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!
A couple of weekends ago, I had the good fortune of having a day off on a beautiful spring day. As everyone who has ever lived in Houston will tell you, days like that are few and far between. Deciding to take advantage of the day, I had the pleasure of visiting the First Saturday Arts Market located in our Heights area. The outdoor market hosts different vendors each month, though many are repeat offenders and have become as familiar to us as we have to them with our frequent visits.
I have been a lover of the arts for a very long time and visit art related events whenever time and my budget allow me to. This visit was one of the most rewarding ones I have ever had.
On that beautiful day, I enjoyed a wonderful and unique flavor of shaved ice (I had the pomegranate and Blackberrys, with actual Blackberry chunks visible!) It was delicious, it was in an attractive cup, and it was a great conversation starter and attention grabber for myself and my companion. Many of the vendors wanted to know where we had gotten the shaved ice, how it tasted, what flavors we got, and if we would be holding on to the flower shaped plastic cups, and what we would make out of these cups…the conversation was lively and long and thoroughly enjoyable!
We browsed through several shoes, admiring their work and I was even able to take pictures of several of the pieces (with permission from the artists of course). While I couldn’t bring most of them home with me, I would like to promote their work in my own small way here, so here are a few of my loves from that day!
The red abstract was titled “Birds of Paradise” by LeeAnne Domangue and completely took my breath away! I really wish I could have brought that one home with me
The work with raised medium of flower on blue background was done by Joella Guaraglia Wheeler as was the painting of the flower in four tiles. I loved chatting with her and finding out about the different mediums she has been working with. Incredible person and an incredible artist!
The elephant was titled “Layered Beauty” and was done by the same artist that made the painting of the Wolf, Christina Todaro. Every artwork by her was exquisite both in detail and in imagery. She had journals covered in this beautiful art as well as several prints. For anyone who likes this art, I definitely recommend her.
I also had the chance to admire and eventually purchase some lovely pottery that day. I bought a gift for a friend and brought the rest home for the family. These beautiful pieces are all handmade and look great on my kitchen table! Thank you Delafield Pottery!
The crowning achievement of the day’s adventure to the market came after all this uplifting beauty. I became the proud owner of an absolutely inspiring painting titled the “Uphill Climb” by C.S. Ellington.
The story behind this painting is quite intriguing. I first saw the painting back in November, loved it and couldn’t afford it. The artist told me how someone had approached her for that painting asking her what it meant shortly after that but she hadon’t been able to reply simply because she didn’t yet know. After contemplating for a few weeks and taking the painting with her to several markets she realized what it meant to her: choosing the hard path because it is the correct one even when a different path would have been easier.
In her own words, “It is about choosing the more difficult things in life and how that is often the right thing (to do).”
Now, I had agreed to purchase the painting long before she explained any of its history to me. When she did tell me all the history and meaning behind it, I fell even more in love with the painting that seemed to portray everything that had come to pass and the crossroads I was at at that point in time. I just knew then that the painting had been mine all long. It was just waiting for me to reach out and take ownership of it. The connection was real.
It inspired me so much that I ended up writing a post on it on a different blog titled Uphill Climb. If you are interested, please do take a look at the story of my Uphill Climb.
We didn’t end the day there but the rest is a story for another day and another blog post. Needless to say, it was quite the invigorating and refreshing experience. For all of you out there that love art, please explore the local art culture in your community. I guarantee it will infuse you with the most creative and intense of thoughts. For those of you who are new to the world of art appreciation or are still on the fence about whether or not looking at these works is worth your time, just give it a try. I did and I have never looked back.
Though I am not an artist in any way, shape or form, the art world continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. Inspiration is everywhere. Art displays often become my muses.
Here is to art, to outdoor markets and to amazing memories! Cheers!