Homemade Ramen Noodle Success

While living in Austin, TX, I discovered the wonders of Ramen… the soul food of Japan. And the restaurant responsible for my ramen noodle re-education—Ramen Tatsu-ya.

The ramen noodle bowls served at Ramen Tatsu-ya are not to be confused with the ramen noodle packs of college survival years, complete with those sodium-loaded flavor packets.

Ramen Tatsu-ya noodles are tender, served in a rich, flavorful broth, and include several add-ins (marinated soft-boiled eggs, flash-fried Brussels sprouts, woodear mushrooms, soy braised pork belly, pickled ginger, etc.).

The line out the door, which goes relatively quickly, tells the tale of how awesome their ramen bowls are.

When I lived in Austin, they only had the North Austin restaurant (now they have one in South Austin on South Lamar). Since I lived in South Austin, I had to find ramen noodle bowls closer to home.

The Whole Foods on W. William Cannon fit the bill with their Ramen Station. Not quite the same as Ramen Tatsu-ya, but still delicious… and much closer.

Since moving to Knoxville, I haven’t found a restaurant that specializes in Ramen (though I’m looking forward to trying Anaba, a local Japanese restaurant that serves ramen noodle bowls).

I did, however, search online for homemade ramen noodle recipes, and found these:

Beef Ramen Noodle Bowl

Photo: Ali a la Mode

Chicken Ramen Noodle Bowl

Photo: Blue Apron








I made the beef noodle ramen recipe on the left (substituting chicken for the beef, and adding chopped cilantro), and it was amazing! My family loved it too.

For a vegetarian ramen noodle bowl, substituting vegetable broth for the beef and chicken broth and using portabella mushrooms, instead of beef or chicken, would work nicely.

Here’s a link to the recipe:  http://alialamode.blogspot.com/2014/11/beef-ramen-noodle-soup.html

If you decide to try it, let me know what you think!

Prince Tribute – Purple Rain

When I learned of the recent passing of music icon and creative genius, Prince, I was more devastated than I expected to be about the death of someone I’d never met.

Why did I feel this loss more profoundly than the recent passing of others I’ve admired?

I think the sudden and unexpected nature of his death contributed greatly to my shock at hearing the news.

If someone has a terminal illness (David Bowie), has struggled with substance abuse (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston), or is older (Maya Angelou), you may expect their passing… not so in this case.

Another reason for my deep mourning: realizing Prince’s music represents the soundtrack of my youth (and that a lot of the double entendre and innuendo went way over my head when I was younger!).

Prince represents uncompromising creativity and a steadfast refusal to be placed in any one artistic box.

Not only did Prince create music at a dizzying pace, he also brought others along for the ride—introducing us to a bevy of other artists and generously showcasing their talent.

As someone with music firmly sewn into the fabric of my soul, I have a deep appreciation for his extraordinary songwriting ability, his gifted mastery of the guitar (and ALL of the other instruments he played) and his transformative showmanship in live performances.

To me, Prince represents living out loud. I feel galvanized by his determination to push back against the expectations of others, and truly inspired by his dedication to artistic expression.

Also, I have a collection of instruments that I’m determined to teach myself to play, and I’m inspired and encouraged by Prince’s self-taught musicianship.

After hearing Purple Rain on repeat for the past few days, I was no longer content to just listen to the beautiful melodies… I wanted to teach myself to play it!

Having never picked up an electric guitar in my life, I knew I needed to start small and the Purple Rain outro seemed like a great starting point.

I’ll admit, I was quickly caught up in delusions of grandeur, as I envisioned myself learning Prince’s guitar solo as well.

All it took was watching a few Purple Rain Prince tributes on YouTube to realize that guitar solo was WAY out of my league! The phrase “walk before you run” comes to mind.

The skill level required to play that solo would take years, and I wanted to learn to play Purple Rain in hours, so I opted for a simpler goal.

Because I’m inpatient in my learning pursuits, I searched for easy beginner chords—nothing that required tricky finger placement or complicated barre chords.

After a day of practice, I’m proud to say I’ve learned to play Purple Rain well enough to feel good about my efforts! ☺

Singing along while playing would have stretched my capabilities to the max (and thrown off my rhythm), so I chose to play while humming the song instead.

Here’s my Purple Rain Prince tribute… imperfect, but inspired.

Enjoy your day!

My Natural Hair Journey

Natural HairI’ve always wanted to chronicle my natural hair journey from the start, complete with a well-edited YouTube video montage and beautiful background music.

Unfortunately, that would’ve taken more spare time than I ever seemed to have on hand, so I’ve opted to give a quick update instead (complete with pictures). :)

My motivation:

After the combination of chemical hair relaxers (which I used to straighten my hair), hair color treatments (to cover those grays) AND caramel-colored highlights (definitely pressed my luck with that decision), my hair became severely damaged and unhealthy.

I wanted once again, to have the healthy hair of my youth, before the chemical processes and subsequent hair damage.

So, I decided to “go natural” (chemical relaxer-free).

Another major reason for my decision: my daughter’s comment that she wanted her hair to be “straight like Mommy’s.”

Uh oh!

Could it be my daughter didn’t realize my hair’s natural state was NOT straight?! More importantly, her comment told me she was lacking a full appreciation of her naturally thick, long, curly-coils.

It also revealed how much my daughter looked to me for her hair goals and inspiration.

It wasn’t enough to tell her how beautiful her hair was, or point out the bevy of ways in which she could wear her hair.

I would have to show her what it looked like to embrace her natural hair.

Seeing me wear my hair naturally curly/coily or in twists; in a twist-out (a wavy style obtained after removing the twists); or wearing it straight (by blowing it dry and heat styling), would be the best way for me to show her, rather than just tell her.

The result:

The plan was a success! :)

I’ve been chemical relaxer-free since October 2011, and transitioned until my big chop (cutting off the remaining relaxed/damaged hair) in May 2012.

In order to speed up my hair growth and return to hair health, I chose to limit heat-styling (the application of direct heat to my hair with blow drying, flat-ironing, etc.), to the three occasions my hair stylists thermally straightened my hair to trim my ends (November 2012 and May 2013 by the fabulous LaTashia Mitchell of Something Natural Hair Salon in Austin, TX and in January 2016, by my equally fabulous Knoxville, TN stylist, Tawanna Russell of Divine Touch Salon).

I’m happy to say, my hair is healthier than it’s been in a very long while.

This natural hair journey has been quite the experience, and I’ve learned so much along the way. So has my daughter, for that matter!

The most significant lessons have been the importance of planning,  preparation and persistence… followed by learning to go with the flow!

Now, my daughter and I fully embrace the variety of textures and wide range of hairstyles we both can achieve!

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Sounds of the Season – We Three Kings by Earl Klugh and Stefan Dickerson

A Jazz NoelThis is one of my favorite Christmas songs of ALL time!

It’s the wonderfully mellow, smooth jazz version of We Three Kings by Earl Klugh and Stefan Dickerson.

I find it both relaxing and festive.  :)

When I’m ready to take a break from rushing around… I make myself a cup of tea, get comfortable and play this amazing song. I hope you enjoy it too.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!  Warmest regards,  Dayo Lanier

Embracing Change

IMG_3398Funny thing happened on the way to planning out my life and mapping its course… a God-directed change in plans occurred.

I was well on my way to getting our house, my email inbox and our family’s schedule, more organized (organization which included writing blog posts more consistently and finally cleaning out the garage… though, not necessarily in that order), when I found out that we were moving again for my husband’s job!

We were headed for a wonderful opportunity at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN.  Go Vols! :)

But before we could begin this new chapter in our lives, we had to go through the daunting task of relocating first—also known as, the painful part.

I’ve found the process of moving to be less painful when you can embrace change and learn to get comfortable with the unknown… I’ve also found that I’m not particularly great at either of those things.

On a cerebral level, I know that change is the only constant in life, but from a comfort standpoint, I like for things to stay where I put them.
Being uncomfortable makes me uncomfortable, and moving is discomfort to the tenth degree.

Nevertheless, I was well aware that I couldn’t just blink and find myself settled in our new city.   It was going to be a process and it was going to take a lot of work—work which required me to trust God’s direction and His wisdom.

If you’ve ever moved, you know that it’s quite the undertaking. In fact, I liken it to childbirth—a painful experience with an outcome so joyous, it allows you to forget the discomforts of the journey… until the next time.

And that’s what happened to me. I forgot about the discomforts.

I forgot about transforming our lived-in home into the model home version of itself. I forgot about trying to keep it looking that way at all times, despite having a dog that sheds enough to stuff a pillow. I also forgot about trying to get my teen and my tween to partner with me in keeping the house looking spotless (there was lots of grumbling and yelling involved in that endeavor).

In order to keep my sanity in check and my outlook positive during this time of transition, prayer was a must. Leaning on these Bible verses helped, as well:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverb 3:5 (NIV) – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.”

In the end, we were able to sell our old house and buy our dream home in record time. And while our move wasn’t seamless, it was worth it.

Our recent move:

1.) Reminded me that I can’t get so locked into my own plans, that I forget to make room for what God wants to do in my life.

2.) It revealed the peace that comes from trusting an uncertain future to an all-knowing God.

3.) And as I finish this blog post while looking out the window of my new home office/music room (pictured above), it showed me that when I loosen my grip on what I think is best for me, my hands are open to receive the blessings that God has in store.

Enjoy the rest of your week!