Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone!  

Have fun and stay safe out there!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14th Holidays

Happy White Day and Pi Day, everyone! 

pic source: SakanaSushi

Pi is exactly 3.14!  *Gasp!*  :D
Not quite, but it is a useful math constant.  Happy Pi Day!

Also, Happy White Day!  Can you imagine if the US had White Day?  I can already see a bunch of people flipping out or silently glowering, lol.  It's actually another Valentine's Day for several countries such as Japan, South Korea, China--even Vietnam.  They didn't have Valentine's Day or White Day in Vietnam when I was there.  Of course, these days, some even celebrate Thanksgiving even though they've no idea what it is.  Another reason for food and fun so why not, I guess?

Anyhow, Valentine's Day on 2/14 is for girls to buy (or make) gifts (chocolate/sweets) for guys.  White Day, 3/14, is when guys buy (or make) gifts for girls. Pretty nice.  I think in the US, Valentine's Day is typically for women to indulge a little and get to feel super loved for a day (if they're lucky to have someone).  I like the idea of two holidays, one where the guys feel special too.  This could be a cool holiday to adopt in the West except do we really need another reason to gorge on more discounted candies the day after? [...Yes.  Yes, we do. ]

Well, whether you do or don't celebrate these "holidays," Happy 3/14!

~Lenne Penry

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Update

Hey everyone,

Hope you're doing well. 

I've been wasting a lot of electricity lately by getting all hyped up, turning on my computer and then staring blankly at the screen for hours.  I have no idea where this story is going and when I manage to get a few sentences out, end up writing my characters into a corner.  The fourth book to Polaris is giving me lot of heartache--or maybe more like heartburn.  I think I'm trying to incorporate too many background stories from side characters that it's taking up space.  Almost 400 pages in and I feel like I need another 500 after rewriting about 150.  These books keep getting longer because the characters have more to say.  Also, I'm not really feeling the "spark" between my MC and the guys, probably because these guys are more the tsundere types, and that spark is hard to create when the MC, despite being hot-headed, isn't particularly a warm character either.  She's kind of a tsundere sometimes so then we have three tsundere characters looking awkwardly at one another (or maybe ignoring each other) at this dull party full of wallflowers.  Oh boy... Needless to say, I don't think this book will be done by July unless I have an epiphany.

I do have some ideas for the CGs though.  I had the image of Mizuki from the Ninja Destiny otome in my mind for Ying but Ying is said to have long tuffs of hair while Mizuki's is short.  Plus, Ying is older (~35 yrs old) and I wanted to go with the realistic art again instead of anime-ish art so he won't end up looking much like Mizuki.  Yue will be even more difficult because he's supposed to be super hunky and um... I'm not sure if I can pull the art off on that but I will try.  Just keep in mind he's supposed to be super hunky ;)

Lastly, I'm wondering if I should be nice and keep the book light and airy or go a little dark and start chopping off characters like a Shakespeare play.  Demons and Demon Slayers were covered in the last full volume while Huang Nu were mentioned in the volume 3.5.  This book is supposed to delve farther into the Huang Nu's bloodline history which is kind of dark and sad.  It is an otome though and not a Romance of the Three Kingdoms type book.  Maybe I'll save the Shakespeare thing for my own version an epic Chinese warring states tale later on.  Who knows?  I'm just throwing out ideas, folks.  Feel free to comment.

Other than working on the book, I just found out my employers approved my request to bum off another team's conference trip and I'll be spending Spring Break somewhere nice... wearing a suit and listening to a 12-hr symposium.  Oh well, better than nothing.  I can still run to the beach afterwards and maybe take a couple of pictures.

One last note, just a reminder that if you would like to do an honest review for one of my books, look me up on Amazon and let me know your email address via Twitter (@lennepenry) along with the book title you'd like to review.  I'll send you a redemption code.  I'd also appreciate it. <3

Thanks for visiting!
~Lenne Penry

Friday, March 2, 2018

My First Photo Op with a Celebrity


So I met Lidia Bastianich, the famous Italian chef from PBS (and previously, Food Network).  I'm not a super fan or anything but I did watch her show back in my teenage years on the weekends, when I still had time.  Couldn't pass up the photo op.

I didn't buy a book or anything, just asked to take a pic with her.  She was super nice about it despite me being a cheap-o.  Saw a bunch of people approached her asking for help with their businesses; ie, promoting their products.  She listened and for the most part, was open to helping them, which I thought was really nice.

They had some chefs preparing her recipes too.  I tried the ravioli which didn't look special in anyway whatsoever, the sauce looked kind of pale actually... but when I tasted it... OMG, it was awesome!  Went back for seconds ;)  Overall, it was a nice experience.  She's a pretty cool lady.  If you haven't checked out her shows, she's on PBS Create (I think) or just YouTube them.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Random Review: Farmstead Apothecary Jojoba Face Cream

Hey everyone,

This will one of my boring rants / reviews so if that sounds terribly annoying to you, feel free to close out the blog.  Won't hurt my feelings, I promise.

picture source:

I used to like Bath & Body a lot.  Hadn't been there in years but during their semi annual sale earlier this year, I decided to splurge on some lotions, soaps, perfume, etc.  I ended up getting a terrible headache from the perfume and the lotions.  Even the more expensive ones which weren't discounted, didn't seem to react well.  I'm not saying Bath & Body is a bad brand but it seems suited for younger folks.  Those ingredients that most people can't read seem to agitate my system now in my old age.  I'm leaning toward the natural ways.

If you're like me, no longer a spring chicken, chances are your skin have seen better days.  Chances are you've used harsh chemical-filled lotions, face washes, etc without thinking twice and then attributed bad skin issues to age.  In my early twenties, I started using those face washes which advertised opening up pore and whatnot for a deep clean and as a young person at the time, I wanted to try something new without much thought about what went on my face.  Well, they opened up pores all right and never closed them.  My once smooth, taut skin looks riddled with huge pores; skin became lackluster and not many years later, I looked like a dog with droopy cheeks.  Then I tried the so called most gentle brand of face wash thinking it would help the bad skin issues, and it made my face burned.  In fact, after having ruined my face from those cleansers, my skin has become excessively sensitive that all those popular brands make my face burn.

So... I turned to expensive brands hoping they could fix my bad skin issues like roughness, huge pores, droopiness, dark spots, etc thinking it's an age/hydration thing.  My sister who used Estee Lauder and those expensive department store creams claimed their effectiveness and I decided to loosen the purse strings and tried those out, even Clinique, which I heard great things about.  Made my skin smooth after the first several applications and then started burning.  After having those jars/tubes for a while, they developed some strange alterations in the smell, like denaturing alcohol.  In the long run, nothing changed to fix the problems I wanted fix and I was nervous every time I put those on wondering if adding more chemicals was going to fix what chemicals might have damaged.

Back in December, I was on Amazon looking to spend my gift card, I found this brand and thought I'd share it with you: Farmstead Apothecary.  ***Just a note that I am not endorsing this product or claiming its effectiveness.  I am not being paid to write this (though would be nice if that were the case!).  Just sharing my experience with anyone interested in a more natural alternative to those chemical filled products.***

Farmstead Apothecary's face cream brand claims 100% natural, vegan, cruelty free (not tested on animals), no alcohol or drying agents, organic, 8 ingredients or less, and the products are scented with real fruit.

This is really the ingredient list on their Anti-Aging Face Cream with Jojoba Oil:
Ingredients: Water, organic safflower oil, organic jojoba oil, non-GMO vegetable emulsifying wax, organic radish root ferment, stearic acid, non-GMO vitamin E oil, organic natural fruit fragrance

As they further explain on their website, the stearic acid is derived from plants.  I heard good things about jojoba (pig nut) but never tried.  Figure it wouldn't hurt and the online reviews, though limited, were positive.  Hey, I had free money from a gift card and at less than $20, still a world cheaper than those fancy brands that did nothing.

I'm not sure what I expected. The product came in a plastic jar which to me, felt cheap, but I guess those fancy brands use fancy jars and then charge an arm and a leg.  Mentally though, I did think it was cheap. First impression after opening the jar was: this looks like Crisco and smells like weird yogurt.  I could smell both of the scents marked on the label but they oddly did not go well together.  It could have been attributed to jojoba, I don't know.  This was another mental note made that lowered expectations right away.  However, I kept looking at the simple ingredient list and decided why the heck not?

Well, I'm glad I gave this brand a chance.  After a couple months of using this product, my skin looks a lot nicer.  The pore issues have dramatically decreased, my skin feels taut to the point that I thought my chubby face shrank.  Used it on my neck which has the second chin issue and that seemed to diminish as well. Skin feels smooth but not doughy (if you know what I mean).  Only downside though is that if I happen to get my skin wet after application, and I mean hours later, not immediately, some of the smoothness diminishes and seems skin around the eyebrows area flakes a bit.  I'm not sure if that's due to the cream or something else. Overall, like other face cream, reapplication is a must to keep the "hawtness" going (XD)  The jar is 4 oz.  I still have at least half left after applying it daily for about two months.  I can easily see this lasting four to six months.

Final Thoughts: Farmstead Apothecary has my business, at least for face cream.  I've tried their body butter and not entirely impressed but we'll leave it at that.  Sans the initial smell which has become normal to me, I love the natural ingredients.  I don't feel uneasiness when putting this on my skin compared to chemical filled products.  It goes to show that price doesn't always equate to quality or effectiveness (at least for me).  Natural is sometimes the way.  This small brand got it right.

Hope I've bored the snot out of you.  Thanks for reading!

~Lenne Penry

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Vietnamese New Year

Happy New Year!

It's not a Vietnamese New Year without a table of goodies.  There are fruits, flowers, assorted cakes/cookies, traditional items like banh day and banh nep, new year candy, drinks, etc.  Usually banh chung and tet are available too but I already ate them.  I forgot to take some pictures of food yesterday.  Today's Friday during lent so no meat.

My sister is making banh tet/chung later so I'm sure I'll have more pics.

Also, the final picture is a quick cung table, like an alter, with food offerings for ancestors.  New Year is a time to spend with family, including those who have departed.  Prayers are used to call them back to join in a meal, give blessing to the family and pretty much chill out.  At the end of new year, there's a ceremony (prayers) to send them off.  Offerings are often done for three days plus an additional day for send-off, so I guess technically four.

It's been a busy day.  Hopefully it won't be cold tomorrow so I can go watch the lion dance.  New Year always equal food and I'm hungry, so going to have early dinner now.

Happy New Year, folks!
~Lenne Penry

Banh day dau. 
 Banh nep.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới      

~Lenne Penry