Saturday, November 19, 2016

Exploring San Diego's Nijiya Market-a Foodie's Paradise!

I absolutely adore this Japanese grocery store called Nijiya Market located in Kearney Mesa. It is a foodie's paradise, hahaha! Japanese food is one of my favorite cuisines.  Obviously, you can find all the ingredients necessary to prepare a Japanese meal, but I love coming here for other reasons too!  I come here for...
  • Samples!  On this day they were giving samples of a hot green tea! On another day, they had samples of dumplings and seaweed!

  • Cute displays! This was a cartoon video being played near one of their refrigerated sections. I don't know any other grocery store that has this!
  • Hello Kitty items! Nijiya not only sells food, but they sell all sorts of cute things! They also sell little toys, which make perfect fillers for a party treat bag!

  • Desserts!  They have a whole refrigerated selection of whole cakes and individual dessert items as well. Sometimes they will have special items for sale, especially if it is a Japanese holiday. On this day, there were boxes of cookies for sale and some packages of cute mochi!

  • Snacks!  I love the fun packaging that they come in. Their snacks are great for your child's lunch boxWhen I host a meeting at school, I bring in something new for everyone to try. 

  • Hawaiian drinks! They carry a great selection of these yummy fruity drinks!
  • Prepared food!  The selection of prepared food is awesome! The entire back wall is filled with ready-to-eat food! We have come here to pick up items for lunch for the week, easy dinners and even long plane rides! The food looks like the person who made it did it with much care! You'll find sandwiches, wraps, sushi, and bento meals! They also have some hot food available too, mostly fried goodness. There is a microwave and utensils near the checkout registers and some tables outside if you want to enjoy your food right away. 

  • Bread!  They seem to have frequent deliveries from their Japanese bread supplier that keep their shelves stocked. Bread loaves and pastries all around! If you like brick toast, they sell a whole loaf so that you can slice to your desired thickness at home!

  • Seafood! You can find octopus, squid, shrimp, and all kinds of fish here!  On this day, someone was filleting a fish out in the aisle and packaging it for sale right there on the table!

I hope my pictures have done the little market justice! Parking can be tough at peak meal times because the shared lots also is used for several restaurants in the same strip mall.  If you go, be prepared to spend some time going up and down the aisles! I love this place and hope you do too!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Turning the Tide: A New Look at What Colleges Want! Making Caring Common!

Fall is "College Application Time"! Having been a university application reader for a few years now, I am always interested in changes regarding the college application process. I have written pieces before on suggestions for getting students in the college of their choice, but reality is the competitive nature of the whole college application process just isn't good for students' mental health nor can it really be fair to those from underprivileged backgrounds. Our students are stressed, sleep-deprived, and filled with anxiety over padding their resumes with lists of activities and accomplishments, which may be misleading as to a student's true potential.

I am pleased to inform you that in January of 2016, a project sponsored by the Harvard School of Education entitled Making Caring Common released a report, "Turning the Tide, Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through the College Admissions".  In a nutshell, the report focused on the shared vision of how to improve the role of the college admissions process in promoting ethical and intellectual engagement. Several admissions officers from high ranking colleges and universities (Harvard of course, MIT, Yale, Princeton and many more)  pledged to utilize a lens of depth and demonstration of caring in student contributions listed in  the application. This is a completely new focus from past practice of looking at a list of a student's personal success.

The report offered recommendations in reshaping the admissions process in three areas:

#1: Promoting more meaningful contributions to others, community service and engagement with the public good.

Participation in meaningful sustained community service with a emphasis on whether students immersed themselves in an experience will be encouraged in hopes that students benefit from the emotional and ethical awareness and skills generated by that experience.  In addition, colleges are looking for service that involves a community connection. The hope is that students who participate in problem solving of local issues and contribution will most likely lead to a greater understanding of and investment in the common good. Another factor that will be considered is whether a student participated in authentic meaningful experiences with diversity, so that students can work together and learn from one another. Finally, the report encouraged community involvement that appreciates the contributions of generations before them to develop a sense of gratitude.

#2: Assessing students’ ethical engagement and contributions to others in ways that reflect varying types of family and community contributions across race, culture and class.

The report recommended that colleges pay more attention to student contributions to their own family, i.e. a student who had to watch younger siblings nightly because his single mother worked two jobs. The report also stated that the admissions process should assess whether students are demonstrating responsibility and concern for others and their communities in their daily lives . That students’ day-to-day conduct should be weighed more heavily in admissions than the nature of the community service performed.

#3:  Redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure.

The report also stated that college admissions should encourage students to share two or three meaningful experiences rather than a long "brag sheet." The key word being meaningful. Secondly, admissions offices should also try to change the perception that students are penalized in the admissions process if they don't take a heavy load of AP/IB courses. In addition, another recommendation to admission offices is to place more weight on an authentic student voice in the application, that it shouldn't appear to be coached. Next, the report also questioned the validity of taking SAT/ACT tests and encouraged colleges to work to relieve undue pressure associated with these tests. Some suggestions to colleges included: making these tests optional, clearly describing to applicants how much these tests actually “count”, and discouraging students from taking an admissions test more than twice. The last recommendation was for college admission offices to dispel the perception  that there are only a handful of excellent colleges and that only these colleges are vital to job success.

For the future of our youth's mental health and general good will of society, I see this as a good thing!
What do you think?  Please leave me a comment below.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

"101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up" by Suzette Valle

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting author, mom and woman extraordinaire, Suzette Valle! Her book, 101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up was released late last year.

The book is a interactive movie diary/journal.  It is colorful, easy to read, contains fun facts and lists a variety of movies from animated movies to classics to musicals to foreign films to documentaries. It really has a great selection.

Some of my favorite films made the list: The Karate Kid, The Sandlot, Rudy, Pretty in Pink, Drumline and ALL of the Disney films!  As it turns out,  I have watched 77 of the films! The only switch I would make in the recommendations from the book is the "Pride & Prejudice" film. Having seen the 1995 film and the 2005 film, I prefer the one made with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle instead of Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfayden. Maybe it's just because I find Colin Firth more dashing, ha!

101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up is wonderful to have as a guide when it is family movie night.  Pick one of the movies together and afterwards you can write the date you saw it, some notes about the movie and rate the movie out of five stars. I can see this book being one of those items that becomes a family memoir of sorts, a definite keepsake. The book is sturdy and the paper is of high quality print so that it can be passed down from generation to generation. It will definitely be a great item to look back years from now.

You can purchase the book on, at your local book store and even in your child's school's scholastic order! This book will make the perfect holiday gift!

101 Movies Scholastic
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