Today, I ask you: Eat, Pray, Love? [Submit your experience/Ask Your Questions!] :)

“Nostalgia makes us a bit more human” – In a recent NYT blog, John Tierney discusses how nostalgia can actually be a good thing. Memories of my six months abroad (2011) studying, living, conducting research, traveling, meeting people, pretending I was Indian (in both India and China… haha fooled that Chinese cab driver! 😛 ) in Udaipur (India), Beijing (China), Anhui (birthplace), & Yunnan (my home foreversssss) constantly come back to me.

via: fyeahmindyproject.tumblr.com

This reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Okay okay, I’ll be honest. I stopped reading that book after I finished India. And I stopped watching the movie after she left Italy. So … I guess I don’t know what happened in INDONESIA! Haha. But then … as relationships come and go… somehow… accidentally, I was living out my own version of Eat, Pray, Love.

Eat. Okay that needs no explanation. This is 100% always happening.
Pray. The temples in India, my village temple in Yunnan, the clouds in Yunnan, the mountains in Yunnan, the sunset in Udaipur, the forts in Udaipur, the desert, the 115 degree Fahrenheit days in Udaipur, the stares, the bike accident after actually drunken noodles, etc etc… they all made me wonder about my own particular views and beliefs again. I’m still not sure… just as lost as Margaret was in Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret
Love. Welp. Welp. Welp. I did not find love in the form of a Brazilian businessman, if you’re wondering about that… but…
I think about this trip so much… because it was unplanned, completely by accident. But it meant so much to me. I turned into an infant, crawling around, eating with my fingers (literally.. what a disaster and a complete mess that was when it came to rice.. but I mastered the art of the eat-yo-roti-with-just-yo-right-hand technique. Whoot!) … meeting all sorts of lovely folks, learning new languages, learning more of Jarkie.
So my question to YOU, lovely readers… have you ever had an Eat, Pray, Love sort of experience? Did you plan it ? Or did you just open the door and there it was by accident? Or do you have a question about my experience? Feel free to share below in the comments or in the comment box below (these will be privately sent to us – let us know if you mind us sharing your experience & with or without your name) or you can email us at todaycommai@gmail.com. I’ll try to do a follow up postttttt 🙂

[EDIT]: Our unspoken little blog rule: one post per day. But it’s a new day! 47 minutes (as I’m typing this) into the new day!

Some photos below – alright, good night, dear readers!

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Today, I relax with a mini-facial…

My massage bed last night.

My massage bed last night.

I’ve been feeling pretty stressed for a host of reasons lately. So I decided to get a massage from a recently-opened spa near my apartment (see photo to right). When I came home, I felt like something was missing. I love love love facials. I did a quick google search (originally I wanted to figure out the health benefits and spas and massages and facials) and got sucked into a WebMD (haha!) vortex. Some interesting articles to note:

Speaking of facials, my host mom in Udaipur (India) used to help me make facial and henna (for my hair) appointments at least once a week (if only it were cheap here). A very nice woman would come to the house and give me the facial. Usually I opted for the papaya facial because OH THE WONDERS OF PAPAYA! She used real chunks of papaya and yogurt (and I’m not sure what else she used). It really makes your face SHINE, GLOW! Radiance at its finest! When I’m lazy, I’ll use one of these easy-to-use facial sheet masks.  But when I’m not feeling lazy, I’ll give myself a mini facial about once a week, which is what I did last night.

Todaycommai Jarkie’s Mini-Facial (non-DIY version)
**DIY makeover/spa series will come soon 🙂 

The products used last night :)

The products used last night 🙂 (please excuse my finger in the top left corner 😛 )

My mini-spa borrows mostly from the facial I received while in Udaipur… but I’ve added a little thing here and there. The photos I’m showing are just examples of items. I still haven’t found the products that I love the most yet. Prices listed are for full-size products.

  1. Remove make-up! A while back ago, TATCHA was offering free samples on their website (all you had to pay was the shipping fee). I have fallen in love with their Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil($48.00). I massage ~2 droplets of the oil over my eyes. You can clean off with a tissue or splash your face with some water and the make-up is REMOVED! Wheeee. And the oil makes my face feel so soft and fresh!
  2. Cleanse your face! Use a make-up removal towelette or a and a gentle foaming/gel cleanser (we’ll be doing some scrubbing later!).

    Strawberry Mask :)

    Strawberry Face Scrub.. see the actual seeds? (black dots!) 🙂

  3. Scrub before you mask! Pick a scrub. This one needs some playing with as different skin types will need different sorts of scrubs. I needed to use up my Mario Badescu samples… so I used the Strawberry Face Scrub ($15.00). I’ve recreated the scrubbing pattern that I received in Udaipur:
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    Please excuse my terrible arrows.
           forehead area: use you thumbs to scrub in an up-down (think zigzag) motion.
           eye area: Make little circles around your eyes with your index and middle fingers.
           nose area: make up and down vertical motions with the tips of your fingers.
           cheeks area: use the tips of your fingers to create circular motions.
    So I go from forehead –> eyes –> nose –> cheeks –> above lips and chin and [repeat]. I do this for however long I should be scrubbing (read the instructions on your products). When you start to feel the scrub get a little dry, add some droplets of water to the tips of your fingers. Happy Scrubbing!
  4. Facial Mask – Now for the relaxing part. My most favorite mask that I’ve found through NewBeauty Test Tube is the June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque ($62.00). I’m sorry I forgot to take pictures! But it has a lotion consistency that you smooth onto your face. The light papaya scent feels so heavenly! I LOVE IT! But last night… I opted to use up my Mario Badescu Cucumber Tonic Mask ($18.00) sample. Nice light cucumber-esque scent, left my skin feel soft. When you apply it on, it feels like pancake batter. After waiting 10-15 minutes, it completely dries up and you can wash off with warm water.
  5.  Toner – my current favorite toner is pictured above: Origins A Perfect World Age-defense Treatment Lotion with White Tea ($22.00).
  6. Serum (optional) – I was too lazy to do this last night… but when I do use it, I make sure to wait 1-2 minutes before applying moisturizer! 🙂
  7. Moisturizer – my current night cream has been Origins A Perfect World Antioxidant moisturizer with White Tea ($39.50). Creamy & quick-to-absorb! I love the light hint of white tea!

And finally with a cup of tea, I was able to fall asleep 🙂 Wheeeeee. Okay.. have a lovely day!

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Today, I bring you my ZARA finds and happy panda umbrella (strange instructions!)…

Sales are the best. They are my best friend. Do I mind that I’m a bit “behind” with the seasons? Nope. Not really. Today’s topic: ZARA. I first found out about ZARA (along with MANGO and UNIQLO) while I was studying/living in Udaipur & Beijing. Haha. In fact, my first Zara item was purchased in Udaipur… from a man who brought western brand  clothing and accessories from Mumbai (???) to Udaipur and sold it at a ridiculously cheap price in a shop somewhere I can’t remember. One of my the many ways Western culture crept into India’s way of life… at least for some.

I had to get my car fixed this past weekend. That process took about 5-6 hours. “Unluckily” ( 😛 ) for me, there was a mall across the street. What a bummer, guess I just had to spend that much time in the mall 😛 My eyes were drawn to ZARA’s Spring-Summer Sale. Of course. Regarding some of their clothing… I just have the following thoughts: What? What? Why? How? Why? But there are many items that I just love and so I stocked up on some nice finds. Take a look… we’ll call this business chic 🙂 It’s what I’m wearing to work. Whoot whoot! HAHA… for you young (physically and/or young at heart) folks out there 🙂

The Finds

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I was very excited when I spotted this EVERYDAY SHOPPER handbag in the sale section! It’s not leather (sad… but tis okay… I’m too clumsy for fancy leather bags right now)… Pros: It’s pretty spacious and can fit an iPad (as long as you have a cover). It’s very simple but sophisticated. I was looking for something that I could hold, but also swing on my shoulder if I got tired of holding it so this was the perfect find! Disadvantage? Besides the zipper that’s on the front (see photo above), there are no other zippers! Not even the little pouch on the inside. I don’t really mind, because at work, I don’t need to worry about having a bag that zips… but as long as you’re not in a crowded place where you have to worry about people reaching into your bag, this is good! 🙂

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ZARA flats from Udaipur … I honestly have no clue what they’re called but I like them 🙂 The polka dotted blouse was part of the Zara sale section. They nice to wear over leggings if you’re looking for a casual look around the house. At work, I tuck it in under a nice pencil-ish skirt or business-esque pants.

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I also got this comfy sweater to wear at home: Basic Knit Sweater yipee!

Extra find – my roomie just got back from San Fran and look what she got me! She knows my fascination for pandas… and I’m always losing umbrellas so this was perfect! Please do not ask me why there is a serving suggestion on my umbrella. Why do I need to add “hot watter” and why must I bring it to a boil and simmer? What am I consuming??!! 🙂

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The Look

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Items – A day in the life of Jarkie’s work fashion lololol

1. Handbag: Everyday Shopper (Black), $29.99   2. Polka dotted printed blouse (Red/Coral), $35.99    3. EXPRESS skirt    4. Zara Trafaluc flats   5. Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy(1.7 oz), $70.00   6. Juicy Couture Starter Charm Link Bracelet (gold tone), $48.00 

At a first glance, those items might look pricey… but ain’t nobody got that kinda money (at least not us young ones just outta college trying to save up for more school!)… look for outlets in your area! Since I’m a AAA (triple A) member, I was able to get a VIP coupon book at the particular outlet I went to. Helped me save a tone of some of the Juicy items 🙂

What are your favorite finds? Are there any sales going on that you’re crazy about? Please do share!

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Today, I bring you the [almost] perfect cup of chai!

The -arkies know my love for India, namely, the city of Udaipur. Since I left Udaipur in July 2011, I’ve been missing the times where I could expect to consume >6 cups of chai per day. The chai found in cafe’s that I went to… well that was a twist that did not give me the flavors I needed. And the “masala chai” I’ve ordered at certain restaurants in Bethesda did not bring me the taste I’ve been missing… something so simple to make… why did it not occur to me? Make it yoself!

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So that’s what I’ve been doing.

Materials: Stove, Pot, Strainer, Cup

Ingredients: Water, Milk (Whole Milk), Black Tea (bags or looseleaf), Cinnamon stick/ground cinnamon works too, Ginger slices/ground ginger works too, Sugar, Cardamom pods

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**If you’re not lazy like me, grind the cinnamon, ginger slices and cardamom. If you’re lazy like me just throw it in whole 😛 hahaha

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Everyone has different ways of making chai, kind of play around with it. Some say half milk, half water… others say 2/3 water, 1/3 milk. Play around.

  1. I bring everything, except the sugar and milk, to a boil first.
  2. Then I add the sugar (I add about 3 heaping spoonfuls of sugar for every 2cups water/1 cup milk that I use… I’m using about 3-4 teabags (I guess that’s about 3-4 spoonfuls of loose tealeaves).
  3. Add the milk
  4. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and just kind of let everything steep.
  5. Pour the chai through a strainer into your cup. Voila! Enjoy!

Anyways, a lot of this is up to how you want it to taste, just kind of play around with it. Is there anything that you do differently… do you have a good recipe?

As for me, this smell and taste of this drink brings back so many lovely memories. The only thing that’s missing is a cow … for me to milk… because that milk that I could get directly would enhance the taste of this chai that much more. 😛

I’ve been a bit busy lately, but more of Jarkies IndoChinese recipes to come! 🙂

❤ Jarkie

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Today, I’m on a journey to the past…

Pani Puri!

My eyes glistened as I saw the dish listed under the appetizers at Tandoori Nights in Bethesda Row.  My roomie and I … well, let’s just say our original plan was to study… which then led to buying a groupon… which then let to us looking at the menu. This isn’t really a review of the restaurant (I can yelp that 😛 )… this is more just an ode to my lovely pani puris!

Pani is the hindi word for water. And puri’s are a deep-fried sort of bread. In this case, they’re tiny (perfect snack size!), round and punched through the top.  Tandoori Night had chickpeas, potatoes and tamarind chutney in them.  The spiced water was tasty … but a little too thick. I prefer a lighter consistency. However, it brought back such good memories…. My only complaint is … WHY NOT FEED ME 10 of THESE? Or 20?! I only got 3 😦 Sad 😦

Nomnomnom!

Nomnomnom!

When I was in Udaipur, I never got a chance to take a picture of it… because … ain’t nobody got time for dat!

You best be taking the puri from the street vendor and stuffing them in your mouth as quickly as you can. So so so good! One of my favorite foods! And it’s late, so I should sleep. I’ll leave you with a picture that brings traditional food a little Western flair. The second time I had gone back to Udaipur (end of May to beginning of July 2011), I had caught the grand opening of Udaipuri, a vegetarian kitchen that serves Indian and International cuisine. I remember eating falafels and Thai curry!  Since this was a classier place, I had to control myself… And so I managed a picture before I took a shot (non-alcoholic). hehe. But anyways, enjoy the picture! I can almost taste the spicy water in my mouth. Good night!

Pani Puri Shots (Udaipuri, Udaipur, India)

Pani Puri Shots (Udaipuri, Udaipur, India)

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Today, I share with you this weekend’s nomnomnom’s!

This week’s theme: FOOD! (hahaha, what a surprise :P) I spent the weekend relaxing, occasionally working a bit, but mostly relaxing. Relaxing = cooking. Cute story:  I was shopping at the local grocery store and was in the “mexican food”/”beans”/”rice” aisle, when this old man in his little straw hat came up to me to ask me if canned beans could be consumed without requiring a stove. His explanation was that he lives in an independent living community. We said our goodbyes. The next day, I started my first day volunteering at the Independent and Assisted Living home across from my building. There was a cute little concert happening and guess who was sitting in front of me? The same man! What a small world.

Arroz con gandules 

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Rice with pidgeon peas. I first tasted this when le significant other’s mom first made this. I’ve fallen in love with this rice ever since. I’m sure there are different ways to make this but I noticed that Goya has a recipe here. My recipe is similar except I leave out the green peppers (no need to be healthy :P) and cilantro. Don’t get me wrong, I love cilantro, but I like for this recipe to be simple.

Steak and Onions (to go with the rice)

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This is a very simple entree to make… but it tastes so good! You’re going to be relying on the flavors of the onions and sazon. The main ingredients:

Heat a pan. Add oil, onions, and minced garlic. Pour the sazon packets onto the steak in a separate mixing bowl and cover the steak evenly. Add to the pan. Turn the heat down to low/medium and let it simmer for about 35-45 minutes. It’s perfect. You don’t even need to add water. The onions + olive oil will create the tasty sauce which is good with the steak and the rice.

A lovely meal! Nomnomnom

A lovely meal! Nomnomnom

Eggs and Chorizo

A photo pour toi. If we were to use Charkie’s coffee mug (see her post here)… I’m sure this would match the milky coffee. For the scrambled eggs, to make delicious scrambled eggs…

Beat the eggs into a bowl. For every egg you have, add a pinch (or a shake) of one of the Goya Adobo products (preferably the one with pepper). Spray your pan with a bit of oil and turn on stove to low/medium heat. Add in your egg mixture to cover the entire pan… as if you’re making crepes. As you see the eggs start cooking on the bottom layer… start mixing the mixture with a spatula, slowly. As the egg starts to cook more, add in a slice (or more to your heart’s desire) of American cheese (KRAFT singles are the best). And voila! The tastiest scrambled eggs!

A simple but hearty breakfast. Only thing missing ? Grits with tons of butter.

A simple but hearty breakfast. Only thing missing ? Grits with tons of butter.

Poha 

This is a breakfast dish that I LOVED while in Udaipur, India. Poha is a flattened rice that is DELICIOUS when made the right way 🙂

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A good friend of mine visited DC this weekend and brought with her a bag of poha. I eagerly went to the store to purchase the ingredients necessary to recreate my lovely dish. Unluckily for me, I did not find any curry leaves 😦 Sad. But it was still delicious. I’ll have the find the right ingredients next time! This is what it came to this time!

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  • Poha
  • Oil
  • Mustard Seeds (black)
  • Ground Turmeric
  • Curry Leaves
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Chopped onions
  • Sugar, Salt, Pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime
  • 1-2 green chili (chopped)

Soak the poha in water for about 10 minutes. Drain. Heat a pan with oil, mustard seeds, ground turmeric, chopped onions, chopped green chili and curry leaves. I also added cumin seeds. Add the poha into this mixture. Add sugar, salt , and pepper. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with some raw onions and lime! 🙂

Wish I were on vacation now… 

Some photos from my lovely friend from Thailand… makes me jealous….

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Today, I am taking a cappuccino break…

Cappuccino has become my chai. I remember when I went back to Udaipur for the second time and stayed with the S. family, instead of taking my morning cup of chai in the little 2-3 oz sizes they had, I would insist on drinking from the ridiculous glass mug. How interesting these little memories always come back. What was so special about India (or was it Udaipur? )? Or was it just being in a foreign place where I was forced to go back into a baby me where I was forced to learn a new language by hearing and mimicking. Where I pick up foreign food I’d never seen before with my fingers and with the push of a thumb sent the spices into my mouth. Whatever it is I wonder if it means something. Markie‘s post below allowed me to do some self-reflection myself. Just thinking about my future and what it’ll bring. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Speaking of India, I met up with a friend who stayed with the same host family that I stayed with (the S. family I mentioned above). Along with her boyfriend, we chatted over gingerbread lattes and then went to watch Les Mis. What a solid performance by a solid cast!! A very beautiful film to watch indeed. And tears came and passed many times. So now I sip on the cappuccino and have my favorite Ferrero Rochers …. And just think some while serenading myself with I dreamed a dream
Snow on day after Christmas
Madmen birthday bash tonight.
And more thinking….

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