Tu-esday Food Adventures: Maryland

Last week, I hung out with two of my close classmates from college. One of them is off to go to veterinary school, so we decided to have one last get together before she left. We decided to meet up at Montgomery Mall, located in Bethesda, Maryland. It was the perfect middle point between all three of us since I live in Northern Virginia (NoVA) and they live around Gaithersburg. According to them, Montgomery Mall is going to be the only mall left in Maryland – at least near where they live. Any other mall nearby is either a dead-zone or about to shut down completely.

It was a bit of a struggle for me to find where the food court was there since I’ve only been there once in my life. That mall is huge, too. Maybe not as big as Tyson’s Corner, but it’s still fairly large. My friends ended up coming to look for me because I was that lost….oops.

Anyway, we decided to grab a quick lunch at the food court. I wish I had a picture to show you guys how it looked. The food court was very modernized and contemporary – a lot nicer than the food court at Tyson’s. We all ordered waffles from a placed called “Wicked Waffle.” Not only did they sell your regular breakfast waffles, they also had interesting combos like Peking duck waffles and tiramisu waffles. I heard of this place before since they have a location in D.C., which received a lot of praise.

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My friends ordered the egg whites and grilled veggies, sweet potato fries, and the fried chicken and waffles. I got the mango and brie waffle. The waffles were pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside but airy and soft on the inside. I’m not a big fan of those super dense waffles, so this was perfect for me. The taste of them wasn’t overly sweet or salty, either. The egg whites and grilled veggie waffle wasn’t anything to really rave about, though. This plate came out like a sandwich. The amount of egg whites inside the sandwich probably filled up around half of the inside. There were probably only seven slivers of grilled bell peppers. Although the eggs whites and vegetables were flavored nicely, I wish that there was more! It was each of our first meal of the day, so we all wanted something to fill us up.

The chicken and waffles was pretty good. The fried chicken was a little spicy, so it had a nice kick to it. The meat wasn’t dry either. It was moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. They dusted powdered sugar over the plate so the chicken had a nice sweetness factor to it. Only thing I’d change about this is the saltiness. The chicken was flavorful, but it was way too salty! I noticed myself grabbing my water to drink every time I took a bite out of it.

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Next is the dish that I ordered: the mango and brie waffle. I’ve always been a fan of brie. It probably is one of my top five cheeses of all time. I just love how smooth and soft it is. The taste isn’t that overpowering either so it pairs well with fruits like strawberries and mangoes. This was the first item on the menu that caught my eye so I had to order it. You can never go wrong with a fruit and cheese combo. The mango was sweet and had a little bite to it which went well with the soft and savory brie. On top of that, there were a few slices of jalapenos which gave the entire dish a bit of a kick. I really enjoyed my dish just because it had both my favorite cheese AND fruit.

Last, but not least, are the sweet potato fries. For those who know me, I love fries. Sometimes I end up staying up late at night because I’m craving fries.

Yes, my love for fries is that bad.

My favorite type of fries is the thinly cut ones so it’s super crunch on the outside. These sweet potato fries really hit the spot for me. The fries were julienned, which means that they were cut into long, thin strips. Once they hit the oil, these fries crisp up beautifully, leaving the inside moist and tender.

YUM!!!

I personally really liked eating these fries by themselves. The cashier told us that a customer really enjoyed eating the fries with whipped cream, so he gave us a cup of it. I was a bit confused at first, but I gave it a try. Honestly, it wasn’t anything that special. Just whipped cream with potatoes. I usually like my fries with ketchup and mustard, so I wasn’t impressed. If I were to try it again, I would have to crave it or would want to consume all the deep fried, oily goodness that day.

Am I the only one who occasionally feels like eating my weight in food?

After lunch, we decided to stop by a new dessert store that sold cookie dough. My friends and I were excited to try this place since there’s been a lot of talk about a store in New York that sells this. The people in that video made it seem as if it was the best thing in the world, so we had high expectations.

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Shout out to my friend’s overgrown manicure!!!

Anyway, we ordered the Oreo cookie dough at “Cookie Dough & Co,” which came with a shot of milk.

It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever had.

I actually thought I shoved a spoonful of sugar into my mouth. It was soooooo sweet. Disgustingly sweet. The three of us could not finish such a tiny cone because we all thought that we were going to get diabetes after eating it. Seriously.

I don’t even know why anyone would crave cookie dough in the first place. I checked their website and so many people raved about it, and I’m not really sure what the hype was about. I would never come back here. I got my Instagram pic so I have no reason to come back haha.

Our last stop was a new boba joint called “Lab Café,” located in Rockville Towne Center.

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From left to right: taro milk tea, plum sparkling tea, and unique milk tea.

Taste: Eh. It tasted like Kung Fu Tea, which I’m not a very big fan of. The taro milk tea tasted like it was made from powder. The unique milk tea didn’t taste unique at all. All I tasted was the powdered creamer. It wasn’t even well-shaken so I felt the grittiness of the powder. The plum sparkling tea was probably the best even though it wasn’t that special either. It was literally the Chinese plum drink with soda. I could’ve made it at home.

Presentation: I’d give more points to their presentation than their taste just because I liked the mustache on the straws. Their logo is pretty cute too.

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I’d probably come back here just to hang out. Their drinks aren’t the best, but they’re not bad either. I would try something else since they have a lot on their menu. The overall design of the store is nice too. It has a cozy feel to it and I can see myself studying here or socializing with friends. There’s also nice wall art, as shown above, which is perfect for your daily Snapchat and Instagram.

Well, that concludes my second food review. Overall, everything I consumed was ok. I’m sure that over time each food place will improve, since they’re all fairly new. I hope that other people have better experiences in the future!

To end this post on a good note, here’s a picture of me with my friends. Our facial expressions really show each of our personalities. Bubbly, weird, and sassy. 😊

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JJangie Trends: Hibeko

Ordering online is probably one of the riskiest things to do – especially shopping for clothes. People tend to worry whether the sizing is right for them or if the colors suit their tones. Most importantly, is the quality in the material worth the money you pay for it?

Recently this year, I discovered a shop called Hibeko while sorting through various Instagram models.

As expected, it is an online store only, and their shipments are based in Los Angeles, California.

Usually when I come across potential stores to pick through, truthfully, I am a “picky eater” to the name of the brand at the start. In this case, the title itself gave its own charm.

Hibeko is a hand-made, street-styled clothing brand for both men and women to enjoy. For those who are not familiar with the term, street style is majorly associated with youth culture by the influence of popular music, trends, and major urban centers.

For the individuals who would love to rock a cool and unique brand while working a nice color aesthetic, this store is a GO!!

My first two purchases from the site were their very own Autograf Hoodie which I chose in the shade of sand, which is more of a light creme color, and a Showstopper Hoodie in jet black. In the end, I did pay a hefty price in the end for just two items ranging a little over $100. The products took about a little over a week in domestic shipping to arrive since I do live in the West Coast.

Prior to my first look, both came in the brand’s own custom black tag attached by a sleek black string and a small black safety pin. Now, some might think I am crazy.

“Who would pay that amount of money for such apparel?!” so here’s what to expect!


Hibeko’s Autograf Hoodie is somewhat similar to a basic-everyday kangaroo hoodie a person would wear to stay warm during the fall and winter seasons. This item was released in the site’s SS-17 Essentials Collection along with various of other shades and title-printed sweaters. However, what really gives the street-styled feel to the hoodie is the fact that it is a bit oversized when you match with your true size. With the over drop shoulders, the style gives a nice baggy aesthetic without overdoing it. Unlike other Instagram shops where sizing majorly comes from Chinese manufacturers and dealing with the difference in “Asian Size”, this is just right.

In addition, an autograph of “HBKO” is across on both sleeves and a small print on the left chest with its clean black strokes. Depending on the shade of the hoodie, the autographs can come in different colors to suit its base. As for the quality, the sweater is soft and has quite the strong material to last for quite a long time.


The “Showstopper Hoodie” places itself in its own spotlight in my heart! Out of the two products, this sweater is by far my favorite. Not only did I like the the color  but the thickness of the material is what really got me surprised. For this, I really recommend wearing this only in cold seasons. Like the previous, the sizing does come a bit oversized when matching with my true size – especially the hood. If you are a daring fashionista who would wear a full-on black outfit during warmer weathers, this item would definitely suit your taste. As for its features, there are three horizontal rose gold zipper slits: two on each sleeve (both can open) and one fake zipper across the chest.


Another unique aspect of this hoodie is the two invisible pockets on the sides that make an illusion of a simple pullover, and the thick hemming along the bottom makes the apparel seem longer in length. Curving it to the back left corner is a “HBKO” stamp officially sewn.

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As much as I really liked the brand name, I was really worried more of how the clothes would come out compared to the display on the site. Nonetheless, I worried for nothing! The materials are quite well made, and the light street-style fashion brings great satisfaction.

All in all, I was very content in terms of strong quality in the make of the products. In my eyes, I think many dancers would be very fond of this style. Though some would oppose by saying, “You’re mainly paying for the name,” but I beg to differ with this particular shop since the price really does represent this store’s individuality. I would surely buy from this shop again in the future but maybe not in bulk.

Next time let’s try piece by piece, so my wallet doesn’t cry in the end.

Since summer is here and the heat is on the rise, I suggest checking out the Summer 17 for their latest collections while staying cool!

Step 1: Honesty

Honesty is the best policy.

Or is it?

When I was in middle school, making friends depended on how I spoke and what I spoke about. I talked about things that I thought people liked, and I crumbled even if I didn’t think it was right. In other words, I had two personas – public and private. My public side was very into the current trends, things that the people around me liked. Public Me wanted to make friends everywhere even if that person’s ideas didn’t match my own. Public Me was loud – she wanted to be heard in anyway she could.

Private Me had all the thoughts, the ideas, and the potential but kept it stored away out of fear.

After my first friend purge, my first genuine best friend got me to stand up for myself – something I never actually considered doing. I was okay letting my friends walk all over me if it meant keeping them. Once I stood up for myself the first time, I couldn’t go back.

Why do we assume that people will only like one side of us?

Private Me was a different kind of loud – she was assertive, and she had all the thoughts that needed to be heard. But she saved those thoughts for the Internet or whatever other media outlet she could find. The private side of me stayed hidden within the confines of my computer screen. Then I suddenly had an epiphany –

How could I ever expect to make friends who I’d be willing to have for the rest of my life if I only ever show them one side? And what was the purpose of having both sides? Was I protecting myself? Who was I saving?

I wasn’t saving anyone. I was hurting myself. I kept these thoughts tucked away for the sake of having people around me.

So – honesty first.

Friends second.

It’s easy to talk to people, but what are you supposed to talk about? Do I talk about something I think you’ll like or do I talk about what’s on my mind? To whom do I cater this conversation to? And that’s where my lesson had finally been realized.

I needed to close the gap between Private and Public Me. As time went on, I made the decision to combine the two. The public persona brought the private to light, and the private kept the public from only focusing on what other people liked. There was definitely a result.

People started to tell me I was “real.” What does that mean? I’m being honest, how is that real? Is there such a shortage of honesty in the world that it has become an anomaly? Friends, friends, friends – they all said the same things, and I just let myself continue to be honest.

Honesty, however, does not always guarantee a common thought. I stayed honest, but when my words contradict your own thoughts, I became something else. I was no longer “real,” I was judgmental – I was insensitive, I was inconsiderate. All these things made me think I needed to change again.

But did I really? It wasn’t that I changed over time, but my thoughts no longer consistently aligned with the people around me. Suddenly I became the bad guy. I was no longer “real,” and there became a floating assumption that I’m hiding a part of myself from the world.

Trust me – I’m not.

If I’m hiding anything, it’s something I, myself, have not even discovered. There are no surplus thoughts underneath this image I’ve created for myself. I worked hard to make sure my visage matched my thoughts.

Believe it or not – I’m honest from day one. Until I find a legitimate reason to lie to you, I will not because there would be no purpose. I would be lying for the sake of lying.

Step 2:  Friends, but Step 3:  Consistency.

There’s a reason for this long explanation into why I act the way I do, and here it is.

If honesty comes first, what reason do I have to lie to get people to like me? And hand-in-hand with that, why should I have to fight when someone says otherwise?

Truthfully, there is no reason. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. I learned just yesterday that the ones who cherish their friends are the ones who stick to their convictions. Childish rumors and hasty actions will not change that. Anyone who has anything to say about the way I act can only know that speaking badly of me will only make the reaction to seeing the truth that much more satisfying for me. Say what you want – you’re still speaking of me.

In this day and age, young adults have all become truth-seekers. In the presence of malice, they pursue the side that makes the most sense, and the side that doesn’t is the one spattered with red in the end.

True or false:  the truth finds you.

False.

You need to find the truth on your own.

Working in Retail Fixed Me

There are certain aspects of one’s personality that need to be adjusted but go by unnoticed.

Today at work, I was asked to watch a video by a motivational speaker who told of his experience with one Starbucks partner at a Minnesota airport terminal. He said he’d never forget this encounter due to that partner’s genuine interest in her customers’ lives.

“I don’t want them to come back to Starbucks; I want them to come back to me.”

Such a recollection like this brought me back to one customer interaction I had over a year ago. Actually, I don’t really remember the first time I met this customer. It was during a holiday season, and, for retailers, you know that the holidays are when you meet and interact with the most people in one day.

It’s difficult to maintain a perfect customer experience when you need to balance these two concepts:

  1. Show a sense of urgency.
  2. (but) Be patient with your customer.

In other words, I need to help you in a reasonable amount of time without making you feel like I’m pressuring you because there are other people in the store. And in balancing these two principles, occasionally, that customer service ability might dwindle down as you go through your day.

Again, I don’t actually remember the first time I spoke to this customer.

However, she definitely remembered me.

The next time I heard of this particular woman, it was actually through her friend who wasn’t even my customer. As this woman was being helped by someone else, I threw in my two cents about a product, and she smiled.

“You helped my friend the first time she came here. She told me about you.”

This was the first time I’d heard this in my few years working at the same location. She then went into detail saying that her friend is now an avid shopper at the location by where she lived. She only visited them once a year, and it was always just after the Christmas rush. I was honest with her and said I couldn’t really remember, but I couldn’t hide the joy in my face at the thought that this one customer enjoyed her experience at the store to the point where she’d tell her friends and family.

Some weeks later, the same woman came back to the store – this time with the friend I had helped.

While I vaguely remembered her at first, the interaction came back to me. She spoke to me with such enthusiasm about how I showed her everything she needed to know and that she had to come back to see me. She was frank; she didn’t need to buy anything that day. She just wanted to see how I had been.

We then delved into how I got into this job, why I was still there, and why I enjoyed it so much.

I think every young adult who works retail says this at least once with a tired spirit –

“I hate this job.”

Sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t.

I’ve definitely said this before, more than once, in fact. At the end of the day though, I really don’t hate it. Granted, once I’ve finished this chapter of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever return to the world of retail, but I can genuinely say that without this job, my view on how people should treat one another as a whole has changed.

So what makes working at Teavana so rewarding and life-changing?

I’m not just selling a product that, at first glance, seems overpriced. I’m not here to take your money for my benefit, to have my name on a sheet of paper that says I’ve sold this much to you.

I’m here to help you improve your life in whatever way I can.

Tea helps people. It’s helped me, so I believe that it can help someone else, too. I will in no way whatsoever sell you bullshit – as some might say. If I don’t believe this product can help you, I’ll tell you. I want you to leave my store knowing that I’ve helped you take the first step to achieving a goal – the task you’ve shared with me. Think back to that scene in Miracle on 34th Street when Santa pointed a customer in the direction of another store, and suddenly it was seen as a revolutionary thing – putting the customer’s needs first.

I’ve had people tell me that I helped them cut sugar out of their diet which led to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve helped customers going through chemotherapy by showing them things that will keep them comfortable. I’ve shown parents ways they can bring the family together.

Mostly, I hope that I’ve shown my customers that I genuinely care. From the woman who’s allergic to apples to the man who knows that he’ll enjoy whatever drink I make for him – I care about them all. I want them all to know that I pay attention, and I will continue to do so until I’m done with this job.

My job does not stop when I clock out; it will stop when I no longer work here. And even then, the world of retail surpasses the job itself.

You learn other basic things that aren’t really seen as common sense nowadays. I’ve moved up in this job from a part-time salesperson to one of the managers, and while it put more pressure on me, I certainly learned a thing or two.

Taking constructive criticism is the number one thing – not from your peers, but from your customers. There are rude ones and there are polite ones, and generally, the polite ones are the people who want to see you succeed. It isn’t a hit to my pride to get feedback. Receiving this feedback also helped me gear it towards other customer service workers who aren’t displaying the kind of service I’d show to my customers.

Regardless of your position in this world, customer service can be interchangeable with simply being a good person. Do not be selfish, keep in mind the person’s background, and don’t let your bad day turn someone else’s day sour.

Another short story – something that was a sign to me that I had grown as an individual in a world of adults who still don’t know how to treat people.

It was on a ride, some ride – no need to go into specifics – and my mother began to exhibit signs of claustrophobia. Anyone with a phobia knows that you should treat the situation seriously and with consideration to the individual.

“Ma’am, if we let you off the ride it will take half an hour, we need to shut off the ride, take everyone out of the cart, and call an operator to do this. The ride is one minute, would you rather I inconvenience everyone to get you out?”

No need to fast forward – I was livid.

How could anyone think that was the proper way to treat this conversation? We were customers just like anyone else. God forbid, the claustrophobia was worse than it actually was. Needless to say, I kept a straight face; I did not argue, but I began to form a conversation in my head.

The moment we were off, I ushered my parents to the waiting area and walked up to the beginning of the line to the ride once more. I asked for the manager on duty which surprised the worker. She radioed the man in charge, and he met up with me in no time.

I spoke calmly and professionally. I look young, but I will not act adolescent. This is an adult conversation, and I will treat it as such.

“I just wanted to point out something, but first, I just want you to know I am not here to argue or put you or the rest of your staff in a position that would make things tense. I work in customer service, so I need to point out something that happened in case it happens in the future.”

He responded to my demeanor, did not argue, and acted with respect because I treated him with respect. I’ve handled customers in the past who have argued with me, but I still responded in accordance to how I should have. You can argue with me, but I will not argue with you. As long as you are my customer, I will treat you as such.

Lessons learned from retail surpass your own job; they help you in the real world when others might not even recognize your actions. People are people, and this job helped me learn how people need to be treated.

Take on a retail job once in your life. Trust me – it helps.

“I Am No Stranger to Strangers.”

(Old image featured – 2015)

I am no stranger to strangers.

Every time something shifts in my life, I momentarily forget past occurrences and only look forward. My memory gets foggy, and the concept that “this seems familiar” disappears for half a second.

Thinking back, this is not the first time I’ve heard these words, sunk into these feelings, or received these blows. However, I do know one thing for sure – I’ve finally learned to handle it the way I should.

When it comes to red flags, it may or may not be obvious. For some people I meet, I get this anxious feeling. This particular knot that says,

Be friendly, but do not trust.

And when I feel this, I am sure to be on my guard. Do not get too close, do not reveal too much, and do not let them in.

The second kind of red flag comes in stages. There is a series of yellow flags before the red, and only when the red appears is it too late. When I was younger, I disregarded yellow flags for the sake of giving the benefit of the doubt – something I realized I am more than notorious for giving blindly.

I can recall a memory from when I was 14.

I was visiting a church with a friend who I now call stranger. I sat, feeling out of place when a girl walks in. She walked with confidence, and she had a presence that I admired. She was much older, much more mature than us.

I don’t like her. She’s full of herself. The underside of her hair is blue, and it’s tacky. No one likes her.

As my friend said this, I took her words and applied it over the girl’s image. Yet even as I did, the other young girls my age flocked her and showered her with compliments. In the midst of her mini gathering of fans, she turned to me.

Oh, you’re new! What’s your name? Are you coming here regularly now? I haven’t been here in a while, so I’m sorry if I didn’t recognize you.

I wanted to think she had on a facade for the sake of making a good first impression, but to this day, I really don’t think she was. We talked about her hair, and later she introduced me to her friend with whom I kept in contact with for some time.

From that small experience, I should have known better that your friends’ impressions of people become your own impressions. But what if that wasn’t a real friend? Would that make their impressions invalid?

I am no stranger to strangers.

Once at 10, once at 14, and again once more at 22.

There is no age limit for lessons to be learned. Fate will make you experience the same situations over and over again – same circumstances, different people – same feeling, different words said – until you finally learn which way is the right way.

So what have I learned?

Those who have high standards for whom they trust but who are not trustworthy are not to be regarded, and their impressions of me will not change my impression of myself.

Memories, once invalid, lose all sentimental value. When you originate the initial problem to its start date, all fond and happy moments lose meaning. Now, they are merely occurrences experienced with a stranger. Do not give them weight.

The friend who is meant to stay in your life will never leave. True friends have a purpose in your life, and regardless of the amount of time spent, there is more to be done. They are the non-romantic soulmates who will keep aiding along your spiritual growth. You may not always agree with each other, but you always find your way back. Being annoyed with each other is a natural thing, but if you let that annoyance tear you two apart, then it’s time to say goodbye.

I will not try to save a sinking ship that keeps sabotaging itself whether its intentional or not. The life savers on that ship have been thrown to me, but I will not bend. A sabotaged ship can save no one.

There is a reason why I say I trust my friends blindly.

Do what you want, I am not your keeper.

Make your mistakes because it is your life to live.

I will turn a blind eye to the malice others see because I befriend your character – your being – not your actions.

I trust you with my eyes shut because the moment a line is crossed, I can open my eyes, see you for the person I let you be, and turn away. That blind trust is gone, and you are a stranger once more.

There is no magical place where all lost friendships go. They dissipate into thin air, and life goes on. I let it go, and I won’t hold on.

It isn’t worth saving.

Temporary friends add filter to your vision that you must remove once they depart.

The genuine friends are the ones who keep your sight clear.

Being Friends with a Beauty Blogger

We’ve all seen them. Whether you follow their full posts online or rapidly hit the ‘like’ button when their faces appear on your Instagram feed, beauty bloggers are taking over the fashion scene, each with their own unique sense of style and presence. There’s a mild sense of intimidation when you see that ‘k’ next to their follower count, and it plants the idea in your head.

“Will my following ever be that big?”

Honestly? It’s difficult. However, I’ve learned so much from befriending a beauty blogger. Of course, when I met her, she wasn’t nearly as famous as she is now, and her follower count grows by the day.

The truth behind it all is that beauty bloggers are human beings just like anyone else. When you’re friends, you see that past the flawless photos and the thousands of likes, they are – to the core – normal people with normal problems.

They’ve just learned to hide it so much better than the average blogger.

Now, becoming friends with a beauty blogger is like being friends with anyone else, and I think this is something commonly misconstrued by anyone who thinks that just because they’ve received a reply from someone with more than 100 followers, they’re suddenly besties. No, it never works out this way. Remember, fame is a blessing and a curse. Using their friendship to fund your own goals is just being selfish.

Don’t ask for favors.

Don’t spread their personal stories.

Don’t fight their battles.

The best route to go? Just be a friend. Be there when they need you. Be there when they need to rant about today’s photoshoot or when they realize this model is a total jerk because believe it or not – they’re telling you because they trust you, not because they need the attention.

Shouldn’t that be the obvious part?

I’ve learned so many rewarding things from my friend. She’s a sweet, honest girl with normal college problems like anyone else. She’s like my little sister, and I trust her with things I don’t normally trust other people with. At the end of the day, I love that we’re comfortable enough with each other to get mad and tell the truth without the fear of losing that bond.

So the moral of this post? A famous friend is still a friend.

And don’t think any differently.