The inspirational journal of rising NYC jewelry designer, entrepreneur, violinist, and pastry chef, Yumi Chen.

NYC Jewelry Designer, Violinist, Pastry Chef, Small Business Owner, Free-Spirit, Positive Thinker!

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Archive for January, 2009

What if…?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


Do you ever wonder what plants and animals would say if they could speak? In defense of my own sanity, I am clearly not the first person to entertain this thought since there have been countless stories and movies made hypothesizing this very idea! The reason this comes to my mind, though, is that I just bought a new orchid, and if any plant has ever seemed intellectual enough to speak, I think it would be the orchid. There is something about its elegance, its delicacy, its striking beauty that seems to imply it has a secret. It almost makes me think of that big plant in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors”, but somehow I don’t think the orchid would be evil if it started to speak. I do, however, think it would speak in an accent, or at the very least, have perfect beautiful tones and diction.

Just looking at orchids is inspiring and enlightening (why else would there be an entire convention dedicated to the species in Rockefeller Center in the Spring?). In these dreary days of the dead of winter, any flower is a reassuring sign of the Spring waiting just around the corner. But there is a peaceful grace about orchids that I find particularly soothing; I love the natural arcs in the branches and the simple, streamlined shape that has come to influence and symbolize so much of East Asian design.

It’s as if the orchid is whispering: Shhh… Be more simple…Be beautiful… Just Be.

It’s Never Too Late

Monday, January 26th, 2009


I was at the Guggenheim museum last week (one of those New York City treasures that I never seem to have the time to visit!) They have a wonderful Kandinsky exhibit that is completely beautiful and inspiring. Kandinsky is one of those artists who just likes to drown you in color; his pieces crash over your senses like a wave (they kind of knock you down and maybe make you a little frustrated, but you find them thrilling at the same time and want to keep playing with them, yah know??)

I didn’t know much about Kandinsky, as a person, but I did know that he was one of the first modern painters to create abstract works of art. But get this: he didn’t even start painting, for real, until he was 30 years old! After studying law and economics in Russia, he gave up his job as a professor and went to art school, where he was one of the oldest students (and no doubt, one of the best as well!)

You know how you hear about all these child prodigies (Mozart and Picasso, I mean even Shirley Temple when you get right down to it!) and it can make you feel a little behind somehow? That’s kind of why I love Kandinsky and find him so inspiring. There was no such thing as ‘too late’ in his mind. A lot of his peers probably thought that he was crazy to leave his Professorship for art school, but that didn’t stop him. He followed his passion, and what came of it were incredibly gifted works of art, which will be studied and praised for generations and generations to come.

Manju Magic

Friday, January 23rd, 2009


My grandparents, Baba and Giji spoiled me with Japanese sweets. Baba especially would bring me the most gorgeously wrapped boxes containing edible works of art called manju. Manju is a yam or flour based pastry dough that is steamed and filled with azuki bean paste. It doesn’t sound too yummy, compared with the creamy, chocolatey and fruity pastries that we have here in the West, but I love it!

I did a little research on azuki beans and am happy to report that eating manju will change your life! Apparently, azuki promotes bowel movements and strengthens kidneys. Did you know that, “kidneys govern the emotion of fear, the azuki bean is considered a source of courage that helps people meet challenges bravely!” (1) It’s also known as the weight lose bean! Wow! What a powerful bean!

It’s no wonder that my family encouraged me to eat Japanese sweets! Baba and Giji were wise :)

1. footnote link