Favorite Five Links: Career, Food, Coffee

My foodie lifestyle has led to abundant adventures in Chicago and Los Angeles in the last 6 years. I love visiting small pop-up cafes, coffee shops, and all the "must" restaurants. Now, food and coffee seem completely unrelated to work or career decisions, right? Hear me out.

I'm passionate about culinary art and nutrition, but this does not mean I am going to become some restaurant venture capitalist. I'm a digital enthusiast, but this does not mean I will transform into a globe-trotting digital evangelist. Without a doubt, I will integrate my talents and passion to create something for the greater good. And for the last 3 years, my brain has been churning, trying to figure out how I can best leverage my gifts to add value to society while learning at the same time. 

During moments of intense cogitating, I can't help but to reflect on Ben Horowitz's words:

"...my recommendation would be follow your contribution. Find the thing that you’re great at, put that into the world, contribute to others, help the world be better and that is the thing to follow."

At first, you may be taken aback and defensively retaliate; I certainly  did not respond too well at first. But the more I thought about it though, the more I began to agree with Horowitz: We need to differentiate hobby from passion, and passion from contribution. They're not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, the three are distinct in their own ways.  Hopefully, my unnecessarily philosophical statements provide you with something to chew on. 

1. Follow your contribution not passion.

2. Charles Schwab CEO tests candidates' ability to handle adversity.

3. Your guide to authentic tacos--not your TexMex stuff.

4. Best coffee roasters. Thoughts?

5. Peach and Lily: The story and business of a consultant-Harvard-business-school-turned entrepreneur.

Pristine Christine

Two Thousand Fourteen in a Nutshell

Two Thousand Fourteen: A year of unforgettable adventures. When one season ends, another transpires, but we should never bid farewell to the former with a remorseful or regretful heart. Without a doubt, we each endure daily struggles and overcome several tribulations. However, the lessons learned and growth achieved after every process leave a rather sweet taste in the mouth. We're all human--we err more often than we wish. And while it is true that we live in a society that tries to conceal any blemishes, we also have the ability to surround ourselves with people who help us grow by learning from our mistakes and teaching us to utilize those experiences as powerful tools. This, in fact, was the reiterative theme of my Two Thousand Fourteen. Rather than recapping the major events of 2014, I want to take the time to thank various people (not that all of them would read this post) and share twelve reminders and lessons I carried with me throughout two thousand fourteen.

1. Even a pearl must learn to hold back tears. 2. Life changes every 20 feet. 3. "Most failures are not due to bad technology but due to people." 4. Listen, and listen, again. 5. I'm half a person, so we can squeeze 4 people in the back of a cab in India. 6. Embrace resilience. Be resilient. 7. Lean not on your own understanding. 8. If you fail, make your failure worthwhile. 9. Treat every adversity as an adventure and opportunity. 10. Perception is only half-reality. 11. Be true to yourself. 12. Never compromise your values and dreams. A season exists for everything.

The closing of 2014 would not be complete without saying thank you to certain people. These individuals have traveled this 12-month-long journey with me at different periods, but they have all impacted my growth and encouraged me in their respective ways-- The big guy up above, my mother (best friend and role model), my father, my brother, Ashley, Meesoh, Amanda, Paula, Jeanette, Daniel, Angel, Michael, Tina, Eric (Ricdrizzle), Dr. Jina K., Kevin, Connie, Catherine, Karlo, Jim Jim, Jordan, Brandan, Raman, Michael S., Josue, Jessica, Yugant, Steve, Nanci, Brittney O., Tony, Mark, Brittney G., Rob, Doris, Nicole, Armen, Jonathan, Pastor Tim, Pastor Ben.

Cheers to a glamorous 2015! On that note, I cannot wait to see you, again, Chicago!

Holiday Bites: Healthy Savory Tomato-Mushroom Rosemary Bread Pudding

I shared with you previously that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Christmas indeed was a glorious day for our family. My mom and I, the early birds, brewed some coffee and enjoyed the peace before getting ready for Christmas service. Although my mom had already prepared and planned a Christmas dinner at home, I wanted us to gather together for a quick Christmas breakfast as well. After contemplating between baking a sweet bread pudding and a savory one, I opted for the latter since we would be indulging in Hawaiian Paradise Cheesecake later in the evening. I always believe in cooking healthy and would think you share similar sentiments. My version of savory tomato-mushroom rosemary bread pudding may not taste as rich or buttery, but it still satiates cravings and does enough justice. (Photos were not taken with our DSLR. No need to ruin holiday spirits and mood, right?)


{Ingredients} 4 cups of cubed Whole Wheat Bread 1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk 3 Eggs 1/4 tsp Salt Ground Black Pepper 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 tsp Italian Seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, etc.) 1 branch of Fresh Rosemary 3/4 tsp Garlic Salt 4 cups Cherry or Sugar Plum Tomatoes, halved 3 cups Mushrooms (Oyster, trumpets, beech, and porcini are my favorites) 1/3 cup Walnuts 1 cup Shredded Organic Mozzarella 1/4 cup Earth Balance Margarine

{For the "Custard"} 1. Pour the milk into a large bowl. 2. Crack open 3 large [organic] eggs. 3. Add the salt and ground pepper. 4. Beat the mixture until you reach a smooth texture.

{For the Filling} 1. In a pan, lightly sauté halved sweet sugar plum/cherry tomatoes and mushrooms with olive oil, garlic salt, and the Italian seasoning. Taste and add garlic or salt as needed. Add walnuts as well. 2. In a 8x8 baking pan, coat the surface with Earth Balance Margarine. 3. Layer with cubed bread pieces. 4. Transfer the tomato and mushroom mixture to the baking pan. 5. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella. 6. Pour the custard over as evenly as possible. 7. Add fresh rosemary leaves on top. 8. Pre-heat for about 10 minutes at 375-400 degrees (depends on oven). 9. Bake until golden (roughly 30-35 minutes) and serve!

Happy New Year, everyone! Off to grandmother's, we go.


Last Minute Holiday Guide & The Spirit of Giving

Holiday_gift_guide I love Christmas more than I love Thanksgiving. For me personally, the holiday's significance extends beyond Santa, cookies, and carols. The special day serves as a reminder of the greatest gift I received, and I feel compelled to share the same joy with others. Gathering with family over a hearty Christmas meal enables me to do so. But I also enjoy spreading the mirth through meaningful cards or thoughtful gifts. What Maya Angelou, one of my childhood favorite authors, said comes to mind--“...people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." People won't remember how expensive your gift is, but they will remember how they felt when receiving and/or using it. Hence, I embrace my mother's philosophy of Treat Every Guest Special, for the seemingly most banal man may be the greatest. Bearing such spirit in mind, below are a few ideas that I believe carry intrinsic value.

1. Archipelago Diffuser -- Who doesn't want to wake up to a refreshing scent every morning? 2. Hair Jewelry (similar here) 3. Valerie Confections Assorted Petit Fours -- Savor every moment. 4. Marc Jacobs Daisy Trio Set -- Travel comfortably with these utilitarian sized fragrances. 5. L'Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream -- For those walkers who suffer from callouses... 6. Clarisonic Mia 2 Skin Cleansing System -- Say farewell to ineffective, costly facial massages! 7. Anthropologie Gold Monogram Mug -- A part of him/her glossed with gold.

Merry Christmas, everyone. In the midst of stress and chaos, I am reminding myself daily of the peace and serenity that transcended this earth. Hoping you will as well!


Seasonal Transitions and Transformations

Persimmon-dates Thanksgiving's just around the corner, and Christmas is just a little over a month away as well. The hybrid of autumn and winter air grows more prominent as we inch closer to the holidays. The full withdrawal from summer causes a shift in the fresh produce that we purchase--maybe not as much for us Californians but a shift most definitely occurs. To name a few, apples, pears, figs, squash, and pumpkin are in season. I love my figs, apples, and squash, but I also enjoy eating persimmons and dates. The dark orange and golden tints of their skin embrace and represent the season quite well. If you remember, last December, I shared a simple recipe to a healthy and scrumptious persimmon snack (click the link!). Chef Travis Lett truly deserves the credit though.

Creamer-decorWhile I am not one to shy away from traditional autumn colors--orange, yellow, red, brown--or flavors, I also like to incorporate some bright, earthy tones.

My mom, who inspires me in countless ways, constantly teaches me the art of transformation. She suggested that we take one of our beautiful creamers, crafted in France, and transform it into a mini-vase. We grabbed a few branches from our berry bush and filled the creamer with them. The contrast between the glossy white and matte forest green adds character to both the room and our vintage cherry red oak bench.

Thank you, everyone, for supporting me and this blog for the past year. If anything, Petite Bites documents much of my journey post-college. My end-goal has always been to empower and inspire people through the simplest means without imposing high costs (I say "high," because time is still a cost!). I promise not to abandon you or Petite Bites even if work becomes increasingly busy. Thank you, again!


Falling Forward on a Tuesday Morning


It's almost three weeks into August, and already, I feel excited for the upcoming season. I am ready to take out my cashmere sweaters, knit hats, scarves, and boots. More importantly, I have every reason to wear my favorite colors: gray, charcoal/black, camel, navy. This Fall, we see bursts of bright tones here and there as cobalt blue and yellow--along with various shades of gray, black, and brown--take the spotlight. If I could critique one trend though, it would be the clogs. Designers and the media have successfully marketed clogs as the fall item to buy, but I fail to see the investment value in them. However, a hybrid of open-toed clogs and booties rightfully deserves attention. A pair would serve well for years, as they strike the perfect balance between classic and modern. Another personal favorite are leather trousers. You can opt for either casual or business by changing tops--chic white tee at night and silk blouses in the day. From stilettos to sandals to booties, matching shoes with these versatile trendy trousers will hardly be a problem. For the final touch, Essie's cobalt blue nail polish will do the trick. 

In the meantime, relish the last of summer and enjoy Taco Tuesday! Eat all the guacamole and avocado you can for me. 

Sending 5 am Love,

P.S. Can you believe that I'm spending my fourth week in Mumbai? Tempus fugit! Time flies...


Brunchin' It Up: Weekend Parcels


The weekend is here, and it feels wonderful to wake up without being bogged down by a 9-hour agenda. I love turning on some morning jams and grabbing brunch (yes, this is in addition to my light breakfast. A working girl needs to eat!). I'm not too keen on indulging in heavy meals, so what I consider to be an ideal brunch would consist of enjoying a perfect cup of coffee with anything related to french toast, pancakes, frittatas, bagels, and gourmet sandwiches. My mom and I found every part of our time at Manhattan Beach Post lovely--the coffee, food, and ambiance.The light, creme fraiche complemented the cinnamon and preserved peaches, while the crunchy marcona almonds added a whole new texture to each bite. During the phone calls that my mom and I have had thus far, she has expressed how much she misses me and our dates. I, too, feel the same and anxiously anticipate my return to the states. Could this be another symptom of homesickness? Possibly. All I know is that I could use some quality mother-daughter time right now. 

Lethargy seems to settle in more quickly and frequently these days, but since I loathe taking naps, I'm usually trying to keep myself awake at the desk. As we millennials like to say, "Hashtag strugglebus."  

Cheers to a relaxing weekend! Bring out the tunes and griddle. I, for one, treated myself out to a splendid meal at the Palladium Hotel and could not be any more satisfied.