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  • Melissa Orquiza

Ube, Pandan, & Mango Pancakes, Do Dogs Smile, Laughter, & Couples Who Laugh Together Stay Together

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Ube, Pandan, & Mango Pancakes. Because how better to demarcate the weekend than, PANCAKES?

Giggles & maple syrup. My daughter and her dad.

My first love (besides the piano) was my dog I adopted from the Burbank Animal Shelter, while I was single. Hailey, a tri-colored Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix, was smart, inherently mistrustful, food obsessed (they found her rummaging through a dumpster in a Ralph’s parking lot), and really, really, quiet (perfect for a musician). I didn’t grow up with a dog but knew I always wanted one. I thought all my love and care, could at least set me upon a path to responsible dog ownership. (I could learn along the way... like practicing for eventual motherhood!)

It was a steep learning curve, not to mention her panicked howling when I left her at my apartment for the first time I had to go to work. (“What did I get myself into?”). I think she truly thought I wasn’t going to come back. I should have known she had abandonment issues so for a few months, I was cautiously optimistic, patiently waiting for her to open up. She still only trusted a few people during her days and her honest antics were always awkward to socially gloss over.

Eventually, she’d “smile” and laugh at me. She was a faithful companion, a steady comfort, while navigating my hilarious (totally serious and quiet at work and crazy, fun outside of work) twenties. She’d scowl at people she didn’t like, had no qualms showing her distaste, or happily laugh when she saw someone she adored. I taught her how to “conduct” (she’d move her paw up and down in the air a few times). When I would practice the cello, she’d leave the room when I was out of tune and sit by my piano pedals (for hours...) while I practiced Chopin, trying to understand my thoughts and my life. She was a godsend.

Hailey hated flies. She was usually smiling or looked kind of bored. Whenever a fly would be buzzing around her face, her eyes would brood with intensity, then she’d just stare, look annoyed, then just eat it. CHOMP! … then start laughing again. No more annoying nuisance.

Between all of life’s responsibilities, I was unable to watch the VP 2020 debate. Excited to see what transpired, my late night news feed was flooded with: "the fly." With all the problems in the world right now, I am grateful and amazed at humanity’s ability to come together and laugh at the absurd. My brother put it eloquently. “ Dude, it’s the monocultural event we all need as a nation!” (Wait. Did he mean “the fly” or the “Bachelorette?” It was on the same thread….)

Why do we laugh? I had some ideas, but all were personal inferences, not based on statistics and research. Well, I’m grateful to say that my instincts were right all along. It helps us bond, makes us feel better (especially when we laugh together), and helps lighten the load in our brains, to help us find better solutions. I wish we could just eat things that annoy us, like Hailey did, but at least we can all laugh. (Thank you, “Youtube.” It confirms humanity is a verifiable circus.)

Especially during these fraught and humorously bewildering times, I hope these articles make you laugh, think, and smile. Thanks for reading (and eating)! Cheers! Xo Melissa

Do Dogs Smile? I’d like to think they do. Hailey, my Aussie fur baby in heaven, laughed A LOT during our time together. She had a knack for sniffing out a kind heart (and seemed to sense horrible people faster than I did.) I still like to hold on to some naivety and optimism, since we're human and screw up. Here’s to your fur babies!

Do Dogs Smile?

Check out this article on how couples who laugh at each other are “stronger” and more likely to “stick together.” (Basically, yeah, you can laugh at each other but don't be mean!) I think laughter (he only developed a sense of humor recently), music, and food are the glue that has kept my husband and I together. (I guess it was just music and food before.) We both laugh and play fight (well, I do) about how we are COMPLETE opposites. Our friends and family could not/still comprehend what happened. (It’s like a black hole and a white hole that hopefully don’t collide or else you’ll end up with two black holes. Wait… who would be the first black hole?)

He likes to say, “If it works, it works. Why question it?” (Hmmm... But I still have to figure it out...)

Here’s a video on “Why We Laugh.” I love how she carefully explains the science behind social bonding and why unexpected comedy endears us to each other. Love that! (My daughter has figured that out... big time.) My favorite part is the mirroring you’ll inevitably do when seeing others laughing and smiling.

Check out the clip at 12:56 about laughter, romantic and close relationships, and how quickly things can change a person’s mood when something goes wrong (demonstrated by some young men from former East Germany, making a video to promote their metal band).

Why We Laugh - Sophie Scott

Here’s Neil Sedaka’s “Laughter in the Rain.” I love watching 70’s videos because let’s face it… those outfits are killer.

Neil Sedaka - Laughter in the Rain (1974)

This is the first time I’ve seen this video in it’s entirety (we didn’t have MTV). How can you not smile hearing this music with grown men in colorful spandex jumping?

Van Halen - Jump

Because inevitably, in all relationships, misunderstandings happen. Here’s to laughter and its remarkable ability to make love, in all its good, painful, and crazy forms, endure… ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.

Marshmello & Halsey - Be Kind (Official Video)

"Smile" is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie "Modern Times". While Chaplin composed the music, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. "Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film. Love, laughter, smiles, and beauty- the stars I look for each day. I hope you find yours amongst the chaos.

Nat King Cole - “Smile”

Ube, Pandan, & Mango Pancakes

Pancakes with an easy twist so you don't get complacent and boring. Oohh... exotic.

adapted from “Perfect Pancakes”

By Kate McMillan, From “The Breakfast Bible” 100+ Favorite Recipes to Start the Day


1 1/2 cups (190g) all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

2 cups (480 ml) buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla (I added this. I like adding vanilla to pancake and French toast batter, amongst other things...)

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted plus more for cooking

Mango flavoring or extract

Pandan flavoring or extract

Ube flavoring or extract

(Hint: The mango extract is really potent. I'd try not to use too much or it'll smell like a Victoria's Secret lotion. I'd try not to get the purple ube flavoring or green pandan flavoring excessively on your fingers. You'll inadvertently look like Prince in a Pollack.)


1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. (The batter will still be slightly lumpy).

3. (Favorite part! So relaxing seeing the colors swirl and change while stirring.) Divide mixture into 4 bowls. Bowl 1 will be untouched (normal pancakes). Bowl 2 will be Mango Pancakes. Add enough Mango Flavoring until you get the color you want. (It’s really potent and I don’t add much. Under 3 sec worth). Bowl 3 will be Pandan Pancakes. Add Pandan flavoring and mix until it’s a darker shade of pistachio. (Yum!) Bowl 4 will be Ube Pancakes. Add Ube flavoring until it’s a dark purple.

4. Heat a griddle or a large frying pan over medium heat. Coat generously with melted butter and then ladle about 1/3 cup (80 ml) batter onto the griddle for each pancake.

5. Cook until the edges are golden and bubbles form on the surface, then flip the pancakes and continue cooking until cooked through, about 3 minutes total. Keep warm while you cooke the remaining pancakes. Serve hot.

Hint: I like my food pretty and composed (like my life) so I added mascarpone cream with a bash of coconut sugar and berries on top. Maple sugar tasted good but the light color didn’t hold up when it hit the mascarpone. Brown sugar is good, but wanted something… um intriguingly different, (can you tell I get bored?) and Demerara was super fancy and too uppity for this. Plus, how can you not have these flavors without a nod to coconut?

Cheers! Happy experimenting! Have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for reading! Xo, Melissa

#ubepandanmangopancakes, #dodogssmile, #laughter,#coupleswholaughtogether, #whywelaugh, #laughterintherain, @neilsedaka,@vanhalen, @marshmello&halsey, #smile, @natkingcole, @charliechaplin

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