Sheet Pan Nachos

sheet pan pollo asado nachos

We opted for dinner in, rather than going out for Cinco de Mayo. Our usual tradition is to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant but, since we had been eating out (what felt like) a lot this past week, we thought a dinner at home would be better.

So I grilled up some corn and then some pollo asado. Combined with other toppings like queso con salsa, jack cheese, green chilies, black beans, cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime, we ended up with a sheet pan of nachos.

I love this because it’s fun to come up with your toppings and assemble it all. A few minutes in a hot oven really brings it together. And it’s nice and fun/messy to eat.

Five things for the week

the eyes

1. Nesting

I think it might be time to get an interior designer to come look at our home and give us some ideas. My wife and I are definitely not decorators but we want to find ways to make out home more… well, more like a home. It’s all very utilitarian right now.

2. This coming week

Another school term begins (Monday) and work looks to be ramping up in intensity again (which I welcome). I found a pretty good rhythm and balance to getting work done, mostly making sure that I take the time to schedule work on an actual calendar. So, instead of just meetings, I have blocks of work reflected on there. The key, of course, to being successful here to to stick to it! If you have 45-minutes blocked off for a task, do the task. It requires discipline but when done right, it’s super effective for me.

3. Read

Workers Love AirPods Because Employers Stole Their Walls I like reading articles on the modern workplace, especially those that talk about dynamics and issues related to layouts. I found this fascinating because, even though we know why people wear their headphones in working environments, it’s still a more complex behavior than we’re giving it credit.

As a Mexican-American Woman, I Have a Few Thoughts on Cinco de Mayo. It Could Be So Much More I don’t have anything to add to this; I just think it’s important to read.

4. Watched

Street Food Netflix sure is going full st(r)eam on food shows, am I right? Lame pun aside, I did appreciate this series for the focus on street food vendors and their lives. It wasn’t following a host around who was trying different foods, which I find (that format) extremely tiring now. I did enjoy seeing Nikki Tran pop up in the Vietnam episode. I would love to see Nikki Tran get her own series; we could learn a lot from her.

Brené Brown: the Call to Courage Before watching this, I had no idea who Brené Brown was. I hadn’t heard of her TED talk nor her books. I watched this to fill some time between ending work and starting to cook dinner. The message is clear. I don’t disagree with any of it. It’s difficult and it’s very genuine. It’s a message that more people need to hear. I’m glad I watched.

Rogue One I re-watched this (May the Fourth be with you) and I have to say, they got a lot of things right with this. Everything from the look and the feel to the technology they showed (not crazy new stuff that would be out of place in episodes IV-VI), to the characters not being over the top. It’s just all really well done.

Game of Thrones, s.8, ep.4 – This show has it’s issues (but I like it anyways) and I had many with this particular episode. I didn’t enjoy this; in fact, it felt like I watched it out of obligation. Like I had to only to understand what would come next. There wasn’t any enjoyment out of it.

5. Listened

Song Exploder: Ep 158 The CranberriesThis episode breaks down the “All Over Now” track which, in context to Dolores O’Riordan’s untimely death, adds more weight to this episode, and the track itself.

Day 22 – tomatoes

Day 22 - this jungle needs pruning//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

It’s a jungle in there! I definitely need to start pruning some of these, since the top leaves are starting to bloc the light from reaching the lower leaves. I also need to keep encouraging vertical growth.

I’m also starting to consider whether I want to keep them going in the AeroGarden all the way through (to when they produce fruit) or transfer them to a container outside. I have some herbs that I want to get started soon.

Jones bbq sauce!

Like many (apparently), we went online to purchase some Jones BBQ sauce after seeing them in an episode of Queer Eye. It arrived over the weekend and I immediately started brainstorming some ideas to use it up. Their sauce is sweet and tangy. No, really… it’s sweet and tangy. A little too much for my liking so, not something I would use as an everyday sauce. But, there are definite uses.

Ugh, Mondays.
Grilled bbq shrimp

Grilled shrimp came to mind, first. Sweet and tangy goes well with shrimp (in my opinion). And, with the weather (warm) and light (yay for being lighter later in the day) cooperating, I grilled some up on Monday evening.

The skewers came out really well, with just the right amount of char on the shrimp and veggies. I also grilled some corn on the cob and zucchini to go with it. All in all, not a bad dinner for a Monday evening. It also felt really good to be outside in the evening after a long day in front of a computer (work).

This evening (Tuesday) I’ll be using the rest of the bottle to make some shredded chicken sandwiches. That’s one of our favorites, too!

Five Things for the Week

//I’m still experimenting with the format. Last week’s “Five Things for the Week” was combined with “Recently Read, Watched, and Listened”. In this week’s, as you will see, the two were merged.

1. On mental health

Something inside of me is broken. The good thing is that I’m getting closer and closer to figuring out what it is. And logic would dictate that once I do figure out what it is, then I should be able to figure out how to fix it. Admittedly, I have known something was broken for a while. It just that it wasn’t until recently that I started to try to identify what it was.

2. On adoption

My last post was a short vent about something that triggered me. Like I say in that post, I don’t write or speak publicly about adoption. I do write and think about it a lot. It’s my way of processing feelings and thoughts that I have not only about adoption as a “thing” but, as an adoptee and the experience I have. There are times when I do want to be more public about expressing myself as an adoptee, even wanting (at times) to add my voice to some of the issues around it… Perhaps soon.

3. Read

If You Want to Kill Someone, We Are the Right Guys This reads like a season of FX’s Fargo.

Students Live In Tents, Do Homework Under Flashlights, And Deal Without Textbooks Months After California’s Massive Camp FireSchoolwork was difficult enough for me, having a desk and other resources at home. I can’t imagine trying to do it in a tent, using a flashlight. This is an incredible look into how students are coping after the destruction.

Blair Braverman on the Iditarod, Fear, and Resilience“I was learning to break the impossible into tiny pieces. I was learning the difference between limits that can and can’t be pushed. I kept waiting for the trail to get easier, but maybe it wasn’t going to. Maybe all you could do was keep moving.”

“Fixer Upper” Is Over, But Waco’s Transformation Is Just Beginning “Do I love this? Do I hate this? Or do I just resent how effectively I’m being marketed to?” This is my thought with most things I encounter. This is a long read but fascinating. The “Magnolia Effect” is going to be a documentary some day, I know it.

4. Watched

Kung Fu Hustle Watching this again after several years (I first saw it in 2004 when it was released), and it still was a fun experience. Movies aren’t made like this often, with tongue in cheek humor and characters that are just, fun! Still as entertaining as the first viewing, if not more so.

Patriot Act, Vol. 2 – My respect for Hassan Minaj grows. I love the mid-90s NBA references.

5. Listened

Three Apple Music playlists in heavy rotation: 1) Top 100: Global, 2) Top 100: Korea, and 3) Top 100: USA. There’s a lot of crossover but I like the Korean one the best. K-Pop! Duh!

an adoptee pain point

Ah yes, the ol’ joke about how the person must be adopted because they’re so different from the rest of the family… so different, in fact, that they couldn’t possibly belong with the rest of them.

You’re not one of us. Cue laugh track!

Hilarious.

So funny that it makes me want to literally punch the person who wrote the line in the face. And then punch anyone else involved who allowed it to make to air.

Listen, I’m adopted. It’s really complicated… the experience, the feelings, the thoughts… it all has so many layers that it’s really hard to understand them all. Even more so, it’s harder to feel comfortable with it all; to feel comfortable with yourself and who you are.

I have a great family, and an overall good adoption experience but, adoption – and being an adoptee – is not a “thing” that can be summed up with a binary “good” or “bad”. Like I said, it’s really complicated.

I don’t (publicly) write about it because I still struggle to understand a lot of things around it. Every adoptee has a different experience, a different story, and a different set of feelings that they need to work to understand. Each adoptee will react differently to things like this. Some might even find that joke funny.

That is 100% valid and acceptable.

It. Is. Complex.

I have my own pain points. I have my own triggers.

That ol’ joke? Yeah, that’s a trigger. Yes, it’s a pain point.

Wrap party

Homemade Vietnamese dinner

One of our favorite things is when a friend hosts a “wrap party”. This is where she prepares all of the ingredients to make one of the best home cooked dinners we ever have. She prepares the meat filling for egg rolls, lays out egg roll wraps and rice paper and then puts us to work. Usually there are at least five pairs of hands busy filling and wrapping egg rolls, stacking them high on a baking sheet so that she can take them into the kitchen to fry them.

Prior to us even arriving, she has prepped the vegetables, a beautiful plate of varying shades of green. There’s lettuce, cucumbers, green apple, cilantro, and other herbs. While the guests are wrapping egg rolls, she is preparing beef, pork, and shrimp for our rice paper rolls. Each person gets their own dish of fish sauce and sweet chili sauce for dipping. Then there are bowls of pickled radishes.

All of a sudden, plates of grilled pork, beef, and shrimp arrive. Then come the rice noodles. Then the golden brown egg rolls. And then the rice paper which we get to get ever so slightly damp, so that we can wrap the veggies and the meat into an opaque roll.

It’s all just so damn good. And the only thing better than the food is the conversations, and just being with friends.

Her mom stopped by for a few minutes (to pick something up) and I witnessed this exchange:

Friend’s mom (in Vietnamese): is he Japanese?

Friend (in Vietnamese): No, he’s Korean.

Friend’s mom, with disappointing tone: Oh.

I was sitting right next to her (friend’s mom). She was so disappointed that I wasn’t Japanese. It was funny and adorable and funny. Really, she was “disappointed” that she hadn’t guessed correctly.

Being the conversation was in Vietnamese, I only heard/understood: Japan? No, Korea. Oh.

Still makes me laugh. It was so funny.

Avoiding empathy shortcuts

Sasha Dichter’s post, “The Empath Challenge” has me thinking about the way I describe and interact with others. I know I use these shortcuts more often when dealing with coworkers (and other work related colleagues) because it’s “quicker” and “easier” to justify my understanding of them rather than to take the time I should be.

That’s not to say that I don’t use these shortcuts outside of my work environment. Sometimes my initial reaction, after hearing someone’s plight, anecdote, story, etc., is to express one of these shortcuts. I would like to think that I do, after that initial reaction, take more time to understand more but I cannot say that I do that with confidence.

It’s definitely food for thought and, something to be much more aware of when interacting with people.

Five things for the week

Front porch coffee
  1. It’s getting warmer out. I think I need to start the “sipping scotch while sitting on my front porch at sunset” tradition. At the very least, I need to begin the “sipping coffee in the mornings on my front porch” tradition.
  2. Unintentionally, I seem to have built my walls a lot higher, and thicker, than I ever intended to. All this time I have been blaming “introversion” but, I think there’s something more. Something darker.
  3. I’m happiest when I cook, when I write, and when I photograph. So, why don’t I do these things more often? I know this intellectually. It’s on repeat in my head. What is my block on this?
  4. We visited friends (on Saturday). While there, I watched one of our friends’ two kids play, and saw the difference in how they acted when they played with their tablets/electronics versus when they played with toys. I saw distinct personalities come out from the same child, depending on what they were interacting with. It was fascinating.
  5. Tree pollen and allergies were strong, this week. I think I sneezed more this past week than I ever have in my entire life, combined.


Recently Read, Watched, and Listened

//I’m trying something different, combining this post into my normal “Five things…” post. I use both to wrap up the end of a week and it kind of makes sense to just have them be one blog post… we’ll see.

Read

‘Animal Crossing’ Reminds Me to Look After Myself—Not Just My Avatar This is my most played game on my phone. I open it maybe 4-6 times a day. At first I thought it was boring but, I just kept playing it. I kept opening it. I kept collecting fruit and fishing. This article is good insight into why I might be doing this.

The weird and wonderful world of neighborhood Facebook groups Pre-social media, how did all of these conversations and rants and whatsits occur? During HOA and community meetings? Were people sitting on their porches shouting their neighborhood thoughts to passerbys? If that’s the case, I want in on that. I have a nice cushioned bench on my front porch now.


Watched

Hannah Gadsby: NanetteThis comedy special has been in my Netflix queue for a while. I had no idea what to expect; I had only added it because I overheard someone raving about it while waiting to board an airplane (a while ago). It’s powerful. Her voice, her story… it’s important to hear.

Our Planet, episodes 3-8 – Yeah, this was just as good as the Planet Earth and Blue Planet series. I finished the rest of the episodes and was left in awe. I can’t get the imagery of the walrus-cliff scenes out of my head. And the Kingfisher footage at the beginning of episode 7? I need that as my screensaver on ALL THE SCREENS! It was stunning.

Game of Thrones, season 8, episodes 1-2 – Of course.

Star Trek Discovery, Season 2 – This season was even better than the first, and cemented my fandom and appreciation for this series. I had my doubts but those were squashed with each progressing episode as we watched.


Listened

Rilo KileyI always knew of them but really didn’t familiarize myself with any of their work. Their album “The Execution of All Things” was on repeat a few times this week. I love the songwriting.

10 things that scare me, GoT edition

I love the 10 Things That Scare Me podcast. It’s a good look into the thinking and vulnerabilities of others that helps me put better framework around my own. I even wrote my own list back in January. I have also been thinking about Game of Thrones since the season 8 premiere because, like so many, I really want to know how it ends.

So, when I saw @emdot‘s tweet…

… I thought, why not a list of 10 things that scare me, related to GoT?

  1. Speaking of Ghost, that a dire wolf dies and then is resurrected into the Night King’s army.
  2. That the series is going to end without us even getting to experience the Lady Stoneheart character.
  3. Sam or Gilly will suffer in some undeserved, completely unnecessary way.
  4. That Cersei doesn’t die by the hands of her brother (per the prophecy), and it’s Tyrion.
  5. That The Hound and Arya don’t end up in some buddy comedy feature film or series spinoff, following their adventures after the battle with the Night King.
  6. The Mountain is resurrected into the Night King’s Army.
  7. Littlefinger returns somehow. Hate that character.
  8. That we don’t get more Brienne and Tormund scenes.
  9. Greyworm and Missandei don’t survive and end up living happily ever after, together.
  10. That the series ends similar to how The Sopranos did, with a fade to black.

8 days in

8 days in
8 days in

I’m pleasantly surprised at how quickly the heirloom tomatoes sprouted. Here they are on day 8, and they’re almost starting to push against the domes.

My original plan was to turn the AeroGarden into an herb garden, and keep it in our kitchen for easy access. I also have some Shishito pepper seeds that I contemplated starting too. I even purchased a “Grow Anything” kit so that I can pick and choose my own herbs.

The model I purchased came with the heirloom tomato seeds and I thought, “it would be nice to have some tomatoes at the ready”. I deliberated for a few days, herbs vs tomatoes, and settled on the tomatoes for now.

I’m actually kind of tempted to buy another AeroGarden so that I can grow both. I’m sure AeroGarden is happy to hear that.

restaurant diversity in suburbia

Combo plate

A new Ono Hawaiian BBQ location opened up in the same plaza where I do most of our grocery shopping. This is good (yay, a new place and I love Hawaiian BBQ!) and bad (oh wow, I have to be careful not to eat at this place every day). We stopped to try it in lieu of grocery shopping because it was an easy cop out from having to cook that evening.

There’s no shortage of restaurants in our area. Like most cities, the density in number of restaurants increases the closer you get to downtown. I love it, as there are so many places to try (and so little time). An added bonus is that in our current economy, with technology assisting, we can have any of these restaurants delivered right to our door.

A lot of people complain about the lack of diversity in the suburbs. It’s true to some extent, and probably more true in some subdivisions over others. One of the reasons we chose the one we did is because there is quite a bit of diversity here. Like anything, you just need to start paying more attention or perhaps even seek out specific cuisines. They’re out there, hidden in strip malls and other unexpected places (like gas stations).

It’s also important to frequent those places, once found. This not only helps keep the restaurant in business but also sends a signal that diverse restaurants are welcome, and encourages more to open.

Even though Ono Hawaiian is a chain, it’s one of very few Hawaiian BBQ places in our neighborhood. It’s good enough (for me) until we get another, better restaurant to replace it.

On tax day

Like many (the majority of US Citizens, I hope) I filed my taxes by today’s deadline. I’m usually on top of things and file in mid-February to late March. This time around, I filed last week, still before deadline but much later than usual.

Like many, I was really nervous about finding out that I would owe more this year because of the recent tax changes. And, like many, upon completing I was angry, disappointed, and a little sad that we did, in fact, owe much more than usual.

This was even accounting for the increased donations we made in 2018, including donating a car. We had some write offs from our cross country move, and our selling the old house and buying the new. Yet we still owed.

So I asked some accountant colleagues who could only console me with “it’s not anything you did wrong; it really is the changes to the tax laws that did you in”.

This just reinforces my view (personal opinion) that this is just another, small symptom of how broken our system really is. I understand and willingly pay taxes. I believe in them and appreciate the things that tax money grants us. I can afford to pay them, even when I find I owe more at the time of filing.

But, imagine I wasn’t this fortunate? Imagine those who scrape daily to make ends meet, only to find that they still owe much more than they anticipated on tax day. And imagine them being told “it’s not anything you did wrong; it really is the changes to the tax laws that did you in“.

Five things for the week

Garden Highway
  1. Towards the end of the week, I let some things drop on my personal (home) and school fronts. Wednesday and Thursday were tied up with some long conference calls that lasted from 5:30 AM to 3:00 PM, so my energy was spent on that. This week, as a result, I have some catching up to do.
  2. Change is in the air… I think it always is but we only really notice it when we want to.
  3. My wife is continuing to school me in skin and self-care. I must admit, I do like our face mask routines. The charcoal and purifying ones feel really good.
  4. Related to #2: I have the means but, I lack the “way”.
  5. This coming week, we set a goal to just prep/eat vegetarian dinners. I’m excited to see if/how we fare with this. It should be easy but will we cave to wanting some sort of meat?

Recently read, Watched, and Listened

Read

The Disease of More My inner-minimalist keeps trying to surface. This isn’t about minimalist of stuff, necessarily. It more spoke to finding balance and contentment with what you are doing with your life. An example would be salary; how much do you want to earn and why? And what happens when you get to earning that much? Would you then want to earn more, or will you truly be content with what you need?

What It’s Like to Grow Up With More Money Than You’ll Ever Spend Speaking of earning and money, this is a small insight from someone with a lot of money and built-in potential to always make more. But she has tempered, in her way, what having money means and how that affects daily living.


Watched

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1 – We caved and subscribed to CBS All Access, mainly to watch this show. My curiosity kept growing to the point where I just needed to check it out to see if it was worth paying (extra) for. In my opinion, it is. We binged Season 1 though the weekend and are already craving catching up on season 2.

Our Planet I started watching this series (I’m just two episodes in) for the stunning visuals, much like the “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet” series. I love content like this and have great appreciation for what (I understand) it takes to produce it. Imagine the sheer patience and amount of footage needed to get to their final cut.


Listened

I’m trying our a subscription to Apple Music and letting the “For You” playlists do their thing. They’re not bad (so far), and I find that I’m discovering some new artists in the process. I’m still coming to terms with paying for a music subscription versus purchasing (digital or analog).

More art in more places, please!

Unexpected places

This mural, on a water tank (?), is a few neighborhoods over from mine, in Sacramento. I remember first seeing it as we were searching for houses to buy, and thinking “how awesome to see art instead of a blah beige industrial tank” and “I would love to live in a place that encourages art like this”.

Yesterday, after a long series of conference calls, I grabbed a late lunch and took an afternoon drive. I stopped (quickly) by the side of the road to grab this snapshot, making a note to come back to it sometime when the light was more aligned to showcase the center part of the mural. I also noticed that there is a bike path that runs right past this, making another note to myself to get out to explore that soon.

Recently Read, Watched, and Listened

Read

The most Innovative Phone Cases are Made in a Los Angeles Shed – The lengths people will go in the name of their creativity is to be appreciated. Also, there’s a lesson in here to just be/do you. It’s an important lesson that we all need to learn over and over again.


Watched

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse Loved everything from the animation styles to the story to the diversity in the characters. It was also just a very fun movie.

BumblebeeAlmost, movie studios… almost got it right. You’re just so so close. Ha! Nope. So many plot holes and “poor loner girl” clichés and continuity mistakes that it was all just too distracting for me to fully enjoy. At least you got the original Transformers’ styles back. I need more Soundwave and Shockwave.


Listened

Song Exploder, ep. 156 Sharon Van Etten “Seventeen” Song Exploder is one of my favorite podcasts. I really appreciate the artist breaking down their creative process for creating their music. And it “deepens” my appreciation of the work that was put into each of the tracks.

The Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse soundtrack. It’s too distracting (for me) while working but it sure is fun to play loudly while driving around town. 

On drone photography

Photo by Khánh Phan on SkyPixel

I was looking through the https://www.skypixel.com/contests/2018 submissions and winners of the 2018 SkyPixel photography contest. It’s a great collection of drone photography, really displaying what the medium is capable of.

I love the different perspectives that we’re getting with drone photography. So much so that I started looking into purchasing a drone with the hope that the new perspective, and hobby, would help me work my way back into photographing new things.

The overall equipment cost acts as a bit of a deterrent for me. Even though I could afford to get into it (modestly) I still can’t justify the cost against how often I might actually use the equipment. I then started thinking about my current blocks on photography. One of the reasons I have the kit that I do is because I just got tired of hauling equipment all over the place. I wanted small and light, a camera that I can thrown into a backpack. Not a camera backpack, mind you, but just a plain old backpack.

Just the thought of moving around with a drone and all of the accessories was enough to turn me off. Admittedly, I still toy with the idea though. I suppose I’m “drone-curious” right now.

Now, what I want more than a drone is an eagle trained to take them down. Now that would be fun!

Five things for the week

Succulent arrangement
  1. After reading this article, I started thinking about the amount of time I spend (we all spend, actually) with keyboards. I am picky with them. Not as picky as some but more than most. At my desk I use a mechanical keyboard for feel, comfort, and sound. I have yet to find any keyboard that I like using with my iPad. Most are tolerable but none preferred. I haven’t purchased an Apple laptop, opting to keep my 2014 Macbook Pro, because the Macbook keyboards since then are horrible. Thankfully, my work laptop (Dell 7480) has a decent keyboard which I appreciate while on business trips (and am away from my desktop setup).
  2. I purchased a dwarf Meyer lemon tree, earlier in the week, and potted it in a 20-gallon pot on the weekend. I’m glad to finally get some green in our backyard (when we bought the house, the yard was just pavers and white rock). I have two more bigger pots that I plan to fill up eventually. Just trying to determine what I want back there. For now, I’d be happy with anything green. I also purchased an AeroGarden to start using as a quick seed starter. 
  3. We replaced our bedroom curtains with darker (grey) ones which, as intended, has made our room very dark through the night and mornings. The pervious curtains (left by the previous owner) were sheer, so let in some light all of the time. I got used to them very quickly, with mornings being easy because I would wake up with the light. Now, with these darker ones, I have more difficulty getting up in the mornings. My wife is sleeping much better so, I just need more time to adjust (and a louder alarm).
  4. I can’t believe it’s April already.
  5. This week’s priority: health. Mental and physical.