Paris, Je t’aime

March 13th, 14th, 15th

“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise” — Henry Miller

The last few days, the weather at Paris is becoming gradually warmer. Despite the occasional light shower, I’ve been able to enjoy Paris’ warm sunshine and pleasant light breeze. The places I adventured to in these past few days ranges from the grande and magnificent Palais Garnier (L’Opera Garnier) to the petit yet casually chic lesser-known private museums like Musée Gustave Moreau, Musée Cognacq-Jay and Maison du Victor Hugo. I got a feel for Paris’ artistic atmosphere through promenades through the artist districts Montmartre and Le Marais. I was also able to discover a little about French perfume and tea industry at the Fragonard Musée du Parfum and the Musée du thé of Mariage Frères.

March 13th

Originally, I wanted to see a ballet at L’Opera Garnier, but since the show I wanted to see, Orphée et Eurydice, does not premiere until the night I’m leaving Paris, I am not able to fulfill this hope during this trip (saving it for my next time at Paris). Despite that, I’m still stunned by the gorgeous interior of the great opera house. The shining halls of the opera are adored with numerous paintings and sculptures of famous dancers, singers, playwrights, and directors. The whole place has such a royal feeling that its name Palais Garnier is a rather appropriate description. Walking on the grande staircase in the opera house, I feel like I’m not just a spectator, but an actress part of a grand production, just like Charles Garnier has envisioned. FullSizeRender 53.jpg Continue reading “Paris, Je t’aime”

Feeling Affirmed

It’s been healing and comforting to be surrounded by people who affirm my identity. At Westtown, I’ve struggled with coming to terms with my identity in a space that is overwhelmingly white, cis, and straight. While Westtown is in some ways a progressive and open-minded community, it isn’t one in which there are many other people like me.

At the museum, I am being surrounded by queer people of color, their art, and their energies. My boss Lindsay is genderqueer and black! So are a lot of the teens in the programs I’ve been helping with over the past week. I’m so grateful to be spending time in a place with people who are so empathetic and passionate.

And the people I work with are similar to me outside of our shared identities; we’re all passionate about art! I’ve been engaging in amazing conversations with my supervisors and other teens alike about what art means to them, especially in relation to social justice. This is one of the few times in my life where I have not been the only one, and I am so happy.




Castle Ruins

March 9th, 2018 || (March 14th, 2018)

Hello everybody! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I spent most of the past two days flying back to Philadelphia while feeling very under the weather and now I’m terribly jet lagged. However, I wanted to make sure I posted this blog update by the end of the day today. I hope you enjoy!

Over the course of my travels, I’ve seen a lot of different castle ruins I thought it would be appropriate to write a small bit about some of the castles I’ve seen since they all hold important aspects about the general history of Ireland.

Castle Dunluce:

Castle Dunluce is now a ruined medieval castle located in Northern Ireland. The first known residents were the McQuillan family in 1513. However, the McQuillans lost possession of the castle after suffering two defeats in a series of battles against the MacDonnell and MacDonald Clans. However, it was the MacDonald Clan that eventually took full control of the castle. According to a local legend, the castle was later abandoned because the kitchen broke off of the main castle and fell into the sea during the 17th century. Although, this legend was disproven by archaeologists who believe that the kitchen didn’t collapse until the 18th century.


Continue reading “Castle Ruins”

Beyond My Years: Their Stories

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

– Lois Lowry, The Giver

March 14th, 2018 (2 more days left at Sunrise)

In the past couple of days, I have found my place in the community of Sunrise. I have been looking and listening to the life that resides here. From 70-years-old to 90-years-old, each resident is treated like an individual. I have seen and experienced the patience needed to work with some of the residents as dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and other mental or health issues coincide with their lives and daily movements of the day.

My experience at Sunrise has become more personal as I have interviewed eight residents so far. My plan is to interview two more residents as the week comes to a close. Each interview can last from 15 minutes to 50 minutes, it all depends on the person I speak with and their openness and ability to recall their personal life. I use a set of 12 questions to encourage the stories and guide the conversation along. Continue reading “Beyond My Years: Their Stories”

Fish are Food AND Friends – China Day 12

Written and posted March 14th, 2018

Today was our first full day in Hong Kong! While the weather was supposed to be nice, when we got up it was raining. We took a tour of Hong Kong, went on a boat ride and explored in the Aberdeen Fishing Village and Stanley Repulse Bay, took a tram to Victoria’s Peak, ate dim sum, had Indian food in SOHO for dinner, and explored the city. We saw pets in the market and also went on the world’s longest outdoor escalator! Today was a good day even with the rain, except we all really missed our tour guide Sunny. This is a short blog post since I am extremely tired. Tomorrow is our last day in Hong Kong and then we go home!

– Anna

Tuesday: It stands!

Day four of work on this table, and it stands beautifully!

Today’s work was to level out the four legs so that the tabletop would rest at 30 inches off the ground, a standard working desk height. This was a relatively simple matter of measuring 28.75″ from the “shoulder” (at the top of the leg, but just before the narrowing to the tenon) and pushing them through the table saw. Even so, it was gratifying to see this table come together and take physical shape.


The other matter of the day was cutting notches in the four legs using the wider dado blade so that they could accept the 1/2″ thickness of the shelf that will live below the tabletop as a practical resting place for books, papers, a computer, or even a set of utensils for a dining setup.

Here they are, all lined up and pretty . . .



. . . and here is the whole assembly!


Of course, the legs will eventually be inset completely in the shelf and they will each be precisely spaced so that each tenons fits into its respective mortise in the tabletop. That’s work for tomorrow, though.


Short day in the shop, short post for the blog — tomorrow will likely be the same.


Bright Lights in the Big City – China Day 11

Written and published March 13th, 2018

Today we flew to Hong Kong! It was Alex’s birthday as well so we sang and had a cake for her in the airport. When we got to Hong Kong we checked in at our hotel, toured the city, went shopping at Temple Street, and saw a laser show on the river. The photos were taken on my phone and there aren’t that many since it was a travel day.



The Final 72 – Cooking with a James Beard Award Winning Chef.

Monday March 12, 2018 10:33 P.M. EST

Friday began quite early again due to us getting home early from a restaurant  opening that I talked about in the previous blog. So the plan was to get up and work out early after dropping chef’s daughter off at school.  The only real reason that I went was to swim at the gym that I thought we were going to. Instead we went and made some desserts for the restaurant. Yiheng made a flour-less chocolate cake that is matched with a round piece of chocolate Ganache. Once that was done we had a quick breakfast across the street, and went on a shopping trip.  We went to visit the local Cutlery store called Ambrosi Bothers. They service almost all of the chef’s knives in the entire city of Kansas City. It was amazing to see all of the different gadgets, and knives to use in the kitchen. I already have a few chef’s knives but I did purchase a new slicing knife. This will aid me when I need to cut prepared meats and other cooked objects. After this fun, we began running our errands for the day. This included dropping off  catering supplies to the company that we made lunch for that past Wednesday, and making a run to the apple store. Once that Happened we went back to the restaurant to start our prep for service. It was quite busy that evening due to the large college basketball tournament taking place down the street. At one point during the night we had hit a rush where we sold 20 burgers in about 15 minutes.  There was also an group that came into the restaurant for a special dinner where nothing was ordered off the menu. One of the starters that we made was salmon tartar.  This was a lot of fun to make because it allowed me to learn the proper way to filet a fish. Chef Tio made it look so easy.  Once we filet the salmon she took a small piece of the fish and chopped it up very fine and adding all of these amazing ingredients to it, like an artist adding layers upon layers of color to their work. She also knew that I had never ate raw fish before. So pictured below was the first raw fish I have ever ate before in my entire life.


Below is one of the other menu items that we made for the group which was pan seared scallops with blanched potatoes that were then pan fried, with homemade chorizo, and pickled red onions.


Shortly after this dinner was done we made our dinner, and headed home for some well needed rest.  The next day would also be my last day at the restaurant. Unlike most days we slept in pretty late and enjoyed it very much. This was a major day for getting prep work done for the next week of the three month catering contract that Chef had just received.  Once all of the shopping was done Chef took us to a really cook place for lunch in which she called ” fun Chinese food.” This place was called Blue Koi and it had some great dumplings, and roasted duck. We all got hit with all of the dreaded food coma and we all went back to the house and took naps. We all got up and rushed over to the restaurant to begin prep work. I chopped lots of squash, and eggplant for Monday’s vegetable dish for the catering event. Since we had all of these vegetables around Yiheng wanted to make what is really called vegetable byaldi, but is better know from a famous Disney movie which is called Ratatouille.  Here is one of the ones that we made before it went into the oven compared to the one from the movie

IMG-0825.JPG     Image result for ratatouille movie dish

So with that we also made a few other dishes for fun with some of the salmon and potatoes from the night before. It was great to see all of our minds come together to see make some amazing food. For dinner that night I made a pan roasted salmon with a maple bourbon glaze and the same potatoes as the scallop dish the night before. It was such a hit that I didn’t get a picture of it.  So to wrap up my time at the restaurant I took pictures with some of the people I worked with. In the first picture is Keith who ran the grill in the kitchen. In the second picture are Daniel, and Jake, who are probably the funniest and most enjoyable bartenders I’ve ever met.



Finally here are some of the pictures of the restaurant and kitchen.

IMG-0827 – The Dish Room

IMG-0828 The Kitchen: Small but Mighty

IMG-0822 – A map Showing Westtown township including Westtown’s Campus.

IMG-0823 The restaurant from the view of a comfy couch as I rest my feet briefly.

Sunday was a nice day to end my adventure out in Kansas City. After Sleeping in and packing we went to a donut shop for breakfast and then went around town on a street car, and took a few final pictures before I got to the airport.

The First picture below is me standing exactly in both Kansas and Missouri at the same time.


And the final picture taken of course was with Chef herself at the belfry before she took me to the airport so I could catch my flight home.

IMG-5633 Thank you for reading the blog, and I will be writing a shorter blog in a few days with a reflection of my time out with Chef Tio.  Until next time!


Une Excuse d’une “Mauvaise Touriste”

March 10th, 11th, 12th

“Not all those who wander are lost”– J. R. R. Tolkien

I would admit at the beginning that I’m not really good at traveling. I’m not good at planning my day ahead of time and I’m even worse at following my plan throughout the day. Also, I never have the best luck when I’m traveling: I would arrive at the bus stop to find that my bus has just left; if I decide to turn left at a crossroad, I would soon discover that Comédie Francaise (the place I’m looking for) is in the opposite direction; if I decide to not bring an umbrella today, it would definitely rain, but if I did bring one, it never rains; in the worst case scenario, I’ll finally arrive at a place I longed to visit to find it closed for the day or even the season. When I travel, there’s simply too many unexpected “accidents” and too little time to plan ahead for all of them. I will admit that many of these accidents happened because of my own fault: because I’m really bad at navigating, or because I forgot to check the museum website for open hours. Yet, there are times when nature plays tricks on me, like today when a heavy shower hit while I was enjoying the sun and the statues at Jardin Tuileries. IMG_7145

A statue at the Jardin Tuileries just before the storm

Yet, I would say, despite my lack of skill and general misfortune as a traveler, I do possess one important gift: making the best out of my situation. For example, when the sudden rain forced me to alter my plan to enjoy the Jardin Tuileries, I found myself not distressed, but glad that I could take some time to myself and enjoy a pot of tea at the small café in the garden. When I found that I have run out of time to visit another private museum today, I found myself happily wandering into churches that are not even on my original list of places to visit. To be honest, these impromptu visits often bring me the most joy and excitement.

FullSizeRender 17

The impressive dome at Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption (the church I wandered into)FullSizeRender 36FullSizeRender 37
Interior of La Madeleine


My favorites at the Musée de l’Orangerie

I believe these accidents and wandering is the best part of traveling alone. Because I’m not afraid to be lost and to wander, I can travel to a broader horizon without getting afraid. I wonder and discover, knowing that I’ll find my way at the end. And perhaps, I will find a new part of me on the way.

Weekend adventure to Fontainebleau
Some Gallo-Romain artifacts at Château de Saint-Germain (Le Musée d’Archéologie nationale)IMG_7054.JPG


Alexandre Dumas père’s study


Exterior and interior of Alexandre Dumas père’s house Le château de Monte Cristo

I’m grateful to be in Paris, a city where I can wander aimlessly and still be awed. I’m even more thankful for having enough time to “waste” in such a breathtaking city!





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The museum’s One Basquiat exhibition is amazing. It is only one painting in a mostly empty room, but somehow that connects you to Basquiat even more deeply than if there were a whole collection of his work. There is something amazing about a painting that allows you to time travel into the exact setting of the artist. It was a deeply emotional experience for me to view the painting as I’ve always loved Basquiat.

The work was donated by Yusuku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and art collector who bought the it for $110 million dollars.The purchase made history as the most expensive American painting ever auctioned, so it was a huge deal in the art world when he bought it. Since I keep up with art news, I remember hearing it about it on one of my favorite podcasts! The purchase was a huge deal not only because of the price tag, but because Basquiat was a black artist in a largely white art world. On Friday, Mr. Maezawa came to talk to teen staff about how the education department was using the artwork!

It’s been a great first week and I’m feeling extremely grateful and inspired by the art around me.