Alyssa J Freitas

March 20, 2019

What I've Been Reading Lately

I made a change recently on my blog and social media bios. It's small, it's nearly unnoticeable. I made the change from describing myself as a "technology lover" to a "book lover." Because my job is technology based (and because I do have a genuine interest and appreciation for technology), I had always included this as part of a key descriptor of myself. However, I've realized that my love of books is a far greater hallmark of what makes me me, and decided that I would update my bios and write an accompanying post.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I've been reading so far in 2019
Today I wanted to share the books I've read so far this year, and I would love any suggestions from you! The comments section on the blog has been super quiet for quite some time and I'm hoping that for my readers who love reading (I know you're out there!), this question will compel you to leave a comment. Anyway, on to the books of 2019.

The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

You know how much I love the sweeping, historical sagas of Edward Rutherfurd. Joe really won my heart when he got me Edward Rutherfurd books to feed my obsession on our first Christmas together. This book is the second in a series about Ireland. It's long. It's captivating. And I wish Rutherfurd could churn out even more of these gems than are already published. I still have to read Sarum, The Forest, and I can hardly wait for China to come out in November of this year!!!

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

As part of my "read the classics" kick, I picked up Lord of the Flies, while knowing absolutely zero about the story. I was drawn in to each character for different reasons and really do love books that require you to think in different dialects/character voices. Putting yourself in the mindset of young boys is not easy, but once I got into the swing of it, I was relating with nearly everyone.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I chose this book next as a quick, lighter read, again not knowing the story going into it. I was able to breeze through it and it definitely kept me guessing. Thinking about it now, I may try to find out if I can watch the television series, because I'm sure it's exciting.

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict

I had high hopes for this story and was disappointed. What I was thinking would be a historical novel that would give me insight into the life of Dale Carnegie and those close to him, it ended up being a romance novel with "stolen moments" and social barriers that got old real quick. Would not recommend.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett 

This is a book that does going back and forth in time right. The concept of the story (a family being impacted by a fiction book being published based on their lives) was unique enough to get me interested and the solid dialogue and variety of characters kept me engrossed.

I'm currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is next up for me. What books have you read lately? Let's be friends on Goodreads!

Check out other posts about reading, including Upping Your Reading Game, What I've Been Reading Lately, and How To Read More This Year.

March 13, 2019

Concert Etiquette

I'm super excited because Joe and I got tickets for an all day concert this summer where the Lumineer's will be performing! I'm really looking forward to it and when Casey suggested I do a post on concert etiquette it was just the thing to get even more in the mood.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! If you're headed off to a concert, make sure you take a look at these lists of dos and don'ts for concert etiquette
When I first started doing my research I was surprised to find that there is actually a Wikipedia page dedicated to the topic of concert etiquette. They divide out the guidelines based on music type, but for this post I'm going to give general tips, and sprinkle in a few genre specific ones as we go along.

Concert dos

Do arrive early so you can pick a preferred seat/standing area if it's general admission, or so you can make your way to your seat without disturbing others once the concert has begun. And if you arrive after the concert has begun and the audience is seated, wait until a break in the music to take your seat. 

Do take your cues from the crowd in terms of singing along. When everyone is jumping and singing along, join in, but don't belt your heart out if it's going to prevent others from actually hearing and enjoying the artist.

Do take your cues on applause from the crowd too. If you're at a classical music concert it can sometimes be tricky to tell when it's the end of a piece, so let the audience around you lead the way with applause. 

Do help people up if you're in a mosh situation to help avoid injury, and hold lost items high above your head so they can be reclaimed by the owner who is most likely around you.

Do be aware of personal space if you are at a standing concert, but not in a mosh pit situation. No one wants to be bumped and stepped on during a show, so temper your movements and be respectful. This is also very important if people are holding drinks.

Concert donts

Don't push and block others when you're in a general admission situation. Or at least make reasonable adjustments to help those around you enjoy the concert (this advice is, admittedly coming from a short girl). 

Don't film the entire concert and post it to social media. One, no one is watching it without clicking through quickly. Two, you're never going to watch it again. Three, it detracts from your own experience, living in the moment. Four, it can block others' views, which is a big no.

Don't cough if you are at a classical music concert, if you can help it. Come prepared with cough drops (not in noisy wrappers - open a few ahead of time).

Don't push your way to the front of the crowd, especially in a group. You didn't get there early, so the front is not your right.

Going to a concert can be a great experience, made fantastic when those around you all act with courtesy. Remember, etiquette is all about putting those around you at ease.

What would you add to these lists?


March 6, 2019

February 2019 Monthly Recap

This short month was action packed! Last month I had a few categories that I grouped photos into, but this month I'm going to go in chronological order and see how we like that. Good? Good.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! In February I basically lived in California. Check out the adventures in this blog post!

Birthday Dinner

On February 1st I went out with my girlfriends to celebrate my birthday. We went to the Hourglass Tavern and had a scrumptious meal and awesome conversation. I love when I can bring together friends who don't know one another and have a great time. 


This was one of the most highly anticipated days of February. I had been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack non-stop (if you know, you know), and finally splurged and got myself a ticket. The show was amazing and the excitement was off the charts. I will say that because I listened to it so much, I went in with expectations of how it would sound and be performed and I was slightly disappointed when it didn't match the image in my head. Regardless, I would make the investment to go again and am always happy when I get to see live performances, especially one of this caliber.

California: A Saga

I was in California for the majority of February. I headed out to the annual IBM Think conference and did not come back until a few days ago. First I did some sightseeing with Sheetal in San Francisco when I first arrived. Naturally, ice cream was included.

This is the only picture I got from Think and I realized after the fact that I should have stood closer to the camera. I loved getting to spend time with my manager in person and with my clients. 
On my last day in San Francisco, after the conference ended, I went to Alcatraz because I didn't get to go when Ally and I did our California trip in senior year. It was interesting to learn about the history of the island and I did a night tour that allowed me to see the bay at sunset. 
The next day I flew to LA and went to the Getty Center. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that so many museums in California are free. 
Then...Lady arrived! We were so excited to spend the night in the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills (thank you, special offer from Hilton), and we started the trip out on a high note. We checked out the LACMA, Spadena House, Rodeo Drive, LA Farmer's Market, La Brea Tar Pits, The Chinese Theater, The Hollywood Sign, The Griffith Observatory, and more! We really do pack a lot into our vacation days.

Then we were off to the most highly anticipated part of the trip: Disneyland! We went to both parks, and spent three days enjoying the best snacks, rides, and shows. Our matching red coats made for great pictures :)
Hoping that Peter can help me never grow up...

We headed back to LA and got to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad museum, the Last Bookstore, the Getty Villa, the Palm for Mama's birthday, and, of course, ate more ice cream. 
I'm not a big fan of the modern art...

This month was an absolute blast! Hopefully I'll get to sleep in my own bed a bit more in March, but we'll see where the month takes us. 

What were you up to in February?


Monthly recaps can be found here

February 27, 2019

Back In Time: Fortune Cookie

Happy belated Chinese New Year! I'm currently in California and there are tons of decorations and celebrations going on for the Lunar New Year. While you'll soon learn that the fortune cookie didn't originate in China (shouldn't be too surprising since things are very rarely what they first appear in this back in time series)...I wanted to give a nod to the holiday and my recent craving for Chinese food while I stayed in Chinatown in San Francisco.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Learn all about the surprising origin of the fortune cookie

As I mentioned before, the fortune cookie did not originate in China, but was created in California. However, there's debate about if it's even a Chinese American invention. Let's take a look at a few stories...

Japanese Origin

There are two claimants of Japanese decent - Makoto Hagiwara and Suyeichi Okamura. Hagiwara was a gardener and the designer of the famous Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, he was fired by a mayor who was no fan of the Japanese, but was reinstated by a proceeding mayor. As the story goes, he created what we would recognize as the fortune cookie with thank you notes inside to show his gratitude.

But who is this Okamura fellow, you might ask? He was the founder of a Japanese confectionary in San Francisco and allegedly was Hagiwara's cookie supplier. There are hand skillet molds that were used to create fortune cookies for Hagiwara with his initials and a descendent of Okamura has donated them to the Smithsonian. Okamura's grandson wrote a compelling case that you can see here.

It's possible that Hagiwara designed the cookie and Okamura produced it...but what about these other claimants I mentioned? Let's hear what the Chinese have to say.

Chinese Origin

Meet David Jung from Los Angeles. It is said that he was the creator of the fortune cookie and did so out of the goodness of his heart. Instead of including thank you notes in the cookie, Jung inserted bible verses and passed the cookies out to the poor on the streets. 

Figuring out the "truth"

The Japanese claim that with the outbreak of WWII, the Japanese businesses of California were disrupted and it gave the Chinese the opening to produce and sell the cookie to Chinese restaurants. This sort of thievery could not stand (even years later) and in 1983 a mock trial was held to determine the origination. 

Unsurprisingly, the trial was held in San Francisco and the court ruled in favor of San Francisco. The judge's mind may have been swayed by popular opinion in the area, or the veiled threat he received in a fortune cookie that said "S.F. judge that rules for L.A. not very smart cookie."

A founding father, because there's always one

While no founding fathers are directly involved with the origination and contention around the fortune cookie, I was able to find a connection as I am apt to do. Early fortune cookies did not just have a prediction for you and some lucky numbers and Chinese vocabulary. There were bible verses, like in Jung's story, but there were also quotes from the likes of Confucius and Aesop, and, of course, Ben Franklin!

What do you think? Did the Chinese (LA) of Japanese (SF) create this Chinese dining staple?


February 20, 2019

Out Of Office...In California!

This month I'm spending 3 weeks in California and I am right in the middle of my trip! After a week in San Francisco for work, now in the midst of a week traveling in LA and going to Disneyland, and another week coming up in Costa Mesa for work, it's been a bit challenging to keep up with blogging.

This week I was meant to write a back in time post, which takes the most research and effort to put together. So as you can imagine, I haven't found the time to put together a back in time post that is fully comprehensive and interesting (and somehow relates to a founding father, as they all must). I'll push it out to either next week or the week after and hope you can survive the wait ;)

In lieu of that, please enjoy these stock photos of LA and Disneyland and look forward to my monthly recap coming up soon as well!