From the title of this post, I hope it is evident that I will be discussing topics that normally do not go hand in hand but are the most prominent on my mind and in my life at the moment. Settle down and buckle in, there is a long journey ahead.
Hi y’all. Sorry for no updates recently. Quite honestly, I was struggling with a few things and wasn’t sure how to proceed. Personally, once I allow things to simmer on low heat in the melting pot that is my brain, I normally get the answer I’m looking for. My answer this time around is to talk about all the things that stood out to me on my recent adventures around Houston.
First of all, let me be perfectly clear. I am completely and unapologetically a foodie. If you are expecting a healthy food experience, please be warned. I enjoy food too much to limit myself to what is good for me. I am always in the search for my next tastebud adventure and recently I found a place that is just to my taste. I won’t go all Yelp review on you guys but I can tell y’all that this was one of the most satisfying food experiences I have had in this incredibly multicultural environment that provides us all with a huge variety of culinary experiences.
The name is Snowflake Cafe and Bakery. Unassuming but cute, as is the place itself pictured below.
A comfortable, colorful, warm interior greets you as you enter and look around. The menu is hand written in chalk. The wall art is both unique and precious. There is an upstairs area with a pool table and a darts board. The staff are ready to help and provide any information you may need. In short, it is the perfect haven for a person like myself.
The food, however was the real star of the show. We had a variety of crepes, coffees and a sandwich. They even offer high tea, not something common to Houston. The crepes were delicious, the sandwich scrumptious and the coffee was well worth my while. Having my friend there to share the experience was the best part. And the service was superb. We stayed past closing time and they never even said a word. Absolutely adored this place and will be returning some time soon!
My next adventure was just as flavored but wasn’t an accomplice for my taste buds. This is a recollection of a unique nature. I had the privilege of attending a musical performance that attempted to combine classical Indian music with Western classical music. The performance was in the James Turrell Skyspace at the Rice University campus. The building itself lent a singular ambience to the performance. What made it even more extraordinary was the lighting that accompanied the “In Observance of Dusk – Evening Triptych” doctoral recital of Shane Monds. I was one of the lucky last two to be allowed into the, at this point, standing space only performance and it was totally worth the hour long wait in line.
The experience was quite memorable. I lost myself in the music over and over. Though there were crossover parts I didn’t really love, there were moments where I could imagine a classical Indian dancer dancing to the music. It was definitely a great night. I can only imagine where the soon-to-be Doctor Monds will take us next!
What made both of these experiences even better was the fact that I had the company of my wonderful friends with me on both occasions. My best friend accompanied me to the cafe and my sister took me with her to the concert. Love them both!
All in all, I feel blessed to have these people in my life and the opportunity to explore such a hot pot of culture. H-town represent!
I had a really long, tough day at work today. I got home feeling like a zombie, run over and killed and then run over again for good measure. I got home ready to collapse into a grumpy mess. But a really sweet gesture from a really wonderful friend turned my night around in an instant.
I present to you my friend Monique Pham’s blog, a testament to her culinary poweress and a great place for amazing recipes!
In my head, she is the Baking Queen, a sweet sister and an extremely thoughtful friend. Today, when I was ready for my horrible day to stretch into a horrible night, she did something incredibly sweet – she brought me a cake she had baked earlier today. And it wasn’t just any cake either. I give you the Spring Cake, as beautiful as it is delicious!
This gorgeous creation is one in a long line of many innovative, delicious, aesthetically outstanding culinary achievements.
She has made many cakes, tarts, truffles and macaroons in the years I have had the pleasure of her company but occasionally she out does herself as evidenced below by the few I have stopped to take a picture of before diving headfirst into the bliss that is her baking.
I simply don’t enjoy anyone else’s cake as much anymore. I have good reason not to. Look at all these goodies in this screenshot from her Instagram @momobakescake. Please do show her some love if you love what you see as much as I do!
Monique, I know this blog wasn’t written with your knowledge but I just had to tell the world how amazing you are. Thank you dear friend, you and your love of food have really brought so much light into my life. Your love and caring really makes our lives so much brighter. Thank you!
For all you foodies, order a cake or two from her. She bakes a large variety of other desserts too. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Of second chances and coffee, and the different sides of human nature.
Many Houstonians may be unaware of this but Houston, and Texas in general, is the largest center for human trafficking in the States. Why am I bringing this up today? I suppose it might be because I know what it is like to be thought of as property and an investment rather than a person and a human being.
Thankfully, I do not carry the scars of the molested and the raped and enslaved. But I know people who do. As a woman and as a human, the thought that somewhere near me at this very moment many people are being treated like cattle for sale, as though they carry no thoughts of their own, as though their lives and their stories do not matter and they exist only to please their sick masters…it makes my blood boil.
I imagine myself or my loved ones helpless, held captive, taken somewhere strange, used and abused by my jailors and their customers. I imagine the loss of hope and the embrace of the dark despair that resides in every soul as it holds tight and refuses to let mrgo, much like the horrible excuses for human beings subjecting me to that torture. I imagine being a pet, or less than a pet, kept barely alive and unaware of where I am, eventually forgetting everything from Before and forcing myself into believing I was willingly involved in this just to keep my sanity. I imagine being grateful for any morsel thrown my way. I imagine wanting death over life. I imagine giving up.
I imagine all this and am grateful that I am not in that position. To all of you who have been through this inhumane ordeal, I do not know the scars you carry but I do know that if you were strong enough to survive it all, someday you will be strong enough not only to survive but to thrive. There are many people out there who can and do exploit others for their greed, their malice, their petty pride. On the other end of the spectrum,however, are people who cannot understand why anyone would be so horrible to another human being. They simply want to help heal. Some of them have been through what you went through or are going through. I know that it isn’t easy to accept help or trust in the words of a stranger, but the other side of humanity does exist. Some day, you will come to know that. Until then, there are places for you to go and find solace. I visited one of these locations recently and received comfort of my own.
Unimpressive from the outside, “A Second Cup” is a cafe run by volunteers who do everything from make coffee and food to clean, trying to help survivors of human trafficking with all the proceeds from sales. In addition, they help spread the word that help is out there; an entire wall is dedicated to groups that help everyone from young children to adults.
Comfort is evident in the many colors, both bright and mute, the couches and tables placed meticulously in a spacious room. Even the bathroom door has words of encouragement. Another feature that isn’t common in other cafes is that they have a fully functional shower. For those feeling threatened or those who haven recently been rescued, this is a huge source of comfort. Knowing there is somewhere you can go and just relax after the constant hostility of survival in a brutal environment is the greatest feeling of all.
Some of the volunteers at the cafe are survivors themselves who have gathered enough courage to help others. To top it all off, they make great coffee as evidenced in the picture below. May I say that it was delicious enough that I am still thinking about it more than a week later…
A Second Cup is tangible evidence that second chances do come around and that you can and should take advantage of them.
Not only was the experience refreshing, it left a lasting impression on me. If any of you are ever in the Houston area, be sure and stop by Second Cup. Maybe someday, somewhere, someone else will help you with your second chance too!