Happy 2014!

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Another year gone by, and this blog neglected for what seems like eons. I am most definitely still around, and I’d love to share some updates with my dear readers, FAQ style. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, ask away in the comments! Bar any inappropriateness, I will answer your questions.

Q: Are you still displaced from Hurricane Sandy?
A: Nope! We moved back to our home in Long Island City after almost five months of being displaced, and our building is well on its way to recovery. We are so blessed to have Tim’s sister live so close by, and they generously gave us space in their home for the entire time. We gained so much perspective during that time, and I do feel like God used the storm to show us just how much He cares for us.

Q: Wow! What was it like living with your in-laws for so long?
A: I’m not exaggerating the least bit when I say it was so much fun. It was like one really long slumber party. We had a lot of movie nights, I enjoyed having people to cook for, and then there was the dog that brought so much joy each day. Plus, we experienced first-hand the transformation of their beautiful new apartment! If you need home inspiration ideas, check out my sister-in-law’s blog. Chris and Jenn, we don’t thank you enough for all that you did for us. Not many people could stand living with their in-laws for a little while, much less five full months. Thanks for sharing your home when we needed one.

Q: Are you still baking?
A: Yes! Once we moved back into the apartment and got full use of our gas and electricity, I’ve been giving my oven some much needed attention. I’ve been baking mostly comfort desserts, which to me are chocolate chip cookies and green tea mochi cake. During the long break from baking, I’ve made quite a list of projects I want to try, so I will be baking a lot more this year.

Q: I heard something you changing jobs–what are you doing now?
A: You heard right, and I quit my job earlier in the year. Instead of selling enterprise software, I have made a huge decision to launch my wedding planning business, Savour Weddings. It’s been quite the journey since I started helping friends out with their weddings some six years ago, and I believe that this is the perfect job for me at the moment. There is nothing like the end of a wedding, after the couple has been sent off to start their marriage by all their friends and families–I relish in that moment and will work so hard to ensure that happens at every wedding.

Q: Are you going to get back to blogging?
A: Yes, yes, yes. I’m back in my home, I’ve got a flexible work schedule, and I’ve been baking and cooking. I would love to continue blogging my baking projects, but I may include some cooking and other related posts as well. I miss my blogger friends and readers, and I am sorry I’ve been away for so long.

Q: So what all happened in 2012?
A: I’ll answer this question with an Instagram recap. Here are some memorable moments from the year:

To celebrate our 5th anniversary (and Texas Independence Day), Tim and I served Frito Pies to over 200 people at church! What a joy to bring a little bit of Texas culture to NY.

We lived with little Wonka for 5 months, and there’s nothing like the warm welcome from a dog when you come home back work. We’d love to get our own dog, but we consider this one almost like our own. (Chris and Jenn just don’t know it.)

I traveled to Thailand this summer, mostly to spend time with family, especially my ill grandmothers. A month later, my paternal grandmother, Khun Ya, breathed her last breath. I cherish the time I got to spend with her, and I’m glad she’s not suffering any longer.

Breaking Bad had its last season, and I celebrated my birthday Walter-White-style. Minus the whole drug empire thing, of course.

And then there were all the weddings I worked! Yuna and Addison’s wedding featured a relaxed Brooklyn brunch, and they taught me that the best is certainly yet to come. I look forward to an awesome 2014!!

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Categories: Briefs

2012 Reflection

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January 1st is always a day of reflection for me. I’ve put off reflecting back on 2012 for a long time because it’s been a very trying year for my family, and if I leave myself alone with my thoughts, my mind wanders, and a lot of emotions take over.

It’ll be helpful for me to walk through the year’s events, so let’s review the year Instagram style.

In January, I sampled beignets all over New Orleans, in February I became part of the LFCC Deaconate Team, and then in March, Tim I celebrated four years of marriage by eating lots of uni and ramen.

In the spring, I had some health issues taken care of, and everything in life seemed to halt while I recovered. I was very encouraged by everyone’s thoughts, prayers, food and flowers, and I took that time to nurture myself spiritually and physically. I also took the time to grow a little herb garden on my balcony.

Once I fully recovered and found myself back at work, things instantly sped up and it came time for our Asia trip, to visit Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. Tokyo was everything I imagined, and three days were simply not enough to experience all that I wanted…

I stopped blogging after I mentioned that my grandmother was very ill. The great news is that my grandmother has since left the hospital, and though she’s not fully recovered, she’s in stable condition and can live at home with some assistance. I’m thankful for the chance to spend time with both grandmothers this summer, and while all the food was great, the time spent with family meant much more.

Taiwan was another whirlwind of a trip. Even though we spent about a week there, we jumped from city to city so often, it felt like a nonstop night market. We sampled lots of stinky tofu, soup dumplings, beef noodle soup, mango shaved ice, bubble tea, delicious fruits, but we were fortunate to be accompanied by so many family members and family friends. Just like in Thailand, this trip was about family which made all the food taste better.

After the trip, we returned to another case of reverse culture shock, which was fixed by eating lots of ramen and Taiwanese breakfast, and lucky for us both are easily accessible here in New York. I also had the joy of coordinating two weddings in September for some extraordinary couples. Both were beautiful days, and they couldn’t have gone better.

In October, I had a fantastic birthday that started out with bacon, continued with a close peek at the Christopher Columbus statue, and ended with some bluegrass in Astoria. Tim also made me some amazing beef noodles. Seeing that the majority of the year was pretty awesome is just the reminder I need to get my mind off of the most recent events. Speaking of which…

October 29, 2012. Contrary to what most people thought, Hurricane Sandy did not turn out to be nothing. While we prepared as much as we could, we had no idea we would witness a huge surge come tearing through our neighborhood, into our garage, up through our lobby. And in no way did we anticipate that the storm would still be affecting us in the new year. Sandy’s effects were truly devastating to many, and I pray nobody will ever underestimate the danger of hurricanes again. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for, like our lives and a standing building, but it requires a conscious choice to acknowledge this as part of God’s will, and not to give up hope. It’s this hope that we must hold onto while we are still displaced and are battling countless things to be able to return home in 2013.

It’s been hard to get in the holiday spirit while dealing with Sandy’s aftermath, but we were able to make a trip to visit my parents in Houston, TX for Thanksgiving while we stayed in New York for a cozy Christmas with my in-laws. We were even able to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday, and it’s been a real joy to see how God has grown everyone through the year.

This year has been like a difficult bread recipe — one that requires a lot of kneading and waiting them some more kneading and more waiting. Eventually when the bread finally goes through the heat in the oven, the dough that was worked and waited on turns into a wonderful bread that fills the home with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

With all the storms I’ve encountered in life this year, I know now that it’s all part of a process, much like that bread recipe. And with that in mind, I can say with confidence that I do look forward to 2013. I pray I don’t encounter as many hardships as in 2012, but even if I do, I know it’ll just be another step in life. My hope is in Jesus Christ, and may He be the solid Rock on which I stand.

p.s. Happy 6th year to this little blog. May 2013 bring many more stories and motivation to continue the baking and blogging!

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Categories: Briefs

Thailand

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My three days in Tokyo took up a month’s worth of posts, but I’m finally done posting about that leg of the trip. The next five days were spent in Bangkok visiting my side of the family.

Thailand has come up in conversation a lot recently. My former manager just came back from a 3-week trip to Asia where he was able to visit his daughter who happens to be studying abroad in Bangkok for six months. It was great to hear his stories and how he loved the food and the people there.

It’s also come up because Khun Ya, my paternal grandmother, is very sick and is in the hospital. There’s not one specific reason why she’s there, but the collection of health issues she’s been struggling with over the last few years have all gotten worse at the same time. My parents are en route to Bangkok at this very moment to be with the family. While I’m sad I cannot go along with them, Tim reminds me that we were able to visit her when she was still well and even able to come out to a museum and dinner at a restaurant. Being 95, that is no small feat.

Khun Ya is also a fantastic cook and makes some of the spiciest and tastiest dishes I’ve ever had. Each time we visit, there is always a surplus of goods to eat, in true Urwongse fashion.

While I spend some time praying for God to work in great ways around Khun Ya and the family, I’ll share some pictures from our visit. And if you’re so inclined, I’d really appreciate your prayers for the Urwongse family as well.

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Categories: Briefs

Asia Trip 2012

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I’m back from my Asia trip (it’s actually been a few weeks already!), and I have so many fond memories from those 16 days abroad. I had such an amazing time exploring Tokyo, I seriously contemplated “missing” my connecting flight back to the States while at Narita… but reason won over, and I got on the plane and came back to New York.

I did promise to share my trip with y’all, but I’m having such a hard time sifting through my photos and choosing which ones to post about. I can’t look through them without getting lost in thoughts.. so while I sort through my experiences, here’s a taste of what to look forward to.


I know I had high expectations for my visit to Tokyo, but they were met, and then some. Three days in this city was such a tease, and I cannot wait to go back.


Our time in Bangkok was a chance for us to relax and hang out with family. The fruit and the malls in Bangkok.. the two best ways to beat the tropical heat.


Taiwan was a crazy whirlwind for us. We toured around the entire island in under a week! Our family lives all over the country, so this was our itinerary: we spent a day and a half Taipei (mostly in 101),


then we took a train to beautiful Hualien where we stayed two days,


then we drove seven hours all around the coasts to get to Tainan,


then we took another car to Kaohsiung and spent a day there,


and then took the high-speed rail to Taichung where we caught a cab to take us to Cholan.

Whew, that was tiring just typing. Like I said, there’s just so much for me to process! But I’m working on it, and soon enough, I’ll have tons of stories and pictures for y’all.

Have a great weekend, and hope you’re making the most of summertime!

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Categories: Briefs

Whereabouts

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Dear Friends,

Long time no blog… again. In these past months, there were times when a lot was going on, and then there were moments when I had the time (but not the capacity) to publish my posts. If I still have any readers out there (maybe a few of you?), here’s what’s been going on.

Back in April, I was forced to take a break from everything due to a health issue – it wasn’t anything terribly awful, but it was serious enough to take me out for a month. Looking back, I can’t believe that was already three months ago, but thanks be to God, all is well with my health now, and it was a blessing to have found true rest that month. Around mid-April, I also started my container garden from seeds of radishes, Thai basil, purple basil, sweet basil, lavender, Thai chili peppers, and sunflowers.


In May, I took my new perspective on rest and did my best to incorporate it into my previously nonstop life. I was back at work, but I tried to spend most my time at home. I was back to cooking (but not baking), and after helping organize our church’s annual Memorial Day Picnic, my involvement with various events increased, and so did the pace of life.


Then with June came the rainy weather as well as a downpour of work busyness. My container garden grew and loved all the rain, but my work days also grew longer as I kept busy with different clients in NJ and CT. Luckily during long commutes, I got the chance to plan my upcoming Asia trip and began learning Katakana so I’ll have some hope in getting around Tokyo.


Which leads me to today. Today I’m packing my bags and getting ready for my 16-day trip to Tokyo, Thailand, and Taiwan. I’ve never been to Japan before, and in all the research I’ve done about Tokyo, to say I’m excited is an immense understatement. Three days in Tokyo is barely enough to get a taste of the city, but it’s all we could spare in our family-centric trip. We’ve got at least four upcoming family gatherings, set in Bangkok and all over Taiwan, and we’ll have seen over 60 relatives at the end of these two weeks.

I will be documenting this trip in detail, so I promise you’ll be seeing updates from me once I’m back from my trip. And then once I’m rested, I’ll try to get back to baking and blogging regularly shortly after that. But until then..

またね! สวัสดี ค่ะ! 再見!

With love,
Talida

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Categories: Briefs