48 hours in Birmingham: Revelator Coffee

Added on by Tabitha.

Revelator Coffee in Nashville has become a favorite spot from which to work and meet people lately. The ambience is lovely and light (just like their coffee), the people who work there are super nice and the attached garage with free 1 1/2 hr parking makes things really easy.

One of the managers in Nashville recommended I check out their location in Birmingham where Revelator started and since I had a whole day to myself while here for the Southern Foodways Alliance's Food Media South, I took the opportunity to explore.

I was not disappointed. I want whoever designs their stores to design my kitchen and my home, TBH.

Read More

Happy 2016!

Added on by Tabitha.

The new year is just a few hours away and I'm equal parts excited and nervous for what it holds. 2015 was a good year for me and I know it's within my control (for the most part) to make 2016 just as good, if not better. 

2015 Highlights: This year I...

Let go of a few things and took on some new things.

Learned to acknowledge my abilities and limits (though this is always a work-in-progress!).

Became a godmother to my sister's first born.

Stopped declaring how "busy" I was every time someone asked me how I was and boy has that made a difference!

Lost my grandmother, the woman who raised me and who instilled in me a love for cooking.

Went to Dubai for the first time.

Got featured on Design*Sponge

Learned calligraphy.

Saw Stan Lee in the lobby of a hotel.

Started with LEAN Personal Training and am enjoying the shape my body's taken and how strong I've been feeling.

Learned to say "No."


I'm not usually one to make resolutions, I just try to improve on things I'm working on with more conviction. This year I hope to be better at:

Saying "no" to bad deals and "yes" to great opportunities.

Time management.

Calligraphy.

Taking time for myself.

Stepping away from my computer and putting my phone away.

Travel more.

So happy new year, everybody! May 2016 bring you joy, fun and what you hope to achieve.

 

Fractora - a day-to-day recap.

Added on by Tabitha.

Veering off from my usual food/what's happening in Nashville posts and letting you in on some more personal yet superficial stuff today.

As a teenager and through most of my adult life, I had a horrible habit of picking at my zits. It's a nervous tic, I pick at anything I can claw at when I'm nervous or excited and thanks to that awful habit and terribly oily Asian skin, I've got marks on my face from it.

Now that 37 is almost coming to a close and I head deep into "upper 30's" territory, I've started really investing in my skin, most of all the skin on my face. I've been more conscious of what I slather on it, I spend a little bit more on makeup brands that aren't full of awful chemicals, and I've started seeing an awesome dermatologist.

Last week I went in for my first of two Fractora treatments. It's not a chemical peel but it's another resurfacing treatment that's been proven to have better, long-term results and doesn't require more than three or four treatments if your skin's really bad. Since my scarring is minimal I'll only need two which is a relief because holy shit it hurt like a MF. And I have a high threshold for pain too.

Anyway, I know this is a huge difference from what I normally post but I couldn't find many articles or recaps out there for my own reference so hopefully my experience will help other people who are considering doing this.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not speaking on behalf of my dermatologist or Fractora or medical professionals. Everything I have on this blog is from MY perspective and my own personal experience. So the results of my treatment will be different from yours or your friend's.

Here we go!

Day 1

After checking in at the dermatologist and getting the "before" pictures taken, I had numbing cream glopped all over my face and waited for about an hour for it to set in. By the time I washed it off, I couldn't feel my lips.

One of the technicians rubbed pure alcohol all over my face (it's REALLY hard to inhale, btw and I kept coughing) then I had some cool air blown at me. That cool air is constantly blowing through the procedure to keep your skin cool.

Go time

First off, I've clearly forgotten how to do my yoga breathing - where you deeply inhale and exhale through your nose into your belly instead of your chest. For my next session I am going to focus entirely on that instead of the intense pain on my face. Anyway..

So Fractora is a treatment where a grid of tiny pins prick a few millimeters below your skin's surface and introduces heat into those layers. I'm dumbing it down like crazy for you, if you want a more detailed explanation go here.

"Prick" puts it mildly. It felt like my face was getting stapled and the areas that hurt the most were (in order of "I started to cry" to "oh that wasn't so bad):

  • Upper lip
  • Nose bridge
  • The crease between your cheeks and nose
  • Jaw/jaw bone area
  • the further into the center of your face
  • Forehead
  • Eyelids (realy the outer corner under your eyebrow)
  • Fleshy part of the nose
  • Cheeks (but I have chubby cheeks which are, finally, coming in handy)

My doctor did two passes over all those areas focusing on the problem areas more. The second time was just torture and I was shaking so badly because I guess I was super tense and trying my best not to start sobbing. The numbing cream didn't completely numb my face, but I don't even want to think about how bad it'd feel without it!

By the way I want to thank the nurses/technicians for being SO encouraging and so sweet. Everyone was in the room, I guess to observe but it was nice having all that support in there. Next time I'm asking for the stress ball and blanket sooner than later.

During the procedure I could also smell what I guess is burning skin. Because of the heat that's passing through the needles but thanks to that cold air it didn't feel hot till after the air was turned off and we were done.

The whole thing didn't take more than maybe 20 minutes? 30 tops. I was SUPER red and but not quite puffy yet and I looked like I'd sat in a tanning bed for much too long. Other than that, nothing hurt, my face just felt hot. 

Back home

I was not allowed to leave the house for 48 hours. With literal holes in my face, and this being a season of hacking and coughing and colds, I would be prone to infections. That aside, I looked frightful and there was no way I wanted anybody to see me so it was not a problem to stay home.

My face actually felt fine, I did have to take Tylenol just so the pain didn't bother me much but I didn't need the ice pack they gave me. The cold I'd been fighting off did decide to just kick my butt though so trying to blow my nose without rubbing at the skin was .. interesting.

Things did get a little crusty, especially around my chin and the surface of my skin felt a little rough in places but not terribly so. I stared noticing a couple of teeny whiteheads pop up but I didn't think much of it and they seemed to go away by the end of the day.

That night, I had to prop myself up on pillows and keep my head elevated as I slept so reduce swelling but when I woke up the next day, I was a little less red and not as puffy.

Still with me? Great.

Day 2

Woke up, washed my face with a mild facewash like I was instructed. Put on the first of 4 BioCream applications for the day, started on work.

My face started to itch but I figured it was part of the treatment so I just ignored it and went about my day. Things were also looking a lot redder today and I could see the grid of pin marks scabbing over on my forehead and round my face.

By the evening the scabs were starting to completely show up and they looked like teeny, very orderly blackheads. There was still a lot of redness and some itching around my cheekbones and brow and a few more whiteheads had popped up but again, didn't think anything of it.

Day 3

So according to everything I've managed to look up and according to the instructions, the redness should have mostly subsided by now. Except, each time I applied the BioCream to my face, my skin would get really angry looking and more of these little whiteheads (some were getting bigger now) started popping up.

Made a call in to the emergency number and my dermatologist recommended I go get some Cerave face wash - it's super mild, apparently, and gentle enough to use on a newborn therefore gentle enough to use on my currently extremely sensitive skin.

The face wash seemed to help, and things would calm down after a couple of hours (and a Benadryl) but as soon as I applied the cream again, there they were more bumps. Was told to wait a day and see if it subsides.

Day 4

I just got back from a very quick dash into Walgreens to pick up Cerave moisturizer. When I woke up this morning, things had calmed down considerably though my skin had gotten dry overnight and though it wasn't read, it was flakey. After washing my face I applied the BioCream and wouldn't you know it - RED RED RED again. Made another call to the emergency number and was told to skip the BioCream for now and get some milder moisturizer.

I quickly covered my face up with some powder foundation (boy did that make things itch) and tried my best to just play it off like "hey yeah my face does look like that, what of it?" and picked up what I needed. Came home, took a shower, washed my face off again and applied the new stuff.

The itching was a little less intense, there was still some redness (I'm now beginning to think that maybe that's just how it's going to be for now each time I apply moisturizer) but it isn't as angry looking. The moisturizer isn't as intense or rich as BioCream but it'll do for now. I just want to be able to leave the house to go do my job tomorrow!!! I'm supposed to be able to put on makeup after 72 hours (so technically, I can today) but I don't know if it'll be enough to cover up the scabbing and not scare people I see.

Aside from all this, I swear I am already noticing a difference. My scars seem to be shrinking bit by bit though all the materials I've read about Fractora indicate that results will develop over time and could take up to four weeks to REALLY show. So maybe it's psychological, maybe it's actually happening but I am so excited to see how this improves the texture of my skin.

I go back for another treatment in the new year. In the meantime I'm going to keep practicing calming breaths so I'm not as tense that go-round.

 

Fried Rice recipe using leftover Thanksgiving/Christmas ham

Added on by Tabitha.

Fried rice was one of the first things they taught us how to cook in Home Economics back in secondary school. It was part of the "one-dish meal" section of the curriculum along with fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Fried rice is, essentially, a meal made of leftovers. Vegetables and meats are cut up and combined with the rice from yesterday. Growing up, my grandmother always had some medley of frozen vegetables (the kind with peas, carrots, corn) in the freezer for occasions like this and since living on my own, I've done the same because you never know when those frozen vegetables will come in handy.

Anyway, this is a super easy recipe, and bear in mind I eyeball things when I cook fried rice. As long as you're making enough for everybody you're feeding, you're good. I also like using leftover holiday ham because it's got so much flavor to it already that you won't need to add much salt to your fried rice.

A couple of things to note:

Don't use soy sauce. The trick to good fried rice like you'd get at a real Chinese restaurant is to not use soy sauce. I do use it in the recipe but I beat it into the eggs, I don't use any on the rice itself. Salt (sometimes we chat and use a teensy bit of MSG) and white pepper is enough because you don't want your fried rice soggy/mushy or brown. When you're done cooking it, it should have taken on some of the egg's yellow but it's mostly a golden but still white hew.

It's best to use leftover rice that's been in the fridge. Freshly cooked rice could work, just use a little less water than you normally would to make it but it'll more than likely stick together and get mushy.

What I use

  • Leftover ham cut into 1" cubes about a cup and a half.
  • Leftover rice about 3 cups cooked.
  • Half a small onion cut into 1/2" dices.
  • 2 cups of the frozen vegetable medley or a mixture of green peas, corn and carrots or whatever crunchy veggie you want to use, really.
  • Garlic (use as much as you want but at least one clove).
  • Four eggs (I separated two of them and used just the whites).
  • Three tablespoons of peanut oil or any oil that won't burn in high heat.
  • Kosher salt to taste.
  • White pepper to taste.
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce for the eggs.

Steps

  1. Whip up the soy sauce and eggs like you're mixing it for an omelet, set aside. I also like to cook the eggs separately in another pan so get that pan out and set it on the stove with about a tablespoon or so of oil.
  2. Fry up the ham first to crisp them a little and render out the oil. Remove from pan into a bowl, set aside.
  3. Add oil to the pan that has the ham oil and let it heat up a bit. Medium - high heat.
  4. Add garlic, stir around till nice and fragrant then add onion, veggies. Toss and cook for about a minute.
  5. Add rice.
  6. Heat up the oil in the other pan for the eggs the entire time paying attention to your rice and never letting it sit for too long.
  7. Add salt/pepper to rice and always remember to taste.
  8. Add the ham back into the rice. Stir, stir, stir.
  9. Fry up the eggs. Don't forget to keep stirring the rice.
  10. When the eggs start to cook but are still sort of wet, add it to the rice. Fry and mix everything up evenly. Imagine you're trying to coat every single granule of rice with the flavors of the veggies, ham and eggs - let all your ingredients mingle and get cozy.
  11. Taste, add salt/pepper (and any other spices like chili powder if you want it spicy) and once everything looks like it's been evenly cooked remove from heat and serve up.
  12. Garnish with cilantro/coriander, green onions or some crispy onions or shallots.

ENJOY!

AUTHENTIC FRIED RICE RECIPE