Liebster Award

One of my very favorite things about the blogging community is the friendship and support I’ve come to find from so many wonderful bloggers. I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Smiling Notes and mypinchofyum.

liebsteraward

Smiling Notes blog is a delightful ray of sunshine, full of fun adventures and delicious recipes. And Priti at mypinchofyum definitely opens up my world to new foods I wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Thanks to both of you for thinking of me.

I really enjoy writing these kinds of posts because they’re like a little glimpse into who I am.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their site.

2. Include the Liebster award sticker in your post.

3. Nominate ten other bloggers who you think are worthy of this award.

4. Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you and make ten questions of your own for your nominees.

Questions from Smiling Notes

1. What inspired you to start your own blog?

This was something I’d been contemplating for a long time. I studied creative writing in college, so having a blog always seemed like a natural thing I should just do. But every time I tried it felt forced, and when creativity isn’t organic, it doesn’t come out right. Honestly, the spark that finally made it happen came about one day when a coworker of mine said something about following your true passions. While I knew turning around and simply opening up a bakery wasn’t exactly going to happen, I knew I could immediately do this (a virtual cafĂ©) and start putting myself and the things I love out there. I don’t even remember exactly what she’d said, but it struck me hard, and as soon as I got home I created the site. It felt organic. It felt natural.

2. Who is your No.1 Support system in your life?

Different people support me in different ways. My parents have provided unrelenting support for me throughout my entire life. Their love has never once wavered. They are incredible and I love them dearly.

I have to say that the one person in my life who I can open up every single part of myself to–every thought big or small, every quirk, every delight and every mistake is my boyfriend, Brayden. He supports me no matter what. I’m lucky. I found my soul mate.

3. Do you speak any other languages apart from English?

Brayden and I are planning to start taking German classes soon. And I think Japanese is the most beautiful language.

4. One thing you cannot live without?

Right now, boba tea. Obsessed.

5. What is your favorite place/ destination that you have visited?

This one is tough. I’m torn between Ireland and Seattle, WA. Visiting Ireland was like a fairy tale; sometimes I can’t believe it even happened. Seattle is where I want to live my life every day.

6. Do you have any pets?

We’ve got plans for some fur babies!

7. Which is the best post that you have written so far? (please link it)

Rather than best post, I’d say the one I’m most proud of is my Homemade Brioche French Toast. It has certainly been the most fun to make and it really pushed me with my baking.

8. Which quality in people do you appreciate the most?

The first thing that comes to mind is “empathy.” I truly enjoy being around people who have the wherewithal to think outside of their own boxes, and in turn make the people around them feel at ease. It’s honestly more of an aura about a person. Almost as soon as I’ve met you, I know if we’ve made a connection or we haven’t.

9. What is your comfort meal on a lazy/ sick day?

Whatever’s currently baking in the kitchen!

10. What is your motto in life?

There is something good in every day. Enjoy the present moment.

Questions from mypinchofyum

1. What do you value most in your life?

My family of course, but also my freedom. I couldn’t imagine having that taken away. I also value food. A lot. Meal times are, like, the highlights of my day.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

See question #1 from the previous set 😉

3. Do you speak any other language apart from English?

This feels like deja vu. See #3 from the previous set.

4. What do you like the most – vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, lamb or seafood?

Vegetables for sure. There are so many to choose from and they are sooo good!

5. Which is your favorite spice?

Cinnamon

6. Best moment in your life?

Summer of 2012. Brayden and I were still in college and not yet living together, but I stayed at his apartment with him while I worked a summer job on our university campus. It would take a long time to explain why, but it was simply the best time of my life. We hiked mountains, played in the pouring rain and baked all the time. Now I get to live with him every day, and that’s pretty much the best time of my life, too.

7. Is there any food ingredient or dish that you will never eat?

Sorry to all you sushi fans out there (I know your love for it is fierce!), but I just can’t do it. I have tried it before, but the mere smell of sushi and rice wine makes me queasy 😩

8. Which is your favorite cuisine in the world and why?

Am I allowed to say pastries, breads and cheeses? I love all kinds of foods, but baked goods, particularly on the slightly sweeter side, make my heart sing.

9. What is your signature dish?

I feel so serious answering this question for some reason. I don’t know that I have a “signature dish”, but I think my muffin game is pretty spot on.

10. Where would you live if you could live anywhere you wanted on the Earth?

This is another really difficult one because there are so many amazing places. I feel this deep-seeded connection with docks, harbors, boats and large bodies of water, so I know I would want to live in a port city. As I mentioned above, Seattle is one of my favorite places in the world.

liebster-award

And now my questions:

1. What is your favorite taste: sour, sweet, salty, bitter or umami?

2. Describe a weird quirk of yours.

3. If you could be a part of the first society to colonize on Mars, would you do it?

4. Who is your favorite author?

5. What is your favorite season (time of year)?

6. Who would you rather be, Gandalf or Dumbledore?

7. What is your favorite meal of the day? (c’mon, you know it’s breakfast)

8. If you could live either in the mountains, near the ocean, in the countryside or in the city, which would you choose?

9. How do you get your emotions out?

10. What is your favorite smell?

❀

My super awesome nominees:

love the little bakery

Stylebychia

Crumbs and Tea

The Sugar Tin

Cozy Eats

Lifestyle Pastry

Milk, Chai & Honey

The Cinnamon Scrolls

ginandmorecake

Tragic Girls

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Infinity Dreams Award

My heart fluttered with joy when the wonderful blog “The Sugar Tin” nominated me for the “Infinity Dreams Award.” I think this kind of award reminds me of the very root of why I blog: because I have these simple passions, like baking and writing. Because I want to share the things I love.

Infinity Dreams Award

So the rules of the “Infinity Dreams Award” are pretty simple. Link back to the blogger who nominated you (thank you, Sugar Tin!), list seven personal dreams (no matter how big or small) and nominate a few other bloggers to continue the chain of positivity. 🌙

Here goes nothing!

1. Travel the world

Travel has always been indescribably important to me. I heard a quote once that went something like, if you only stay in one place for your entire life, you’ve never left the first few chapters. Seeing the world means seeing places I could never imagine, having new experiences I couldn’t fathom, encountering cultures that teach me something new about the way I view life.

2. Own a bakery/coffee shop/café

This is the one I get all giddy over, thinking about how my cafĂ© would look–how it would be comfy, casual, quiet, yet inviting. It’d be an everyday spot for regulars to relax and ease into their days with good service, a soothing atmosphere and food/drinks they’ll want to tell everybody about. It’d be a place where newcomers feel welcome and where it’s easy to bring a book or a friend along and stay for hours. To me, a great establishment is all about atmosphere, service and quality. But of course, even thinking about trying to start a brick and mortar establishment is scary and a little overwhelming. The desire for this is actually what ultimately influenced me to start this “virtual” cafĂ©. I’m always thinking about bigger plans though…it’s all baby steps, but you never know!

3. Find the love of my life

Okay, so I’m putting something on this list that has already come true, but it’s always been one of my very biggest dreams. It may sound cheesy, but I think my boyfriend deserves a lot of credit and recognition for the incredible person he is and what joy he brings into my life. It didn’t take long after meeting him to know that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s my absolute best friend in the world and he makes me smile every single day. I could never say how thankful I am for him.

4. Live in a society where environmental awareness is the norm

There are plenty of places out there that advocate for the importance of composting, recycling, reusing and generally paying mind to the way we affect our planet. But wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone everywhere devoted the time to it? Beyond waste management, I want society to put a greater focus on protecting and preserving this beautiful earth. It can be as simple as making little changes in the way you conduct your day-to-day life.

5. Move out of my home state

I love my home. I live in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and have lived here for my entire life, from quaint Gilbert to the heavily cultured Tucson to Scottsdale, chic and full of adventure. The mysterious, spell-binding desert landscape, the gorgeous mountains on every horizon, and the majestic saguaro cacti will always capture my heart, but I have this burning desire to experience new landscapes and ways of living.

6. Thank Hayao Miyazaki for his work

Japanese animation director and writer Hayao Miyazaki has had a profound influence on my life. From my first experience with his films as a child seeing Kiki’s Delivery Service to that awe-inspiring moment when I saw Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s films have shaped my outlook on the world. They make me feel like there really is magic out there, spiritual realms and amazing adventures to be had. His films capture the magic of child-like wonder, while also encouraging people to think about the big issues out there, like environmentalism. He’s brilliant. If I could, I would try to put into words what his work has meant to me over the years (I’d have to learn a little Japanese to try to tell him!).

7. It is quite difficult to think of seven dreams I have in my life because I know I’ll think of more later, or ask myself while lying in bed at night, why didn’t I include that? So I’ll end it with this: I hope that all of the people I love in my life will reach their own goals and dreams. None of it really matters if you don’t have the people you love around you to share in your happiness and triumphs. I have a beautiful family and friends–more than anything I want to see them all happy.

If you’ve read all of this, I truly thank you for taking the time to invest yourself in a few of the things that hold meaning for me.

Infinity Dreams Award

And now, here are my nominations for the “Infinity Dreams Award”:

Mypinchofyum

Mel in the Mitten

Thenotsocreativecook

The Dairy Free Baker

The Irish Blonde

soymilk on a sunday

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was recently nominated by Natascha’s Palace for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Natascha is a ridiculously talented cook (check out her “Fresh Strawberry Donuts”) and we’re lucky enough to have her share her delicious creations with us.

SisterhoodoftheWorldBloggersAward

I can’t even begin to describe how honored I am to be associated with such an awesome award that recognizes female voices in the writing/blogging world. Our thoughts, feelings, and the things that excite us can reach people from across the world because we have this platform to put ourselves out there and encourage each other. I’m proud to be a part of that.

You guys are seriously amazing. The fact that I have viewers as well as fellow bloggers who pay attention to what I am doing is really cool. And I have learned so much from reading your blogs–I especially love how they open my eyes to new cultures, foods, ideas, personal triumphs and experiences from all around this crazy, wonderful, beautiful earth. The collaboration of ideas, comments and encouragement is what makes blogging so fun. So thanks to all of my readers (bloggers or not) for your support.

Now that I’m done being all sentimental (I tend to do that a lot), let’s get to the RULES of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site

Include the award logo in your post

Answer the ten questions given to you

Nominate seven more bloggers and let them know

Make up ten new questions for them to answer

And now, my answers:

1. On bad days, how do you cheer yourself up?

Whenever I need a pick-me-up or just want to unwind, I grab a good book, head to a coffee shop and stay for hours. This is probably one of my very favorite things to do; simply relax in a calm, peaceful atmosphere, slowly sip a hot drink and dive into a new world. Currently, I’m reading the Lord of the Rings series. Sometimes I’ll bring a sketchbook to draw or bring my laptop along to write. Without fail, I always feel happy and refreshed.

2. What is your favorite food?

This is such a difficult question because it changes almost monthly. Food is so good. I will always love crepes and cinnamon rolls, and lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with ramen (my boyfriend and I go out for ramen weekly).

3. How do you let go?

I let go by recognizing that it’s all about your attitude. I can choose to let this thing affect me, or I can choose to let it go. Things are only as bad as you make them in your head.

4. How much do you value “silence”?

Silence sits near the very top of things I value most. In a world where we are being constantly stimulated, there are rarely times where we stop to take a deep breath and just exist. I love my quiet time–in fact, it’s silent right now in my apartment and it feels wonderful. I also have a hard time focusing when there is too much noise, so I’m often seeking a quiet place.

5. Will you tell the truth to someone even if you know it will hurt them, or lie to make them feel better?

I’m a sugar-coater. I hate seeing people upset and I hate confrontation, so it’s hard for me to be blunt with people sometimes. However, if it concerns a matter where they really need to hear the truth for their own good or safety, I won’t hesitate to say what needs to be said. But often times, people just need to feel good and have a bit of encouragement. I think it’s okay to say things to lift someone up, even if you might personally think differently.

6. Do you have faith in humanity? Why or why not?

It really teeters back and forth with all of the chaos and the negative things going on, but there is too much good in this world to lose faith in humanity completely. There are too many genuine, goodhearted people out there contributing to this wonderful world and I think they’re much stronger than the bad stuff.

7. What is one thing you really wish would come true?

I wish I could make it so that everyone I love is always happy, taken care of and having fun in life. Also, I want to travel the world with my boyfriend, the love of my life, but we’re making that one come true together. ❀

8. How would you sum up your life in ten words or less?

Laughter, uncertainty, love, silliness–never growing up completely.

9. How do you express anger?

I’ve unfortunately got that hot-blooded Italian temper in my veins, but I’ll usually get it out by venting to someone I trust. Luckily my boyfriend thinks it’s cute when I get mad at generally pointless things, so I don’t feel as rotten when I start throwing pillows or something.

10. What is one thing that will completely turn you off about a person?

I cannot stand when someone treats you as if you are lesser than they are. Inconsiderate things like interrupting you or completely disregarding you when you speak.

Here are my seven nominations (no obligation to participate):

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers

This Lucky Monkey

With All My Affection

developmentalphase

Cooking With Team J

Marisa’s Italian Kitchen

Good Food Brain

Pam’s Yarns

💛

And finally, my questions:

1. If you could live in any fictional world, where would it be?

2. Coffee or tea?

3. What is your favorite book series or geeky fandom (television/movies, included)? If you don’t have one, which one fascinates you or captures your attention most?

4. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?

5. Describe one of your funniest moments, or the hardest you’ve ever laughed.

6. What is one thing that can always make you smile?

7. What are your thoughts on fine arts education in schools (for kids aged ~6-18 years)?

8. Would you rather have more money or more time?

9. What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

10. If you could give a giant “thank you” to anyone in your life, who would it be and why?

Clean Eating: My Typical, Everyday Breakfast

I love (adore, obsess over) super indulgent, sweet, doughy, delicious breakfasts, but if I ate like that every single morning, I wouldn’t feel too hot for the rest of the day. So I figured I would write a bit about my everyday, go-to breakfast. This is the kind of thing I put together quickly on the way out the door on a weekday morning.

My Everyday Breakfast

On just any old Monday-Friday, I’ll usually have something that is nutrient-dense, low on wheat (or gluten-free if I can manage it), and has a good source of healthy fat or protein. What that usually translates to is a yummy, colorful yogurt parfait. Count colors, not calories 😉

I’ll usually include:

Greek yogurt, plain, vanilla or honey-flavored

Strawberries, raspberries, bananas, blueberries, blackberries or apples

Pecans or walnuts

Granola

And sometimes a sprinkle of chia seeds or coconut shavings

My Everyday Breakfast

It’s easy to throw all the fix-ins together to take on the go and I feel great for the rest of the morning, not sluggish or weighed down. Again, while I looove to indulge in a big breakfast, this is what makes me feel good on an everyday basis. I’d love to hear about what you like to eat most mornings. You can never share too much love when it comes to the most important meal of the day ❀

My Everyday Breakfast

Why I Love the Morning

I don’t fit the typical definition of a “morning” person. I (usually) hate getting up early, I sleep in late most of the time and I can’t function until I’ve gone through all of my morning phases and have had a good breakfast. Yet, I love morning. The air is clearer, fresher, and there is a feeling of tranquility that no other time of day can truly bring. And sunrise is one of the most gorgeous phenomenons I think we ever get to see.

Morning Sunflower

It seems strange that while I’m always told, “Alyssa, you are not a morning person,” it’s a time of day I still hold so dear. The thing is, I just need the time to really come into my own in the mornings–to actually wake up, ease into the day, and fully soak up every aspect of it. I’m not a quick, grab-and-go kind of person. I’m slow. I like to enjoy things fully. That’s why waking up early, popping out of bed and heading out the door is almost a complete nonoccurrence for me.

But sitting here out on my balcony just after sunrise, I feel at peace, happy and refreshed. My world is undisturbed. It only exists of the spell of the morning, the trees, and the three or four hummingbirds that catch my attention for the next half hour.

Morning Coffee

On those rare occasions when I choose to get out of bed very early (this morning because of sore muscles and a stomach ache), I make sure to enjoy the magic of morning. There is a sweetness to the air, a crisp coolness that feels revitalizing. You’re more in tune with the world in the early morning–with nature, I think. Especially on a  Sunday morning, not everyone has quite begun their day yet. Instead of the rumble of cars and shouting of voices, I hear the chirping of birds, and the sound of rustling wind. I notice the vibrance of green on the leaves and I take the time to look up at the clouds in the sky, like dense, puffy marshmallows hanging on invisible strings. In these simple moments, I cannot help but become shrouded in nature’s spell.

Above all else, stopping to see and feel the true beauty of a quiet morning, a foggy mountaintop or a trickling stream, can bring such warmth and goodness to our souls. Whatever it may be that brings you peace and calm–whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed, embrace that thing. Don’t neglect, but rather, take care of yourself and feel peace.