Coconut M&M's and Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M's

After a couple of weeks, many store visits, and even more odd looks from store employees, I found the two new flavors of M&M's candy. Lucky for me, they were both in the same 7-Eleven store. The scene was rather interesting as I was very excited and took 3 of each kind for purchase. With a huge smile on my face, I said to the man at the register: "This is so great! I finally found these. No other store I have been to had these!" I get a puzzled look. He examines the candy bags: "Oh, that's cool, we have these...." Well, I hope he tasted them at some point because they are yummy.

Coconut M&M's
The Coconut M&M's have a pleasant Coconut butter essence. The chocolate is certainly up to the M&M's standard. The design of the package is fresh and new. These candies give a relaxing feeling with a hint of Hawaiian beach. Good stuff!

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M's
A peanut butter center is deliciously rich but not too heavy. The strawberry flavor gives peanut butter and chocolate just the right balance. I found that the sugar coating of these was thinner and mimicked the softness of the PB&J's experience!


Chew with Glee and Satisfaction

Given my, sometimes obsessive, hobby of searching for yummy things I have not seen before,
I was bound to notice Glee Gum, near a checkout counter. The first time I saw it must have been at a Whole Foods. I thought: "Wow, I have to try this gum made from chicle that was acquired from Sapodilla trees that grow in the rain forests of Central America!" My instant favorite was the Tangerine flavor until I tried Bubblegum.

Glee also makes the only Cinnamon flavor I can tolerate. It is zesty but not too strong. Best of all, there is a Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit. I have no doubt that one of these days I will revisit childhood and make my very own gum. Exciting!


Musical Memories

Red Hot Chili Peppers take me to a number of great memories having to do with one of my dearest friends. In general, familiar songs usually have some significance to me. Each time, I am amazed at the powerful emotions roused by a few songs.
Different types of music can serve various purposes in one's life besides stirring up memories. Rock music can be used to get energized prior to a meeting or a presentation. It can also help soothe anger. Dance music definitely works for energy but more on the aerobic and happy side of things. Classical helps with relaxation and clarity. I have yet to understand the beauty of classical music but I see progress there! I think I would rather learn to play the classics on piano first. I hope after that, the understanding will surely follow.



Masks have always intrigued me. They can be great fun and create a sense of mystery at costume parties. Arguably, people wear masks of some sort a lot more often than an occasional party, more likely, on daily basis. Makeup would be the best example here and one of common physical masks.
The other type of a mask is the one that is more difficult to notice and identify. Wearing this kind of a mask can be compared to taking on a different personality to show to the people outside of some predefined comfort zone of the wearer. Conforming to surrounding society or community norms, however, is usually a necessary skill to practice. Similar to the necessity of applying stereotypes, wearing masks makes life easier. With stereotypes, people are able to quickly organize the constantly incoming information flow. With masks, people can go about their daily life without having to explain their uniqueness if they do not want to, without frequent misunderstandings but protecting their innermost personality traits from possible attacks. Too often though, the barriers are thick and getting to know someone well becomes a uncommon privilege.

In Pursuit of Finding New Things

My dear friend Arun made a great point the other day. When we were talking about blogging and using Twitter, she said something along the lines of: You always told me about new types of gum and candy, so why are you not writing about it in your blog? Arun is right to question why I have been excluding my hobby of searching for new edibles. I guess I can write about my findings after all.

I cannot be sure when or why this hobby came along. Every time I am in a store that sells gum, snacks, candy, dried fruit, or any other fun tasty-looking stuff, I stop at the counter and search for something I have not seen or tasted before. If I hear about something I think may taste good, I will employ the web and go from store to store until I find it. Nice bloggers, like the author of
Candy Blog, kindly inform my interest in sweets.

This hobby of mine, can be distracting on trips when I spend extra time lingering at all the small kiosks. It can also be annoying to people who are with me because I do like to make sure I see everything! Not many people like to go grocery shopping with me because they know, for me, it is a fun time to look around!

One of the latest things I have finally found and tried was Siggi's skyr. So far, my favorite flavor is Pomegranate and Passion Fruit. The Orange and Ginger flavor is also very good. I am looking forward to finding the Acai kind soon! I read about this Icelandic yogurt a long time ago, but had to wait until it arrived at the West Coast stores. Had I visited the East side of the US, I would have been sure to look for it. Yes, this hobby is something I am passionate about!

Arun, thank you so much for the reminder! I was off looking for the Coconut M&Ms and the Peanut Strawberry M&M's. Well, I have found them. Review coming soon...

...just found this fun gum website for Wrigley 5


Time as a Cure

"Tick, tock," said the clock by the mirror, around 3am last night. Thing is, I usually do not hear it reminding me that precious seconds are constantly running into the past. The fact that I had to listen to it with some irritation made me think of the concept of passing time during the day today. Of course, a song's lyrics (by David Guetta) then helped me pin point a specific thought: "Time can wipe the tears away."

Either sadly or on a higher note, time does seem to cure many things. It cannot cure cancer per se, but if a person passes on to a better place, the disease no longer burdens the non-physical part of the person. Lost moments take both happy and sad feelings away. Time mends the pains in one's heart as well. After enough experiences, if a bad feeling comes on, I know to brace myself and wait for minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years, until it gets easier to breathe. While improvement develops however, it is important to move on with the daily life and to new activities. The process of curing happens faster that way.

Time is also a fierce enemy in the meanwhile. As it sprints by, so many moments and opportunities are gone with it. Stop and smell the roses. How does that quote go exactly? Regardless of correct wording the idea is simple. I pay attention to Buddha's teachings for that as well. One should walk the golden mean while taking note and appreciating every moment of the situation he or she is in. Unfortnately, I still worry about the time lost and would rather focus on the good ability of time to mend and cure. Remembering that the flow of life takes precious moments and puts them behinds us, inspires me to make the most of the rest of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years that are yet to come.


Strawberry ~ Social Network Preference Study

I enjoy reading various study results because they feed my curiosity. My attention is usually caught by topics related to health, relationships, psychology and family life. Social interactions are also on the list of "things i would like to learn more about," so this study by Anderson Analytics is very interesting to me. Mr. Anderson and his team conducted a study about social network users and their preferences. Further, they analysed the results to create mini user profiles by the user's network of choice.

I remember creating my first accounts at Myspace and Friendster. Both subscriptions were inspired by my friends. I liked the idea that now I could connect with them in yet another way besides meeting in person, talking on the phone, and sending emails or texts. Myspace seemed so chaotic to me. Too much was going on there. No wonder, I really wanted to sing up for Facebook when I first saw it. Of course I had to wait until everyone was finally able to sign up, since my undergraduate university was too small to make the Facebook accepted list.

Enough time has passed since the introduction of social networks, so now user preferences are worth exploring. As a marketer at heart, I see how user profiles per favorite network can be useful for targeting purposes or just good consumer behavior information for the sake of knowledge. I think that Anderson's profiles are pretty close to what my own assumptions about the network users would be. People on LinkedIn are there for business (professional reasons) and the rest of their profile goes with a business person's habits. Myspace is vibrant, colorful and loud, so naturally it draws a younger and more fleeting crowd. Facebook is too large to pin down because even the anti-social people are on it, hidden or otherwise. Now Twitter is a new breed and its members rank high on liking news about many topics. That is what I like Twitter most for: being in the know about what you want, at a moment's notice, short and tweet.

If you are a fan of social networking or know someone who is, give this article on AdAge a quick read. It may inspire thoughts or conversations.


Soundtrack of Life

I did not plan to write about Michael Jackson’s passing, but after watching the tribute held at the Staples Center today, I changed my mind. The journalists and reporters say that some people are sad about Jackson’s death because his music is closely connected to parts of their life. Besides admiring his talent, I associate the music and videos with growing up. Given that those were some of the happiest years of life and living at home, it is sad to realize that yet another part of those memories is forever gone.

Many sounds, scents, and tastes can make us travel back in time for a short moment. Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video takes me to my parents’ living room in an apartment on Prospekt Mira. During the first minutes of the video my mom hides behind me and tells me not to look at the screen! Needless to say, I did not see Michael Jackson’s transformation into the hairy creature and then to a zombie for a very long time. I knew exactly what it sounded like and the exact moment when I needed to look away. Then one evening, I heard the words: “Tai, you can probably see this scene now. You will see it is just makeup and it is not that scary after all.” That was the evening I finally saw the clawed hairy monster. It was great!

That moment could have been the beginning of my long-time excitement about horror movies and scary stories. In any case, as early as I remember myself, I always enjoyed a vivid frightening story or a good chilling film. I remember Jackson’s music for being a part of my childhood days, which have certainly played a role in leading up to who I am today. Just as many things shape us, that iconic music video likely added to my imagination for oil paintings and gave me a useful “time transport” to about 25 year ago.


Sunny Side Up ~ Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The title phrase is all too familiar. My understanding of how talking relates to actually doing began in the early years. I remember well, when my father said: “You should really think before you speak,” after I had said something out of place. I was getting into his deep blue Moskvish (a Russian car brand) and wondering what his educational remark could mean to me. Much time has passed since that day but I still remember that phrase often.

The significance I derived is close to the lesson behind the phrase: “actions speak louder than words.” Saying something without meaning is mostly useless, in my opinion. While some societies allow empty words as a way of daily life, it does not promote the importance of speech further than the concept of air filled with sound. Speaking about actions that never occur may allow someone to benefit for a short while. It is like making enthusiastic promises in a convincing manner. This seemingly established value, however, will only last until the receiver of the message sees the absence of actions. After all, words do not keep us warm on cold days; neither do they feed us when we are hungry.

It is possible that believing will keep one warm and put off the feeling of hunger. Most have experienced this dedication and belief through a strong infatuation with a new crush. Sure. Yet, having this belief is essential. This belief, however, will fade after continued disappointments. The lesson I learned from my father, I try to practice as often as I can. I greatly respect those who tell the truth and are able to be tactful at the same time. It takes courage to speak one’s mind. I also usually show what I feel by actions. Yet in the society that values words, doing and not speaking results in sometimes uncomfortable misunderstandings.


Sunny Side Up ~ A Positive Note of Aging

There are times I walk past reflective walls, doors or even mirrors and catch a glimpse of a familiar person. Yes, this person is me but that is not who I think of in that moment. I see my mom.

Throughout the years people have told my mom and I that we look alike. Yet, mom kept saying that she does not think so and that I do not look particularly like one family member. She says that I got a bit of everyone in me. Still, even on the phone people continue to confuse us.

As time goes by, I look more like mom with each year. Similar haircuts certainly add to this effect along with my evolving mannerisms and the actual fact of growing up. Although being a woman usually means having to do everything to put off the aging as long as possible, I do not mind it that much. Living away from my parents’ house and missing my mom very much, makes an ability to look in the mirror and see her face an amazing thing to have.


Vanilla ~ Chocolate Treats

Red packages filled with chocolates appeared on the store shelves even earlier this year than the last. The retailers have placed their orders with confection manufacturers and were eager to unpack the boxes. The chocolatiers are certainly happy it is holiday time again with yet another wait until Easter. I guess it is time to embrace the chocolate cravings with a good excuse. Even the healthy eaters appreciate this time of year. An extra piece of a smooth dark chocolaty treat is sure to add some antioxidant benefits.

Now is the perfect time to let your loved one know you would like them to have a sweet sensation in their mouth. The appropriate follow up to delicious chocolates may well be a kiss. You can also let your friends know that you appreciate them in your life. After all, our friends are the ones who lend a helping hand in the time of need or offer a sympathetic ear when you need to vent.

So which will it be? A chocolate covered fortune cookie? A rich truffle? Or a light yet flavorful heart with a cute line?