Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Confidence

As soon as I saw this photo challenge of the week, I just got really excited. Love. My favorite topic of all time. I am honestly surprised when it hasn’t been chosen before (after all, it does play a huge role in everyone’s lives). But choosing just one picture was hard. There were so many picture I could choose from: pictures of my family, friends, significant other… But I finally settled on this one.

One of the most important types of love is the love for oneself. Today, I’d say I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m proud to be Crystal Leung, a young woman taking on New York, 1000 miles away from home. But I definitely haven’t always been this way. I have never had serious self esteem issues, but there are always days in which I could have used some confidence. I’m not the most outgoing person. When people first meet me, they’d see a shy, quiet girl (that’s probably a little awkward). And I have always been very self conscious of how I act because I’ve always feared that I’d turn people away. I’d try to dispel labels of “shy” and “weird” by trying to act the opposite: outspoken and cool. Whatever I thought “outspoken” and “cool” were, anyway. But I don’t know why I cared so much. It stressed me out when I didn’t get the reactions I wanted. There were always quotes and morals of stories telling me to just be myself, but I never fully understood the meaning behind that.

I stumbled across this quote on Instagram and it opened my eyes. Deep down, I was just afraid of rejection and being made fun of (who doesn’t?). But by accepting myself for who I am, I don’t need to hide behind a fake persona when I first meet someone new. There’s no need for a lampshade because the light is beautiful by itself. Here I am. And if you don’t like me, well, I’m not offended. It’s your loss. :)

Chef Crystal’s Gourmet Chicken

Not exactly gourmet… but close enough. This is actually by first time cooking ever (real food, and not just microwavable foods or instant noodles) and I got to say, I’m pretty proud of myself. Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Potatoes and Green Beans

I didn’t edit any part of this picture, so this is the REAL DEAL. No photoshopped glaze or anything. The dish is simply lemon and garlic chicken with potatoes and green beans and I found the recipe here (thank you Pinterest!). The ingredients asked for 4 chicken breasts, but I used 6 thighs (with the skin on) instead and kind of eye-balled the amounts of green beans and potatoes when I bought them at the store. The flavor comes from lemon (I used 1 instead of 2), garlic, olive oil (extra virgin), and of course, salt and pepper. There’s about 4-6 servings in this one batch.

Overall, this was a pretty simple dish. And it’s healthy (baked too)! The skin was perfectly crispy and it was delicious. It took about an hour to bake but it’s inexpensive and very simple to put together (perfect for cheap college students or even those who are looking to save an extra dollar or two). Do please share with me your input if you try this recipe at home! I’d love to hear what you guys did/see pictures. Happy cooking!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

This week’s photo challenge is definitely my favorite so far: I love taking pictures with big contrasts between the source of light and the rest of the scenery.

A couple weeks ago, I spent the day/evening with a special person in my life. We went to the Downtown Aquarium and enjoyed looking at/making fun of interesting looking fish. It was wonderful. But when we walked out, the sight was even better.

Water Fountain at the Downtown Aquarium, Houston, TXThis fountain was just outside the entrance and the lighting was too gorgeous to pass up for a quick photo.

On a side note, something happened to me today while I was sitting in upon my chair of wisdom, pondering life. I came up with something completely cliche, but bottom line, it’s still true. My “special person” and I are currently in a long distance relationship, and we celebrated our 2 year anniversary about a month ago. It’s definitely not easy having over 2000+ miles separating us, but the distance has taught us to appreciate the time we spend with each other. Really make the effort to reach out and spend time with your loved ones, because you never know how much time you’ll have together. Enjoy it, because for those people, it’ll always be worth it.

New Year, New Mantra (Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved)

This year will be a fresh start for me. In 2012, I definitely put more stress on myself than was necessary. Everyone does. So my new year’s resolution is as follows:

New Year, New Mantra

So far, I’ve been stress free. Probably because this winter break has been treating me well, but this is what I need before getting back to work in a week. So I will say that this resolution has been resolved (for the time being).

But if you can’t let go of your worries, then at least keep things positive. Attitude changes everything. Stay positive and look for the “silver lining” in everything you see and do. EXCELSIOR.

Also, if you haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook already, and are looking for a cute, feel-good movie, go see it. It’s good.

Floundering Around in Fisherman’s Wharf

Today, my dad decided that we had “too many type A people in the car.” I don’t know exactly what he meant, but it was probably along the lines of “we have too many stubborn people to make a consensual decision.” In other words, he thought we spent too long wandering the streets of San Francisco than we spent enjoying the city. But it’s okay. We did get some sightseeing done after all – something is better than nothing, right? :)

My parents, brother and I began our day around mid-afternoon, after brunch. We headed to the Golden Gate Bridge (a must-visit!). It was a tad windy up there, but the structure was incredible and awe-inspiring. I also learned many things about physics that I probably should have learned in high school… (Did you know that it takes less force to hold up the bridge if the two towers were taller than shorter??)


At the end of the day, we found ourselves on Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf. For those unfamiliar with the area, this particular pier is home to the Aquarium of the Bay, numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants, fun and games, sea lions, and more. I shared a Nutella and strawberry crepe with my brother from the Crepe Cafe (yum!) and as a family, we enjoyed the festive atmosphere. (Click for larger images)

                        

And also, for those who plan on visiting San Francisco (or just want to check out an awesome hotel), I recommend staying at Embassy Suites near the airport. It’s a jungle in there (literally!).

                                                        

And finally, happy New Year’s Eve everybody! Stay safe and enjoy the last day of 2012! Cheers and hope you enjoyed the post :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

This year, my parents, brother and I are celebrating the holidays in Lake Tahoe, California. The weather yesterday morning was cloudy, but at least it was not at all windy. That made skiing on Diamond Peak a little more bearable for me (I’m not the biggest fan — the heights scare me). Then it started snowing — light at first, but it became heavier as the day grew old. And so, I braved my first snow storm skiing down the side of a mountain (woohoo for a Texas native!).

The storm brought a very pleasant surprise the next morning. The weather was calm and sunny. Although our car almost got stuck in all the snow from the previous night, the view around the lake was beautiful, and getting stuck just allowed us more time for admiring.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas Texas anymore.

Holiday Lights and Brights

After spending a whole week crammed in my room grinding through finals, I couldn’t stand being indoors anymore. Thirty degree weather was not stopping this girl. So I grabbed a couple of friends and caught up on some much needed leisurely strolls through our giant playground. Here are a couple of shots from the night.

Lights All Night

Union Square, New York

Lights All Night

Bryant Park, New York

Sweet Serenity

Sweet Serenity

Sunbathing in Central Park

Earlier this fall, a special person and I spent the day enjoying paintings and sculptures galore at the Met. After we left the museum, we walked up and down the East Side looking for food, before finally settling on some street meat and having a picnic in Central Park. This picture is gorgeous by itself, but the fact that it was captured by my low quality camera phone just adds to the effect (not really, but imagine if I had a real camera – oh the possibilities!). And no, I am not one of the two figures huddled together in the foreground.

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