasize that the trip established that my mother was the woman for him. The way someone handles being in a different place and a long journey can tell you a lot about them. As such, it is important to take trips with your potential mates.
  2. It gives you a wider view of nature. The world is an oyster as they say and so you have to travel in order to see the full picture of this oyster. There are so many wonders of the world, some famous and others non-discovered. For example, visiting a world wonder like the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa was such an exhilarating experience as it made me realize that mother nature has so many curves and crevices. Like really mother nature’s body is like woah when you really think about it (Cue Maya’s- my love is like wo).
  3. It allows you to experience the diversity and similarity of humanity. If you travel throughout the world, there will be of course so many new faces and things to see. Through this diversity of others, you will probably also notice what makes us similar. For example, I brought samosas to work the other day and one of my co-workers mentioned that it’s so interesting that all cultures have some sort of meat filled pastries (i.e. burritos, wontons, pizza bites, samosas, etc). I had never thought about that but I definitely have to agree as when I was in South Africa, I noticed that they also eat corn meal dishes like Sima in East Africa and like Grits in the U.S.A.
  4. It inspires you with new ideas. If you think about all the historical travel figures such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and Mansa Musa, there was a trade of not just items but also of ideas between their countries and the lands they traveled to (not found since that would insinuate that they were lost). Similarly, when you travel you learn about different foods, fashions, and language while also sharing the same with the people who interact with you.
  5. This may vary but travel can also to lead to higher spirituality or appreciation of life. First of all, being able to travel is a physical and financial blessing as everyone is not able to do so. I am definitely a water sign because something about being closer to water really relaxes me. This might happen to everyone but I also sleep like a baby after spending the day swimming in the ocean. The best part of traveling is discovering what lights up your soul, for some it is nature while for others it may be tall buildings or even other humans. The only way to know is, yeah you guessed it, travel.

I wish you all the best in your current and future travels. As my brother likes to say, may the people say that you veni, vidi, vici (came, saw, and conquered- in a non Columbus type of way). 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why I love the South

Beach with kayla
Beach with Kayla, June 2018
  1. We have great beaches here. Hello Gulf coast of Mexico! Despite BP trying to ruin our shine with an oil spill, we cleaned that up and our water is pretty clean in most places. Also our beaches are sandy not rocky like beaches in other places. We’re not California but we still have some pretty great waves for surfing plus our water is pretty warm in the summer.
  2.  Food like cheesy grits, corn bread, and spicy crawfish! I’ve never seen people eating crawfish anywhere else but in the south. And I am not sure I would even want to because other places butcher southern food. This brings me to my next point: Iced tea.
  3. I’ve had Iced tea up north and it tastes like the person who made it doesn’t know love. Because why else would you make sweet Iced tea that isn’t actually sweet. To anyone reading this that makes Iced tea the northern way (putting sugar after the tea is cooked, stop!). Sweet Iced tea becomes sweet by putting sugar when the tea is boiling so the sugar can actually melt! It’s not rocket science by any means.
  4. Most people are actually sweet just like our tea. People in the neighborhood will actually say hello to you without even knowing you. Older people also love using the words “sweetheart” and “baby” to refer to younger people. Obviously there are also people who might be racist but to be honest those people are everywhere, not just in the south.
  5. The easy going vibe as we don’t like to rush people. Up north, the New York minute is said to be 50 seconds. In that case, the southern minute is probably a good 120 seconds. Cause best believe you’re not going to walk up into a counter and be rude to the attendant. Most southern people are raised better than that which you can tell by the way refer to their elders as m’am and sir.

If you are southerner, please share what you love most about the south.   If you’re not, please make it a point to visit this land of fried chicken and collard greens one day! 🙂 ❤