Surrender

  • Surrender [1. a:  to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand b:  to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another. 2.  a : to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner b :  to give (oneself) over to something (such as an influence)] 

Here’s the thing about surrender. It’s conscious and willing.

I want to start this post by saying I never thought I’d share any part of my personal life-story, in a blog post, on the internet. Writing it even now feels like I’ve betrayed and exposed my family, my church, my old friends and everyone I hold dear. Being vulnerable about myself is somehow exposing them and it feels strange. Most of them will never read it, or take the time to see how I’m doing at school but that is okay. So for the maybe 30 people who will read this 🙂 thank you. To be heard is a privilege.

I recently talked to a friend who I never expected read my post, and it encouraged her and gave me the encouragement to keep writing and telling my story. So here we go, this is my story and I’m sticking to it. (Even if only a small part of the beginning)

When I was three years old I walked into my parents room on the second floor of our Tudor style house. My parents room is now (Many years later) my little sister’s room, after it was renovated. I walked into the attached sun porch on the second floor with terrible airflow. This room would frost in the winter and cause candles to melt during the summer due to the two walls of floor to ceiling windows. This room was always warm to me though. Even in the winter when my nose would run, I would crawl under the covers in the king size bed (which was ginormous to a 3-yr old) next to my parents and be safe, warm, and happy. I was safe in that room. That time, many years ago, was different.

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My memories of that morning look like photos and vine clips. Snippets of my past so vital to the person I have become, they are cemented in my mind. After all of these years my memory of them has not changed.  I was three, a long time ago, but I do still remember them so clearly.

I remember feeling alone. I didn’t know where my family was in our house (which felt so much bigger at the time) looking for my big brothers who were normally causing a ruckus and the music in our house was quiet. My house is never quiet. I remember the feeling of loneliness, the darkness of the hallway and the warm light walking into the sunny-safe room that day.

I felt something dark inside of me, it felt like wires and emptiness. My parents and my brothers were on my parents king size bed. They had been crying. Why was my family crying? My dad was praying with my second oldest brother, I knew what prayer was. We did it every night. My oldest brother, his eyes were red, he had been crying. My mom. My sweet mom looked at me, smiling, with tears in her eyes. The wires in my heart began to hurt, and burn.

I should have asked why everyone was crying. That would have been the right thing to do. However, I (like any 3-yr old) selfishly asked my mom about myself and what I was feeling.

“Mommy, I feel empty inside, and it hurts”

My mom then asked me to describe what I was feeling, sharp, pain, empty, dark. I didn’t understand. My mom asked me if I wanted Jesus to come and live in the space. (Jesus that is related to praying, Daddy says Jesus, Mommy sings about Jesus) (Jesus was safe).

I asked Jesus to come live in my heart. I asked Him to take away all my sin. Even at three I didn’t know how “bad” my sin could actually be? Yelling, stealing a cookie from my siblings? I don’t know. All I knew was that I didn’t want my sin anymore. Even though it was light “3-year old” sin, I didn’t want it.

“I wasn’t empty anymore. I felt this warm light come live inside of me. It overcame the dark wires. It felt like the sunlight I had walked into, but it was living inside of me and it wanted to come out. I would never be alone again “

Now, what does my salvation story have to do with 21 Project in Kona Hawaii in 2017?

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Everything. 

19 years later I would not have asked people for money, to send me to Hawaii, to learn from people I didn’t know, if I hadn’t heard from God. I would not have heard from God if I had not surrendered then and there at three.

While I was in Kona, Andy Byrd gave a teaching on the beauty of an Uncommon Surrender. The point that stung me the most was:

“The power of that yes carries the weight of every no to everything else”

Andy gave the example of marriage, the power in that yes, to spend your life with one person, carries the weight of saying no to everyone else forever. It occurred to me then, that the death (or hard part) in sacrifice was never an issue for me. Saying yes wasn’t the problem, saying no was. Surrender is not a sacrifice. It is giving up the right to say yes to anything other than God in order to gain everything.

In surrender you give up loneliness and gain the most amazing companion. I gave up my right to complain, and got the most amazing joy I have ever experienced.

The reason my salvation story found its fit in this post, is that when I asked Jesus to come into my life at the age of three, I knew what I was getting into. I knew my life was not my own. I knew I would never be the same. I knew that the Holy Spirit was living inside and around me and that I could talk to Him whenever I wanted. Would He have revealed Himself to me later in life? Maybe. Personally, I shudder at the thought of my surrender being delayed even by one day.  Where would I be? Who would I have become?

In Kona I didn’t discover new areas to surrender, I discovered that I had to surrender my right to “be right” or think I have everything figured out.  Part of being convicted to dream bigger is recognizing that I was dreaming too small, and therefore not walking out the fullness of what He has for me.  My plans I thought God had given me for my life after school, however righteous I thought they would be, had to be put back in His hands after I had closed my fingers around them.

Surrender right now looks like not being in control and trusting Him for everything in every area: finance, time, health, creativity, education, spirituality, appearance, influence, diet, relationships, and so much more. Surrender is willingly letting go of control. 

So now what? Now I lay it down. 

“Whatever it takes, whatever it costs”

I knew this song before I went to Kona. At some point in the second week I heard Lindy lead this song in person. I went back to my room and bought the album. This song (along with many others) has been one of my anthems coming back to school and this concept of “real life”. (not life on an island in the South Pacific, being poured into for 8+hours a day). School has been crazy, (it is only day four) and I will go into more of that in the next post. For now I wanted to challenge you, the reader, to surrender.

Lay down your right to criticize. Lay down your time and opinion. Sacrifice every dark area in your life and give it to Him. The crazy thing is you will only get light, joy, and love in return.

-Bee

 

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Confidence

As the driftwood whittles down, you see the beauty that it had. Carried through the open ocean ’til it finally reached the sand. Where I came upon its sadness, saw the glory it contained. And you let me cut you slowly until only you remained

 

  • Confidence  [a :  a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances b :  faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way]

This story is picking up 2 days after that last post on preparation…I didn’t feel prepared or confident that first day. (or that week for that matter)

20746731_1469393149810588_702919567_oI arrived in Kona and spent the first two days wandering by myself. Never in my life had I faced such a feeling of loneliness, and being extroverted I had a true realization of how much I tend to draw my assurance from other people. Loneliness, but why? It was just two days? I didn’t realize exactly how far away from my “normal life” I was. My dad couldn’t come get me, a call to mom was six hours off schedule, and my friends were sleeping or working when I needed encouragement. This is what loneliness is; it is not the absence of people, but the disappearing of being known. I was on an island, in the middle of the pacific, alone. I knew no one and no one knew me.

While I wandered and pondered loneliness, I found some really amazing places to eat and was overall testing my boundaries. How far did I feel safe walking alone, how late did I feel safe staying out? How far was University of the Nations from Kona Seaside hotel? I walked to Walmart and bought sheets, towels and a blanket that I would need for my stay at YWAM. That walk,which was just under a mile one-way, scared me. I learned about Hawaii’s no plastic bag policy and bought my reusable bag. In all honesty I mostly stayed in my hotel room (and I felt guilty doing it because so many wonderful people supported me to come to freaking Hawaii)!

It might shock you to know that, even though I am Puerto Rican,  I am not a beach person. I love the sand, and the sun and the water, but if I swim in the ocean for too long I get seasick and that is no fun for anyone. I also felt wrong swimming without a friend. I stayed in a hotel for two days and didn’t use the pool. Is something truly wrong with me? I couldn’t go adventuring,  I didn’t really want to do anything amazing if I was doing it alone. I guess that is just the kind of person I am.  I mostly drank coffee and wandered around tide pools, amazed at the fish, where I was and looking forward to when everyone would arrive. I could feel anticipation in the atmosphere. Big Island knew a company of fiery young people was about to land and that something was about to happen.

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I will try to write a separate post about food and what I ate, and how it has impacted me post-21P, but these next few posts I want to be focused on what I learned/ what I did. (Because so many people have been asking, I feel so loved!)

My second day I felt brave (or bored) enough to walk to the campus by myself. I went exploring and it felt like orientation. When I arrived by Lyft the next day I knew where to go. I was overwhelmed by the love and acceptance of so many beautiful people, but I wished I had a friend with me. I felt like I had to prove myself to anyone I met. There was a false feeling of needing to justify why I was there. I wished I had someone I could lean on or run to.

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This all led to a version of myself I didn’t know was inside of me. A girl that processed internally, trying to fight the lies without anyone next to me that I knew well enough to ask for help.

Throughout the entire process of checking into my room and figuring out the meal schedule, meeting room mates, meeting people in general, anytime or memory I had of ever feeling special or strong left me. Don’t get me wrong, on any given day I will be the loudest, happiest, most confidant person in the room, but I had never felt smaller.

I texted two of my best friends back home in a panic.

“I have never been surrounded by so many strong, beautiful people, and I feel so out of place. Why did I do this? What am I doing here?”

They encouraged me, and reaffirmed why I was there. I was there to encounter Jesus. Everything else was just gravy.

I grew up being a leader. I grew up being that friend that was always put together, the party planner, the plan-maker, and those sorts of things. Now I was alone, on an island feeling unworthy to be the friend of anyone around me.

Confidence-shattered, and thank God it was.

  • Confidence [a :  a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances b :  faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way]

Reads differently now, doesn’t it? There is nothing in confidence that makes us rely on God. Therefore, it had to be broken. The few days that followed I felt weak, uncomfortable, vulnerable and raw. 

I called my mom (I thank God for my mom 🙂 )

Remember when you would go on a youth retreat and it would water everything in your garden, the good and the bad? well that is what is happening. Everything is growing inside of you at an alarming rate.  And any dark thing, if even a residue, is being brought to the surface and dealt with, because you are in a place of such light.

I could see it now. I don’t think there was some large thing inside of me that needed uprooting, but we are human aren’t we? There will always be something that needs refining. I think this season was teaching me not to rely on what I knew or had been through (well not in the way I would think). I was learning what of my past I could stand on, and what honestly didn’t matter anymore.  That first week was (and still is) a bit of a blur. Let me think about what I remember clearly.

I remember experiencing worship again.

Okay, when you have worship every morning with 400 people who think just like you and Lindy Cofer happens to be leading most of the time, life is really good. That 95% of the congregation is engaged and truly worshiping and people are diverse and expressing their worship in every way, was a real taste of heaven. It didn’t matter that I only knew two of the songs we were singing. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know who to sit with, or who to say hi to. We were all there to worship.

I have been a worship leader for over half of my life, I didn’t realize how much I was drawing on myself (confidant right?) maybe that’s why I kept losing my voice last year. By the second day I was on my knees weeping in the front of the court.

I was worshiping in the front (where everyone stands together like sardines) and God just began to speak to me. The next thing I knew I was sobbing, on my knees, feeling small, and yet so loved. I wasn’t alone. He called me there. He needed to get me alone, He wanted me all to Himself.

He had to put me outside of everything I knew, away from everyone who knew me, and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed in order to reset me.

I remember getting challenged again, and yet affirmed.

First day of track I remember being surrounded by people who had all of these amazing business ideas. I remember thinking, “I thought I would be learning about marketplace ministry, like I would get a job out of school and work ethically” or something like that. Not, “Oh I have this idea that will change the world and I need help pitching to investors”. I wasn’t here with an idea to change communication, or to impact cities one house at a time. I didn’t have the business plan for a coffee-shop-prayer room. I had nothing. (Why was I here? Can I go write songs now?)

Entrepreneur, disruptor, and maverick were synonymous after the first day. We were going to be blunt, honest, uplifting and encouraging.  Our track leader gave us $20 with instructions to grow the money 10% and return it to him after 2 weeks. (I didn’t sign up for this!? I am selling things? I have no car!) 

I called my dad (Also super thankful for my dad) he gave me some strategy that confirmed some still-small ideas I had in my head. I can do this I thought. I was built for this. There is a reason I am here. I am going to see this through.

The messages were amazing and that is the best way of summarizing them 🙂 You can listen to them all here. They challenged me and yet also solidified the messages I grew up hearing. I think the one that impacted me the most was this one  “The Culture of the Unoffended Heart” It helped me forgive the people that I would rationalize not forgiving by being a “stingy forgiver”.

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I actually learned how to make friends (I think)

In 48 hours I had made about 100 acquaintances and almost no friends. This would change in the days to come. I had never been in a place where I couldn’t lean on my family’s name before. I couldn’t sneak into a social circle by being the younger sister of my older brothers, or the daughter of my parents. That was a truly strange feeling. I had no affiliations, it was just me.

I did make friends, and I am hopeful that they will be friends I keep my whole life, but time will tell that one.  I met some truly amazing and inspiring people and even meeting them was a blessing.

I began to be seen again. 

What even is being seen? I don’t think it matters being seen, but who sees you. God began to show me my DNA the way He saw it. Not what my friends think, or mentors, or family (who are all great spheres of influence) but I really relate to the lyrics that began this post.

“As the driftwood whittles down20727438_1469393349810568_1439034208_o.jpg
You see the beauty that it had
Carried through the open ocean
‘Till it finally reached the sand
Where I came upon it’s sadness
Saw the glory it contained
And you let me cut you slowly until only you remained…Cause You’ve got, What I want. ”

I wanted Him. I didn’t want some version 3.0 of me anymore. I didn’t want to be known for being the most confidant person in the room. Being known for confidence is being known for self-reliance and image. I wanted to learn how to ask questions, shut my mouth, listen and only offer an opinion if asked. I needed to learn to be content keeping secrets with God, and no one else never needing to know anything about me, or my family, or what I study or my capacity.

Only He remains. That is an end game worth fighting (and being uncomfortable) for.

In the posts to come I will go more in depth of the two weeks that followed, but for now that was week one. Thanks for reading and following along in my story.

I hope to write soon!

Bee

Preparation

Please play this while you read 🙂 

  • Preparation: noun [The action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration. (b) Something done to get ready for an event or undertaking.]

Now, it is one thing to prepare for making a recipe, or an interview. Preparing for an event, school, a day at work and the like. I never knew what He would be preparing me for through this process. If you are reading this then you might not know that I am currently on a plane to San Francisco that will connect me (with almost no time in between) to Kona Hawaii. I will be on Big Island for 21 days. So how did this adventure come about? Well I will happily tell you (if I was Tamatoa from Disney’s Moana it would be in song form)

So let’s start this story back where it actually began, about a year ago during one of the hardest seasons of my life.

I was staying on campus for the summer leading up to my fourth year of college. I had to stay to take four additional classes so that I could stay on track with graduating next May. Here at school I know many talented, musicians who also double as anointed worship leaders. Throughout that summer three of my friends went to Bethel and another three did this thing called 21 Project. All of my friends came back from an experience different and saying I should go and do the same. At the time, nothing really sat well with me and, I still didn’t feel like I personally needed to go. However, there was at the same time a longing for training outside of my personal sphere of influence.

In September I was invited to attend TheDROP in Falcon North Carolina. The experience was three days of crazy mixed with a dash of spirit. The story of my experience at TheDROP is a long one, and if you would like to hear it then let’s grab a coffee. It was TheDROP that did it. The Circuit Riders had come to my school the previous spring and were also at TheDROP. I sat in a worship training session with Lindy Conant and her team and it was the first time since high school I felt challenged, encouraged and also enabled.

In October I started allowing myself to think about ministry training. The reason I hadn’t in the past is because I didn’t know what good it would do. Why raise money to fly somewhere for only a small amount of time? I couldn’t see the lasting impact a trip like that could have. (Also something I struggle with in regards to short term missions trips, Blimey Cow sums this thought up well in this video) 

Something was different about the friends that did Circuit Riders though. They were actually living out the things I had seen them go through, whereas I saw the Bethel crowd come back and only be more in love with Bethel. Not to say the “Bethel” experience has less of an impact, but something about 21 Project made my heart jump.  I then started to pursue an opportunity to go to Australia for worship training, and also thought about 21 Project following that also in worship training.

In late October, past fall break, I remember waking up getting ready for a typical weekday of work and classes. I had a dream the night before and it was running in my head while I prepared that morning.

 I saw myself, with a grey hoodie, green backpack and lots of little gold earrings. My hair was short, and I was at a gate at my airport about to board a plane by myself. I knew I wasn’t coming back the same.

I called my mom and told her the dream on my bus ride to school. A week later I cut 11 inches of hair off. For Christmas I got a green backpack and in January I added four new piercings to my ears (grand total of 14 woo).

21 Project(on the website) was going to be $600 and in California, when it was made known that it was going to be in Kona this year (after 7 years it was moved back to the YWAM HQ where the movement was born )and that tuition had jumped I immediately thought that was it, I wasn’t supposed to go. As I looked at the extra money that I would need to raise I heard a voice inside of me say

“You believed Me for six, why not a thousand? Don’t you know that if I am sending you then you will get there?”

I don’t remember exactly what the final straw was, but I started a YouCaring to fund-raise for 21 project.

Fast forward to March. I had been feeling like I was supposed to go Hawaii for 21 days, and as Synergy 150 was approaching (look it up, they are awesome) I didn’t know anything other than I was supposed to go. My campus ministry, roommates and family were all supporting me. April is when the physical provision began to pour in. What’s crazy is that when God wants to send you, He will provide and when He provides He does so abundantly. In late April I was helping lead worship for a woman’s retreat. That Sunday morning I felt like I was not supposed to cut my hair until I flew. I asked God for a window of time and He said any time between July 8th and my flight I was allowed to cut my hair.

I have never traveled on my own like this before.

(As I write on my second flight of the day while watching LaLa Land on my phone) I didn’t know how to pack, so I prayed. I asked God to give me strategy and He told me to get on Pinterest and He gave me a color palette. After this I knew how/what to pack/shop. One night mom and I prayed for the rest of my airfare money to come in, and then next day I was able to buy my ticket. A week later all of my tuition came in. I was going. I couldn’t believe

it. (Still watching LaLa Land) and it still hasn’t hit me what God has in store for me during this time.

Some neat things that just wound up working out. July 8th I cut my hair, no picture, just told Miss V (who is a very Godly woman) to pray and cut it. While 21 Project this year is only 18 days, it worked out with my flights that I will be on the island for 21 days exactly. Doing what? Well…

I applied and was accepted to the maverick track.

I thought about applying to the worship track, and the more I thought about it this is what came to mind. I have personally been involved with worship teams since I was 12, and now I am 21. I say that not to say I know everything there is to know about leading worship, but I am comfortable there. And If God was sending me so far out of my comfort zone, across the country, alone, then I should follow through 100%. So while I am here I will be learning practical tools for marketplace ministry including, ethics, leadership, creative ideas and being a light in the workplace.

So there it is. Preparation. Preparation and the story leading up to the biggest adventure I have ever embarked on in my life. I know the only way of getting through this is leaning into God as I physically step off the continent. I am not a drive from my family. I don’t know anyone where I am going. For such an extrovert this is the part that has me nervous. Not new things, but making friends. Living in a dorm for the first time in my life (with 5-10 other girls). Something interesting is the number of people asking me if I am here for vacation, and the answer is no.  I am here to get trained. I am here to bless others.  and yes, this might be my only time in Hawaii for the foreseeable future, I wasn’t sent here to do all the sightseeing and touristy stuff.  I came with my hands open to give, and to receive what the Lord has for me.  When I woke up yesterday to board a plane God gave me a that song at the beginning of this post.  It has become both His invitation, and my cry. Here, stepping off. God would you meet me, and may I never be the same.

Here I am. Am I prepared? We will have to wait and see.

Knowledge or Torture?

The crazy thing about being in school is that there are new people every day. Even the same people are new every day, when we wake up we have choices to make and things we do, the food we eat and air we breathe. Honestly, if I was the same student I was four years ago, I would probably still have a 4.0 GPA, I would know everything I am studying, and I would have better time management. But I would also have no fiends, no social life, I would not be involved in anything outside of school. Right now I find myself in a time and season that demands every part of my mind, my heart and emotions. I have never willingly placed myself in a place where I am pressed so hard, and I know from here it is only supposed to get worse.

What do you do when you fail 4 tests in a given week? When you fall for someone who doesn’t like you back? When no matter how hard you try you can’t maintain the same relationships you had a year ago? When your squad back home is living a different lifestyle than you and you can’t explain why you make the choices you do without offending anyone?

What about knowing that there is nothing you can do, without changing some core part of you?

What about the future? What of the past?

This poem is about rethinking my past, and learning how to trust myself again. There were times in my life that if I had trusted my gut, instead of my stupid and yet logical mind, I could have saved myself from some heartbreak.  I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe He will use everything for His glory, and to better us. Not everything is a trail, but we can learn a lesson from every test.

Think about it, if you knew what would happen wouldn’t it eat you up inside?

 

“If ignorance is bliss, knowledge must be torture”-INL

Torture

I knew

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you now,

I knew

The whisper inside of me that screamed “no you will ruin everything!”

The voice that pleaded with me to break his heart there and then for the sake of keeping him safe

That it wouldn’t last, I couldn’t fall fast,

That I could never say forever to my best friend

I knew

The moment I was furious at the boundaries crossed

When my fragile ideals were cast aside, and my innocence tested.

I fell head first into a kiddy pool of vocabulary, promises and whims

When you ran from an infatuation that was doomed to fade, while I dreamed about our future

I knew

When my gut kept me up at night

When the pain in my lower backside was not one of a natural kind

When admiring you for a year from afar disintegrated in less than an hour

And the similarities of father, and brother outweighed my initial, surface-level desires

I knew

When everything in me just wanted to see you again

To hear your voice in person, hear your laugh, be the reason why

When my past, longer than all the times of knowing before outweighed the glimmers in my future

When the whisper was finally a good one

And the pit in my stomach yelled “go, run,

Fall, trust me this time like you never have before

If you ever decide listen to me let it be now”

I knew

When the “I told you so’s were true, even before they came out of their closets

When everyone had an opinion after my heart was already broken

And offered solutions to a past I could not change

A mistake I could not stop my previous self from making

And those mistakes years ago were so obvious to the me in this now

I know I messed up, and I know I don’t need you saying you knew

Because I know I knew what I knew, and even then

I knew what I was doing, when I made a decision, when I didn’t listen

I know I messed up, I didn’t listen, made mistakes

But I know I don’t need anyone telling me I didn’t know what I already knew.

Not even myself

I knew when I put my heart in danger

I knew when I felt it bleeding out inside of me that I should have listened

I knew I still wouldn’t listen

I knew my head would win out again and again

and get me in trouble

But after all of this I know

I know that no one knows me better than the one above me and inside of me

I know that no matter what choice my mortal mind makes,

The mistakes, the thoughts, the feelings, the lessons

must be good, In the end

 

-Bee

Thoughts on Today

Hello everyone! This is from the desk of a college girl with thoughts, and yet not a lot to say,

I am sorry that this blog and it’s purpose have slipped my grasp, time has not been my friend and I have not made this a priority, so now have to live with the fact that this is not as full and present and booming as I would like it to be, but that is okay. So, moving forward, for the remainder of my lease of this URL I would like to use this space as a place to share some thoughts. Maybe in a world of spinning opinions, choices and demands, this could be my place to just voice the spinning mass that is my head, take it or leave it.

I want to be honest. I just want to be honest in a world too full of masks and lies. If my honesty is offensive to you, it is not intend so, they are just thoughts, and I will take ownership of them, all the while knowing I do not know everything and have lots to learn.

Gail Carson Levine wrote a novel called “Ever” (SPOILER ALERT) the heroine Kezi, chooses to become the goddess of uncertainty. Part of how Kezi wants to live, is to invite people to have opinions, thoughts, and help her figure things out “Wonder together”. The invitation to not need to have everything together, to make a mistake, to guess wrong.  I guess, maybe for now I am just someone who had some wondering to do…only time will tell….

So for now I will leave you with a small poem. Truth be told, I was falling asleep in my Finance class yesterday (In BIT right now TBH) and to keep me from falling asleep, I tried to use my unstable brain state, in and out of consciousness, to write this small piece. I hope you like it and I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Blessings!

-Bee

Today

Today

I know today as the immeasurable constant that ends in the multiverse of possibilities, and endless amounts of time between yesterday and tomorrow.

Today

A perfect mistake that spontaneously occurs through the duration of a universe that only lives for the length of a breath.

Today

A terrifying reality that presents new challenges, answers, opportunities, feelings, thoughts, actions, decisions and impact.

Today

The feeling of freezing in a continuum and yet striving to stay there, here, now, in this infinite moment of possibilities.

Today

The end of a beginning or beginning of an end, dependent on the choices we make, how we find ourselves in a sea of opinion, disillusion, waste, trial and fear.

Today

Another moment causing a vibration, ripples that can never be undone and erosion that will last forever.

Today

Forgetting the past only to repeat the future.

Today

Just another day

 

 

The Adventures of Watson and the Bee part 3

On the drive home from our weekend in DC with my family, Watson and I had the brilliant idea to recreate the dish that I was so disappointed with. While I am at university I work for our dining services and I am always asking my superiors questions about food.  I asked one of the cooks about scallops, where to find them here and any ideas on getting cocoa nibs to stick.  He recommended a flour, egg, and bread and fry method. He said make a breading which whatever I want, let it cure in the fridge and give them a fry.

A NOTE ON BREADING:

Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better?

This is why, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. The cook I asked about the scallops also confirmed this. My mom and I originally learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.

Watson and I did the shopping, invited my cousin Rachael and our friend Megu over and we started cooking. We could not find a celery root, but I did find the lotus root our plate was garnished with. We had scallops, turnip roots, greens, and cocoa nibs, everything we would need to recreate this dish the way we thought it should have been.

We started by making Tiramisu. We used a recipe that was given to me by a chef at my grandfather’s restaurant in Puerto Rico sorry to say I cannot put it on the internet. But it is an amazing way of making a light yet sturdy tiramisu.

Next we worked on the main dish…

The first thing I did was have Megu zest multiple oranges. I placed that and some orange juice, grapefruit juice and some maple syrup and pot and set it on low. I made sure our frozen scallops were thawing as a mixed panko, chopped cocoa nibs, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and paprika. I set the egg whites aside from when we made the tiramisu. (We only used the egg yolks). Instead of using all flour, I mixed cocoa powder into the flour and then the breading was ready and set aside. Watson pulled the seeds out of a pomegranate and Megu segmented the oranges.  Rachael made a salad dressing with Lemon juice and olive oil for the base and maple syrup as the sweetener. I told Rachael to add Parmesan cheese, pink pepper corns, black pepper, oregano, and parsley.

Meanwhile, Watson peeled and cut the two turnips, and a Yukon gold potato. She placed them in a pot with water, parsley, and fresh thyme. Once the roots were fork tender, we drained them and put them back in the pot with cream, butter and more herbs. The turnips and potatoes sat in the cream mixture while they cooled. I wanted them to absorb some of the liquid before we pureed it. Once the root chunks absorbed the mixture and cooled slightly, Watson ran the pieces through a blender and we seasoned with salt and pepper.

To actually prepare the scallops we first dried them with paper towels, floured them in a mixture of flour and cocoa powder, coated them with egg whites, then the spiced bread crumb mixture. I fried them in a mixture of canola and olive oil until the bread crumbs were crispy and the scallops were cooked.

A NOTE ON BREADING:

Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better? For example, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. Eric (one of the cook I work for here at school) has also confirmed this. My mom and I learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.

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So we had salad- Mixed greens with a maple citrus dressing, orange segments and pomegranate seeds.

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Scallops- fried to perfection on a serving of the puree with the glaze drizzled around and fried lotus on top

And dessert, make shift tiramisu

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Our scallops had flavor. The maple citrus glaze was present. All of the orange zest had the chance to brown and deepen in flavor. I won’t lie, I should have added the zest at the end to keep the brightness but alas, I couldn’t change it now. At least mine had both maple and citrus present. It was delicious. The browned sugar taste played off of the bitter, sweet and spicy breading with the creamy scallop. The puree was divine! It was so smooth and rich. Everything on the plate really just played so well together! I couldn’t believe we had done it! And it was every prettier than the plate we got in DC.

The salad. Even more citrus. The dressing Rachael made had every complexity you want out of a salad dressing. It was sweet, rich and tangy. Then, the pink pepper corns hit you. They were not spicy hot, they were rosy and so full of flavor; the subtle heat and complex umami they were providing went so well the scallop plate and the other components of the dish. The pomegranate and orange is a classic combination anyway. With mixed greens and some Parmesan cheese, the salad was a hit. On the table we had more pink pepper, black pepper and lime salt. I wanted citrus. So grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime were all represented. Overall, it was a success. Watson and I had an adventure, discovered a really good restaurant and then made some good food afterward.

Thank you for being strung along on this three part story. I am working on another adventure but with classes starting I might not be able to post as often as I would like.

Until we meet again, Happy eating!

Bee

 

 

The Adventure of Cara and the Bee…Part 2

Welcome back to the DC adventure of the two twins in Washington DC…let’s get to dinner 

We were going to a place called Co Co. Sala, which had been referred to me by a friend and coworker.

“The Co Co.  Sala ambiance is a chic atmosphere which evolves just like the menu as day becomes night.  Surrounded by the chocolate theme, it embodies all different day segments from breakfast to lunch, to the delicious and unique dinner menu offerings, to the luscious cocktail list and the euphoric night scene. a.m. | p.m. … mmm.” (From the design page on the restaurants website, Co Co. Sala)

Sounds great, right?

We were so excited. We knew that for two college students it would be on the expensive side, but our love of food (and the fact that we had only purchased cupcakes for lunch) we convinced ourselves  everything would be okay. Our waiter and hostess were very “sophisticated” airing on the side of presumptuous and snobby. Even though they were not the nicest to us (we think they assumed we were high schoolers or something) we were determined to enjoy this experience.

Cara and I decided to split the manchego salad and the scallop entree. (Having discovered scallops are both of our favorites)

Below are the menu entries pulled from the website without the prices

MANCHEGO & BABY ARUGULA SALAD

caramelized walnuts / dates / apples / oranges / hazelnut & coffee dressing

SCALLOPS+

pan seared cocoa nib crust / maple citrus glaze / celery root puree

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How the scallop dish was supposed to look, this was pulled from the restaurant’s website Coco Sala

We should have taken pictures. When our waiter brought the food to the table we were presented with two bowls of greens, one large and one small. Our waiter informed us that the scallops were under the greens in the large bowl. We thanked him, blessed the food, and ate.

Everything was cooked wonderfully, but the dishes did not deliver what was promised.

The salad: the walnuts were not caramelized, they were toasted, there was hardly any orange, the dressing was one note (sweet) and I could not taste any hazelnut or coffee. It was not the prettiest salad either. Everything was just mixed and mounded in a bowl with diced cheese on top. Everything was cut so small that the dish became a one-note sweet mess.

The scallops: 3 perfectly seared scallops hiding under yet another messy mixed green salad mound. I will say, we liked this dressing more, even though there was no maple citrus anything going on. There was no cocoa nib, let alone crust on the scallop. The celery root puree was good, but tasted oddly like cheese. To the point where Cara kept asking me if it was cheese, ad i had to assure her it was not.

I will say, Cara loved the atmosphere. And the place was modern/chic or something of that nature, but she could tell I was a little disappointed. If we were paying what we paid I wanted more out of these plates. If they wanted to make such claims on their website, they should live up to them.

It was during my frustration that I explained to Cara my goal in life is to be a food critic. I wanted to start blogging since high school. I had this great title and an idea for a concept for how and what I would write.

sherlock1-447196Are you familiar with the BBC show Sherlock? Well Sherlock calls himself the “consulting detective”. I wanted to be the “consulting food critic”. My career goal is to walk into a place, try the food and be able to offer more than an opinion, I want to be able to help even with the business stuff too. (which is why I am studying what I am studying) Cara’s response was just really encouraging. She told me to stop waiting and to just do it…so here we are. She also asked that if I was Sherlock, could she be Watson? So that is why Cara is Watson.

I told Watson that they had let me down so much that I didn’t want to give them the chance with dessert. We would get the check and leave, so we did.

Yelp led us to a place called DGBG just a block away for dessert. When we walked in the atmosphere was so warm and inviting and the host happily supplied us with dissert menus before we decided to stay.

We were seated and ordered the following:

ROCKY ROAD PROFITEROLE.
coffee-cardamom ice cream, marshmallow, hazelnut, hot chocolate sauce

SOUFFLÉ CHAUD.
grand marnier soufflé, vanilla anglaise

The server brought us our dessert. There was a soufflé and a chocolate dome with a little bit of gold leaf on top. We thought that was it…but the server didn’t leave. He preceded to pour the hot chocolate sauce onto the chocolate dome. It of course melted slowly but it was amazing! It was an at the table Magic Trick.

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The Souflee, pulled from DGBD on Intsagram

We thought that was all, but he cut an x into the top of the soufflé with one of our spoons and poured in the anglase. The soufflé raised a little bit and then began to lower slowing.

I dug my spoon into the ice cream picking up all of the layers.

I could taste everything

THIS was TRULY amazing.

The look on Watson’s face said it all. We were both amazed. The hot chocolate sauce was warm, with the cool creamy ice cream, chewy marshmallow, toasted nuts, and the crisp pastry that it was all sitting on. Everything, literarily every component was spot on.

I took my spoon to the soufflé. My first soufflé. WOW. That is all I can say.  Creaming and fluffy and wonderful and so full of flavor. I thought the vanilla got a little lost but overall I was really impressed.

We left happy and the staff wished us luck with the next part of our adventure. Watson and I have promised each other that we will go back one day, but not or just dessert. My complements to the chef, the staff and the owner. Thank you for making eating in the nations capital worth it.

Mikky Ekko, sir, you were amazing.

But the adventure still isn’t over. In the third and final part of this story we went back home and recreated CoCo. Sala’s dish, except he way we think it should have been done.

 

 

The Adventures of Cara and the Bee…Part 1

Hello World!

This is the first of many installments as a “potential blogger” so let the adventures begin with my new friend Cara. (Who will now be referred to as Watson after this story. Will be explained towards the end of the adventure)

So who on the earth is Cara?

Cara and I met in my college small group, that is part of an on campus ministry we are both involved in. We discovered we have the same birthday (DOWN TO THE YEAR) and we decided that because we were  born as twins, we are now and will be twins.

Something we bonded over was the discovery that we both listen to Mikky Ekko (if you don’t know who he is go look up a song called Smile, or Stay by Rhianna…I hope that helps…). So this last fall, Cara and I traveled to DC for a weekend to see him in concert at a small venue by the 9:30 club called “U Street Music Hall”.

Cara is from Baltimore and the closest city to my current home is Washington DC. I was so excited about this weekend because this was the first time I would be able to share my hometown and my city with a new friend. I wanted to show Cara everything I loved about my hometown and my city…we were about to drink lots of really good coffee…

Cara has an affinity for all things lemon. This was like a “challenge accepted” for me and my mom. We had our family spaghetti a lemone for dinner with lemon chicken AND a lemon dressed salad.

A note on Sulfites:

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Space filling model of a Sulfite ion SO3(-2)

Cara is allergic to sulfites. If she eats them she gets hives and it is not pleasant. So what are sulfates and where are they found? My mom and I found them in many things when we were cooking our lemon themed Italian meal for my new friend.

What is a sulfite? Compounds that contain a Sulfite Ion (SO3 (-2)), which are the conjugate bases of a bisulfates, just a fancy way of saying a compound with two sulfates. Sulfites are made in acid/base reactions when water reacts with an acid, or a base, to form a conjugate base, or conjugate acid.

So many things that you consume in your daily life have sulfates and this is why. From an aspiring food scientist’s perspective, sulfites are used as preservatives, or to halt/prevent fermentation. This is why they are more common in fruit, vegetable, alcoholic and prepared products. Look for sulfites in wine, salad dressings, dried fruits, and balsamic vinegar (stopping the fermentation process) lemon juice from concentrate (preventing fermentation) and cold cuts (preservative).

What to look for on your food label: Potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, Sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite or sodium sulfite.

Are they harmful? To most no, they are not harmful, however a lot of people react to them even though they are not allergic.  Sulfites are listed as one of the top 9 allergens according to the FDA.

Back to the story…

For breakfast the next morning we made Belgian style yeast waffles and homemade, sage and brown sugar, turkey sausage.  I made a brown butter orange glaze (yes orange, not lemon) for the waffles instead of syrup and we also had fresh berries that my dad had bought for us.

Saturday and Baked and Wired

Our goal that Saturday was to go thrifting to find dresses for a semi-formal that was approaching in December and also hopefully eat some good food along the way.

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The updated espresso bar of the “Wired” side, taken from Instagram

Our first stop once we made it into the city was a shop in Georgetown called Baked and Wired.  My  friend from home, Noa, told me about this place and the first time I went, I knew it was love at first sight. Baked and Wired is a very small place, only growing in popularity over the years. There is one main door and then the place splits into two, get wired on the right (coffee house half) get baked to the left (café half). The whole place belongs on Pinterest. My favorite part is this wall at the end of the wired half that has been painted with every color you can think of. It is so warm and happy I felt right at home.

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The Raspberry Cloud, also pulled from Instagram

Cara got the Raspberry Cloud cupcake and I got The Tessita. The raspberry cloud is a lemon cake with a raspberry lemon butter cream, the Tessita is a vanilla cake, Dulce de leche filling and a chocolate hazelnut ganache on top.  The Tessita was named after the owner’s daughter and it is my personal favorite. Then, we each got an Earl Grey London fog and we were happy campers.

Georgetown was lovely. We had an amazing day. After no luck thrifting Cara got on her smart phone and found us an H&M and Forever 21 over by the restaurant we wanted to try for dinner. We got in my Mini Cooper and drove across the city (so fun around 5pm in a manual transmission, thank goodness we did not stall).

For dinner we found this place that had been recommended to me by a friend and coworker. We were going to CoCo. Sala.

…To be continued

 

 

If Da Vinci was a Foodie

Hello everyone! Welcome to The Bee and The Striped Tablecloth!10922599_805966159486627_5494142041684558663_n

My name is Isabella, most people call me Bella or Bella Bee, so I am going to go by Bee on here.

I am currently in year three of five at college dual majoring in Food Science and Technology and Hospitality Tourism Management. I want to take this first post just to introduce myself to you and hopefully communicate why I am the way I am and why I have decided to join the world of food bloggers.

 

Let’s start with my family.

I was born in northeast Ohio in a suburb of Cleveland. I am child number three of four, with two older brothers and a little sister. I have a wonderful mother and father (let’s be real its mom and dad) and we moved to a nice home out in the country in northern Virginia when I was 3, where we have lived ever since.

I come from a Puerto Rican and Sicilian household, so I have grown up surrounded by loud music and really amazing food filled with garlic (on both sides).  My dad’s mother (Grandma) used to own a Victorian tea room, which she ran for over a decade. (Around this time I was a little kid…let’s say 5 or 6). Grandma’s tea room always smelled like lemon and almonds (mixed with a little bit of Giorgio Armani perfume). Walking into the tea room as a little girl was like walking into a storybook, think of every stereotype of a small girl having a tea party with her stuffed animals, think of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.Tea room

Grandma’s tearoom was magical. You would walk into this brick building on a small, cold square up in Ohio and the inside was like a sunny day filled with lace, china and powdered sugar.

 

cafe-de-la-plaza.jpgMy mom’s dad (Papi) has been involved in the hospitality industry for as long and I can remember. My Papi was hired to run a resort that was going bankrupt and put it in the black in 10 months, with no formal training. He has also been the brains behind a few really good restaurants in Puerto Rico (to the point where the local competition is copy catting his recipes and he now has to redo his menu to keep people interested)

Both Grandma and Papi are amazing cooks, each with a capacity to host weddings and family events and they have inspired me in my walk through food.

In all honesty…the real heroine is my mom.12244840_934946099921965_5746493765371895867_o

My mom is probably the best person you will ever meet. She is so creative in the kitchen and she has taught me how to learn.

She is an amazing cook and has always encouraged me as I have tested my cooking techniques and as I learned how to cook. We would go out to eat and after, we would try and figure out what ingredients were in each dish. Sometimes we would go home and try to recreate the dishes, and sometimes we made them even better.

So that is a small intro to my crazy and wonderful family.

What about influence?

My main influences include Cooks Illustrated magazine and PBS Create. I grew up without cable, satellite or anything of that nature. All of the cooking shows I watched were on PBS: Baking with Julia, Cooks Country and America’s Test Kitchen. I would be sure to have my homework and chores done each weekday around 5pm, so I would not miss any of my shows. I loved how Americas Test Kitchen explained the chemistry of what is happening to your food as you cook it. I love that they use chemistry to make recipes foolproof and determine the best treatment of your food. These shows would eventually lead me to choose food science as my current field of study…and why I want to write this blog 🙂

Leonardo Da Vinci was an artist known for mixing art and science to his advantage. He is still one of my biggest inspirations, I wish I could ask him questions and pick his brain. That is one of the reasons cooking has become such a passion of mine. It is the perfect way for me to mix art and science. I think that culinary art it truly the only type of art you can experience with ALL 5 senses. (One cannot taste a painting) and the use of science to make the most of what we have to work with is something admirable.

So, welcome! I hope you enjoy this quest I want to take as I am figuring out college, cooking and my career. (Mixed with my family, friends and values) I hope along the way we find new restaurants and ideas and lots of laughs and good times.  I want to push myself to be as honest with you all as I can, so in return, please know I am new at all of this.

Here’s to the start of new adventures!

-Bee