Don’t give in to weakness

a card that says "When the mind doesn't give in to weakness, a well-trained body follows"

“When I was 17 I graduated high school and like most teens, you don’t know what to do when you graduate high school. I decided to join the Military. I went through basic training and it was the first time I was far away from my family. It was a new experience. There are some people who can’t handle being away from their families so they break down mentally. There was one guy in my platoon who was like that. He had enough of the physical and emotional pain so he had tried to commit suicide. The drill sergeants made an example of him yelling at him and told everyone not to be like him. The very next morning we went on a 12 mile run and the drill sergeant kept using the guy who had quit as an example saying things like “don’t quit guys, don’t be like him” and somewhere in between he says to everyone “Remember guys, when the mind doesn’t give into weakness, a well-trained body follows”. It took me a while to understand the meaning behind that quote because I was too busy concentrating on other things but the quote keeps coming up in my mind when I feel exhausted with work and school.”

Name: A. S. Jara
Age: 24
Major: Math Education

Never Forget

“Names etched on the head of a pin, one name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel. A blue name needled into the skin. Names of citizens, workers, mothers, and fathers, the bright-eyed daughter, the quick son. Alphabet of names in a green field. Names in the small tracks of birds. Names lifted from a hat Or balanced on
the tip of the tongue. Names wheeled into the dim warehouse
of memory. So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.” -Bill Collins

September 11th, 2001 do you remember where you were on this tragic day? I was back in my home country. I had just came out from school and turned on the television as I got in( a natural habit) when I saw the attack on the news. I stood there in disbelieve wondering if I was dreaming. Still in disbelieve, I managed to call my mom to inform her of what has happened. It wasn’t until the next day we were able to contact friends and family to make sure they were alright. Thankfully they were. To this day I am still baffled by what happened 14 years ago. However I believe this has only made the people stronger, united and more appreciated of life. Never forget……

To mark 9/11 anniversary, every year a Tribute in Light is been lit near the site of the World Trade Center. 88 searchlights, 44 for each tower. These lights can be seen from over 60 miles away. Seeing and photographing these lights was sad but such an amazing experience.


a city building at night with a beam of blue light coming out of the top  “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”  South Cove Park Manhattan, NY 8:30pm


lit city buildings at night “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honour those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unit that followed 9/11.”  Battery Pl Manhattan, NY 9:00pm

-President Obama


a hand reaching toward rays of blue light “Nothing you gibe is lost to you or anyone, but cherished and preserved in Heaven.”  Battery Park Garage Manhattan, NY 10:51pm


a hand holding a smartphone “Some gave a lot, others gave it all.”  Battery Park Garage Manhattan, NY 11:15pm


beams of blue light “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: One is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”  Battery Park Garage Manhattan, NY 11:37pm

-Booker T. Washington


beams of blue light“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”  Battery Park Garage Manhattan, NY 11:41pm

-David Levithan

Food Styling: The Perspective of Food

an omelet paired with eggs benedict

Image by: Brianna Vasquez


I strongly believe that despite how good food can taste, it must first look presentable. The famous saying which states how your eyes eat before your mouth does explain my theory.  As all of us post onto OpenLab or other sites, we all post photographs to truly evoke and support our article efficiently.

Food styling is all about the science of displaying food properly to evoke a sense of persuading each viewer to want to eat and enjoy the meal being presented. In food styling, presentation is key; it revolves around what the viewer’s ideal interests in that particular dish are and how to captivate them in a single photograph to entice them. Mostly, food styling is used as a means of advertisement to coax those to purchase their products but it can be used to show the outcome of a recipe or to display an edible, artistic masterpiece.

Food styling may sound easy to achieve to eventually lead to some beautiful food themed photographs but there is so much more calculation that is articulated before ever hitting that button to take the first picture. Each photograph must be taken from the right angle with the best lighting to show the best qualities of that particular dish. It is most important to think of what you and viewers must be captivated by such as the color or shape that needs to be captured in the photograph. Also, food styling does not always have to show entirely edible food sometimes inedible products are used to exaggerate certain qualities. For example: it is extremely common for a photograph of a cake slice to be publicized from a particular brand but the cake can be deconstructed by each layer then separated by each layer by a cardboard piece and then frosting will be piped onto the cardboard to show that the frosting is literally oozing out of the cake to present how truly great the cake is and constructed although that may not be honest and you might not get what is promised.

As I aspire to be a pastry chef, I thoroughly enjoy capturing each creation that I have had the chance to make whether through my classes or for leisure. I love seeing how the dessert I have made can bring a smile to someone’s face and getting photographs of my desserts makes that moment cherishable for virtually forever.

I have taken some photographs myself that have some filters to feature the food presentation better by way of blurring the background, black & white, or color enhancements but sometimes, it is simply the dish itself that evokes its own beauty by the way it was prepared.

The following photographs were all taken by me and I only used a few additions of filters to present the main objective in my photographs in a better way. In the first photo, I reversed it to create an awkward look but to show off each drink in a different way.

a row of different flavored milks with varying colors

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

This photograph shows that the sautéed vegetables are the star of the show by being the liveliest part of the picture colored with each of its vibrant variety of colors while the background is in black & white.

decorative plate of sauteed vegetables

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

This photograph is shown by having the main objective of the iHop mug remain in black & white while the creamer which is small component to the entire photograph is in color to capture the viewer.

black and white photo of a coffee cup

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

This photograph below was actually just brighten up with some lighting but it is the original photograph yet it evokes the shininess of the raspberries and the richness of the pastry cream that lay upon the cream puff which was made in my Baking and Pastry Arts I class. It didn’t need a lot of revisions to show off each component’s best qualities.

cream puff with vanilla pastry cream and raspberries

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Student Debt On A Rise

graduation hats that say "DEBT: $547K"; "DEBT: $431K

Gone are the days of H.S, middle school, and elementary school, when we didn’t have to worry about the cost of tuition, books, and the various other things our professors ask for.

This all brings me to my latest research, that shows that student loan debt is at an all time high with $1.27 trillion. This is more than the debts for both auto and credit cards.

The class of 2015 graduated with the largest amount of student loan debt ever, with an estimated average of $35,051 per person.

45% of Americans with student loans, and 56% of those between 18 and 29, have put off a major life event because of the burden of debt, survey findings have shown.

Something needs to be done! Yes you want students graduating, but not at this cost. There needs to be more assistance for us college students!

When It Gets Dark In NYC

New York City sky may not get illuminated by stars during night time but the city is still astonishing when it gets dark.

When the the sun is no longer the brightest light in the city, NYC’s skyline takes over and creates this dazzling display of light.The light from the city’s skyline is always a breathtaking sight that     never cease to amaze New Yorkers. People from all over the world come specifically to New York Cit to witness this magical moment. There is no New York without it’s wonderful skyline that brighten the city with beautiful colors and that gives its unique identity.


a city skyline at duskEast River – Brooklyn


a city skyline at duskGantry Park Plaza – Queens


city buildings at nightJay Street – Brooklyn




Summer is FALLing into its Place

a young woman with the words "Straight Outta Summer"

Model Amoni B, Photographer: Heaven Sent Photography, Overlay:

 Welcome back students, faculty, staff and visitors. My name is Amoni B and its an honor to be blogging with City Tech for another semester. I hope all of my readers are enjoying their summer, whether you were traveling, learning in school, giving back to your community, splashing in water themed parks, visiting galas and museums, enjoying sport events like the US Open, dancing at the Labor Day parade, and even working. I must also shine light on the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement. Although the years of damnation and recent events in the US and Dominican Republic aren’t much to smile about, I am happy that there is more awareness and even more self-embracing being spread.

Gallery above : Images of how me and my readers spent their Summer. 1. Stacey Brown celebrated her award with a meal 2. Lawrence Brown Paint-balled 3. Leona Brown-Straus is loved 4. Sam James worked construction 5. Leslie Brown posed in New Orleans on vacation 6. Steph Dashian attended a wedding 7. Genesis & Derek stayed cool 8. Amoni B takes flight 9. Stacey Brown went to the pool 10. Omari plays in the pool 11. Robin Pugh and Derek in the yard 12. The grill

Today I am spreading love. I love you all and hope you will enjoy my post to come. You can check out my past post here: Amoni B on The Buzz. In the future I will be covering events from fashion to being social responsible. I will also show some awesome DIY done in the past and future, because what’s better than being self-sufficient and awesome. And my readers can feel even more awesome when they give  back.

an illustration of a black hand and a white hand forming a heart shape

Heart Hands by TakeEverythingBack

Amoni, What is giving back?

Well, giving back is like paying it forward, a term used when one person helps another so that in return they help 3 others. Ways to pay it forward include helping others, donating your time, and building your neighborhood whither physically or by giving knowledge.  It helps your social growth, helps to spend your time wisely, and it makes you feel all warm inside. During the summer I traveled and participated and promotions and events. I also gave back by donating my time, donating my material and technology, helping people with their ideas and business forming, and participating in non-profit organizations, like Habitat for Humanity. On my downtime, and  if someone hasn’t already came to seek my help, I look for open opportunities to volunteer. Such opportunities can be found on,, at your local schools and community center, or by looking up your favorite organizations. Hopefully this upcoming fall you can find time to spread the love as well.

Disclaimer: All information is solely my opinion and I am not being paid to promote organizations and companies mentioned in this post.

QUESTIONS FOR THE READERS: How did you spend your summer? | Do you volunteer? | What are some ways you give back/pay it forward? | What topics would you like to see me discuss? | What events would you like me to cover?


The 10 Best Things I’ve Ate This Summer

Welcome back to Fall 2015 all faculty and city tech students! It feels good and exciting to be back at City Tech as this will be my last year at City Tech and of college. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

Anyway, hope your summer was blast and you had a chance to eat a lot of yummy foods! I know I did. I had a list of places I wanted to try this summer and I was able to accomplish most of it as well as get to try foods I never tried before. I’d like to share with you the 10 best things I ever ate this summer –

a pink drink1. Strawberry Refresher from Starbucks

I love almost all foods and drinks that are strawberry related, so when I heard Starbucks came out with a Strawberry Acai Refresher – I was ecstatic. I gave it a shot and fell head over heels with it. There’s a slight tartness to it, but you can definitely taste the strawberry-ness in it and it’s absolutely refreshing. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot.

a pot of mussels

2. Bisque Mussels from Mussels & More

During the summer, I ate at Mussels and More with my friends and boyfriend twice because it was just that good! One of the items we tried was the Bisque mussels (lobster, brandy, garlic, tomato, and cream) and it was truly the best mussels I’ve had so far. It was rich and savory. The mussels were cooked just right!

linguine with clams, and Parmesan on the side

3. Linguine with White Clam Sauce from Mussels & More

Another item I’ve tried at Mussels & More is Linguine with white clam sauce in many restaurants, but none as good and savory as the one from Mussels & More. You can just taste the love and effort that was put into this dish.

a lobster on a plate4. Steamed lobster from Larchmont Yacht Club 

Over the summer, I attended my boyfriend’s company picnic at Larchmont and that’s where I had one of the best lobsters of my life! They were serving steamed lobsters with butter and I had two lobsters to myself and they were absolutely tender, moist, and with a little sweetness as well. So simple, yet so delicious!

a dish of food

5. Rice Cakes with Shredded Pork & Preserved Mustard from Nan Xiang Dumpling House

This is one of my favorite dishes that I love to order at most Shanghainese restaurants! Last month, my boyfriend and I had dinner at a Shanghainese restaurant in Flushing and that’s where I’ve had one of the best rice cakes with shredded pork and preserved mustard. The rice cakes weren’t soggy and cooked just right and the preserved mustard, weren’t preserved this time, in fact it was fresh and crunchy.

a sandwich wrap6. Roast Pork Taco from Tacos El Bronco

My friend introduced me to Tacos El Bronco and I tried the roast pork taco. It was hands down the best taco I’ve had so far. It was warm, vibrant, and delicious! The guacamole had a nice and rich creaminess to it and the taco wasn’t spicy at all. The roast pork was really tender and moist. Everything was on point!

an ice cream cone7. Cookies n Creme Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my weaknesses, but I forgot how much happiness an ice cream on a cone can bring to me. My manager treated my company to ice cream and Italian ices one afternoon and I got myself a cookies n creme ice cream and boy was I happy.


8. Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Crab Bisque from Hooked

I normally don’t order soups at restaurants, but I decided to order the roasted corn & jalapeno crab bisque from Hooked as many of my friends did to while we were in Ocean City, MD for Labor Day weekend. The bisque was surprisingly not spicy at all, despite jalapeno being in the name of the bisque. I really enjoyed the bisque. It was hearty, warm, creamy, and irresistibly delicious!

an ice cream sundae9. Affugazi Affogato from Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain 

I always wanted to go to Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain and I did go this summer not just once, but twice! The first time I went with my friends, I ordered the Affugazi Affogato which was absolutely delightful. It was like chocolate and espresso heaven! I really enjoyed the large scoop of vanilla ice cream encased in the hardened chocolate shell. The chocolate shell was difficult and almost impossible to break through. The two shots of espresso was good and powerful stuff!

a glass of a white drink with ice

10. Horchata from Las Margaritas

I’ve always been curious about horchata, so I gave it a shot at Las Margaritas when I was out with friends one night. Every Spanish/Mexican restaurant has their own way of making horchata I am sure, but the one from Las Margaritas was very refreshing and perfect for a summery day. The horchata I had a bit of cinnamon or maybe nutmeg in it and it was a nice touch to it.

I really enjoyed this summer and give myself a lot of credit for trying a lot of new foods, drinks, and restaurants. It’s been an exciting experience!

New York’s Nature Side


The beauty of nature is that it surrounds us all. Whether it is the variety of clouds, sunset or sunrise or even a waterfall. When you think of New York the first thing that comes to mind is its nickname “The Big Apple”, “Concrete Jungle”, “Gotham.” But have you ever thought of New York as the nature type environment? This city is more than just the skyscrapers and bridges. Discovering the nature side of New York is almost unbelievable, sometimes I often have to pinch myself to be sure that I am in the right place.

“We never noticed the beauty because we are too busy trying to create it.”

trees in a field“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Central Park, Manhattan NY 6:34am

trees by the water“What we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capacity. Its more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”  Central Park, Manhattan NY 7:17am


a white building on a pond“Nature is one of our greatest teacher.”  Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY 5:30pm


a mossy stream“The things that we love tells us what we are.”  Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY 5:44pm


a mossy pond“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.”  Prospect park, Brooklyn NY 7:31pm


Preparing To Graduate?

a stock image of graduation hats with tassels being tossed into the air

This December, if everything goes as planned, I will be graduating from College. While its an exciting thought, it’s also a nerve-racking one, as I begin a whole new chapter in my life.

So it got me thinking about my fellow future graduates, and what they must be thinking and feeling as well. Gathering information from all around, I’ve come up with some tips to help us through our journey.

1. What do you want after you graduate? A Job!!! Complete or update your resume/cover letter to prepare for your job search. It’s also important to buy an interview outfit. And an interview outfit doesn’t include jeans. You have to dress professionally, even if the job you are applying for is a relaxed one, since you want to make a good first impression. Practice your interviewing techniques with the types of questions you may be asked at an interview.

2. Have you taken out a loan? Make sure you know how much you owe, and the different options for repayment that are available. Most student loans begin repayment six months after graduation. You want to be prepared to begin making payments when they are due.

3. Study, study, study! Just because you are about to graduate, that doesn’t mean you start to get lazy and slack off. The goal is to graduate, and one misstep can keep you from achieving your goal.

4. Continue to save! You no longer will have to spend money on those expensive books, and other school expenses, so start saving your money now. It’ll come in handy in the long run, trust me.

Just a few things to pay attention to as you prepare to be handed your diploma. Good luck!!

Summer Throwback

Welcome back to all the OpenLab community. It has been my pleasure to blog and share my photographs on The Buzz last semester and I’m excited and eager to share more with all of you this semester.

This summer was pretty exciting, I went to many places and did many things within city limits and beyond. Various times, I took on adventurous journeys in New York City to discover, explore and photograph many of its beautiful sights . Furthermore beyond New York City, I engaged in adventurous journeys to see the breathtaking sights of other places in the world. Thus the Caribbean Islands of Haiti was the ideal location for me to see splendid turquoise blue clear water beaches and beautiful landscape. Overall it was great summer and here I have gathered photographs of some of my best journeys.

a bridge in the distanceQueensboro Bridge – Queens


a city bridge as seen through the cables of another bridgeBrooklyn Bridge – Brooklyn


a sunset over the waterBrooklyn Bridge – Brooklyn


the oceanPort-au-Prince – Haiti


turquoise water at a cliff Dame Marie – Haiti