Tuesday Photo Challenge: The Campaign

This photo goes back to 2005 when my family and I went to Paris one summer. We were on a bus and we saw all these rollerbladers. It appeared to be an impromptu parade by the Parisians. There were also runners, people dancing on parade floats, and music — though I do not have any pictures of that. Anyways this parade was a campaign bid for Paris to participate in a future summer Olympics. It was lively to watch.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Action

Five things Friday: Greetings from Vallée de la Loire

Five Things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

Learning a foreign languages

I saw this quote on my Facebook feed, “If a child can do advanced math, speak three languages, or receive top grades, but can’t manage their emotions, practice conflict resolution, or handle stress, none of that other stuff is really going to matter.” Of course the person who shared it on my feed is obviously a mom.

I do have to argue that learning and speaking a foreign language (though not perfect) opens you up to a lot of opportunities. It helps you deal with people better. I work in a hospital where a lot of the patients we serve are non-English speakers. I find it unacceptable when an employer or a volunteer at my work turns away a patient or a visitor because they “only speak English.” That’s not good emotional intelligence, that’s just plain ignorance. When I am in a foreign country or a place where I am the only English speaker, I do try to speak that language. I struggle and it really shows, but I have never been turned away from a service.

Paris Syndrome?

Today (Thursday) I just left Paris for Loire Valley. The last time I was in Paris, it was almost 15 years ago. It may be an unpopular opinion, but my second visit to Paris exceeded my expectations. Why would I want to come back if I already done every touristy thing back in 2005? Well, my husband has never been to Paris. As a Vietnamese person, he wanted to visit the country that heavily influenced the Vietnamese (vietnamien) dishes he has grown up with. Paris was great, I do expect to come back for more visits.

Anyways, back to “Paris Syndrome.” When I was planning for our trip to Europe, I was writing different itineraries. A lot of people advised me to avoid Paris for a variety of reasons. My husband’s coworker went to Paris a week before is and felt “embarrassed” because it was dirty and he thought the food was not that great. Some people had an awful time to the point where they never want to visit Paris again. Anyways I learned this type of disappointment and it is called “Paris Syndrome.” Maybe a better name is “culture shock.” Paris is like any other major city with its fair share of problems. A city is not a theme park.

Avoiding to post my photos on social media

So far I have not posted a single thing about my trip on any of my social media. Well…this photo below has so far been the only thing I’ve posted from my travels. In previous excursions, I would post up-to-moment stuff we were doing on our trips. But I thought it would better to put it off. After all, we do not have the most reliable cellular network everywhere we go. If we thought posting on social media was important, we’d probably be camping in a McDonald’s everyday for free Wi-Fi.

Sending postcards

I have a really good friends — far beyond what I deserve. When they travel, they send me postcards of each of their destinations. For me, I had the intention to send and it slips my mind (ugh!). This is why I made sending postcards to friends when I travel a thing on my 20 for 2020. For this trip, I bought postcards and wrote a short story that happened at that location. Now I need to find a post office to send them them out.


A row of lanterns in Chinatown Milan

I thought participating in another weekly photo challenge could liven up my weekly recap. I am participating in the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge hosted by Something to Ponder About. This week’s theme is Row. I think what will make this Friday Photo Challenge a little different from my Tuesday Travel postings is that my Friday Photos will be a bit more recent and will not always be related to travelling. Some of my Travel Tuesday photos dates back many from many years ago.

This week, I just happened to be travelling so I am posting a travel photo. We were passing through Chinatown Milan on Sunday. It looks like based on the lovely row of lanterns they are still doing Chinese New Year festivities.

Lounging on a pool float

I’m blogging from Paris. I’ll be on vacation for the next few days so the timing of posts will be a little funny. 

Anyways, this is a photo I took at the Getty Villa in Malibu last year. It is like a smaller version of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. I do envy the statue who gets to relax in the pool. It looks like he is on a pool float rather than a rock.

Tuesday photo challenge: Rest

My first month of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. I would not call it a diet because it does not say what you should and should not eat, it is more like when you should eat. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee (without cream and sugar), and tea (without tea and sugar), and other non-caloric beverages. There are different types of fasts, one being 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating (16:8), 18 hours of fasting followed by 6 hours of eating, and 20 hours of fasting followed 4 hours of eating. Then I have seen fasts run for as long as 36 hours — something I have not tried at all.

I’ve done IF since Thanksgiving, but it was something I did occasionally especially on the weeks where I knew I’d be eating a lot of food later in the day due to a bunch of holiday festivities. Since January 1st I decided to take a more serious look into IF to see if it was something I could do everyday. So here is my take:

16:8 fast – This is how I fast almost everyday. I don’t eat after 8:30 PM and my next meal is 12:30 PM for lunch. It is very doable.

18:6 fast – This one is a little bit of a stretch because it ends at weird time for me. About a couple of hours later, I leave work. I guess I could snack at my desk with my fasting period is over. I am not sure if this is something I could do everyday.

20:4 fast – Though this fasting window is even longer, I would more likely do a 20:4 fast than an 18:6 because by that time, I leave my office and have dinner. Doing one day of a 20:4 fast is doable, but two days in a row is much tougher. Maybe this would happen about no more than two times per week, but not consecutively.

Any changes since I started IF?

I feel more focused.

There seems to be less brain fog. Maybe instead of having food on the mind, worrying about preparing my next meal, I focus on what task I need to do.

Mornings feel less rushed

I don’t have to make breakfast, so it is one less thing to worry about in the morning. I can just make coffee, feed the dogs, and get ready to go to the gym.

Save money

I would like to think IF can help save me money. Before on most days I would buy a pastry and a coffee in the morning followed by buying lunch at the work cafeteria. Since IF, I know I can wait until I finish my fast. I would like to think it had helped me with curbing my impulse buys.

I had a surprisingly easy transition.

I guess I had a fairly easier time starting it because I don’t drink soda and I don’t add creamer and sugar to my coffee. 

Instead of lunch… I am more productive!

Instead of lunch, I plan, write, read, and learn.

Have you done intermittent fasting, and did it work (or not work) for you? Comment below!

Five Things Friday: No Spanx needed!

Five Things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

Survived our housewarmings My favorite part is that I had an excuse to try a bunch of different recipes. The big hit was the sourdough focaccia bread. It was very easy to make. In second place was the Green Goddess dressing.

Blackout podcast I’m only one episode in so it is hard to judge right now. I’m usually a news and investigative journalism type of podcast listener.

No Spanx needed! It is probably the best feeling ever. I guess this is what happens when you do intermittent fasting and exercise regularly. I’ve been going to barre four times per week this month which is a real accomplishment. When we had to move out for a few weeks during our remodel, I barely went to barre because it was too far away from the place where we were staying. It was almost a miracle to go even one time per week at that time.I did not want to commit to another membership elsewhere if our stay was going to be temporary.

Overdrive app There are times where I am tempted to buy a book, but then there is the Overdrive app which helps make curbing my spending possible. Thank you, Overdrive for helping me save money. As much as I would like to go to the library to pick up a book, there are times where I come to find that the book is not available in my neighborhood library. Plus I don’t have to worry about forgetting to return the book and pay those library fines! Finished my first book of the year! I finished my first book of the year. It’s Darcy Bell’s A Simple Favor. It seemed to have some sort of slapstick quality to it. I assume the movie is like this too…

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Like a stone

I do not have any cats of my own. But I do have this photo of a feral cat. I took it when exploring the little Italian fishing village, Riomaggiore. It looked like it preferred being left alone.

On another note, I know I haven’t posted a lot lately. I”ve got plenty of posts in draft mode waiting to go live. It just needs a little bit of polishing.

Tuesday photo challenge: Cat

Friday Five: A Fancy name for skipping breakfast

Five Things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

Crunch time

This week is considered crunch time because this weekend is our housewarming. I finally finished refinishing my furniture. I especially would like to thank spray chalk paint and spray metallic paint for helping me complete these projects in a short period of time.

I’m so proud of my refinished table

New York Times Cooking Facebook Community

I love my community of home cooks. Its inspiring and it is the reason why I like to go to my social media feed now. As an Asian-American, it is heartbreaking to learn that the people I know in my real life are awful, racist, poor hating, Trump loving trolls. They maybe nice to my face, but reading their posts shows their true colors — deep down they resent me for thriving and advancing through life. As long as I fill my feed with my favorite groups around Schnauzers, Pomeranians, cooking, journaling, and travelling, I’ll be willing to interact with social media.

Recharging my social battery

I work on Saturdays and there are good things and bad things I like about. Pros: I get Mondays off. Since I work in the mornings on Saturdays, it is like I get a three day weekend every week. On Saturdays after work, I go out. The cons about working on Saturday: when I go out right after work, I’m exhausted. I’ll admit, going to my husband’s work party last Saturday was rough. It’s nothing personal. I am not anti-social, I just want a nap.

Intermittent fasting

Most days I’ve been doing the 16 hour fast followed an 8-hour eating window. So far I think of it as “skipping breakfast.” I am surprised to find myself feeling better than ever. Plus it saves money with less coffee shop trips indulging in sugar-laden lattes.

Eight Stones Method

Those who know me would say I tend to pick up plenty of hobbies from exercising to DIY-ing to writing. It can be a juggle and I am guilty for occasionally dropping the ball. I learned about the Eight Stones method from the “Happier” podcast. Each project is considered a “stone” and with each completed project, you replace it with a new project (or new stone). You can have no more than eight projects at a time. To me,  eight items feel like a lot to tackle, but it is still doable and it keeps me occupied. I even apply it to my work life.

Tuesday photo challenge: Transport

The most underrated thing about Los Angeles is the nature. You don’t need to drive very far to find it.

Wisdom Tree Tree of Life

Tuesday photo challenge: Transport

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Portal

Let’s see if I can keep up this weekly photo challenge.

In Florence (Firenze), Italy, 2015. I could not help but pose next to this little door.

My husband and I went to Italy for our (finally) honeymoon. I am excited to come back to Italy five years later.

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Portal

Five Things Friday: Happiness looks like this

Five Things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

☺ Electric blankets

It has been incredibly cold. The new door has helped seal the house keeping the drafts away. We do not have a heater in the house, but an electric blanket will do.

😁 Cocofloss

The hype is real! My hygienist said I did not have a lot of tartar and buildup from my last visit. Phew!

 🎥 1-Second Videos

This is part of my 20 for 2020. So far it is not so bad. When I did a daily photo challenge many years ago, it was easy to start. But towards the middle, I had a difficult time coming up with good photos or writing something to say. In retrospect,  I may have been more concerned about always having the “perfect content” and that I was not going, going, going. It gave us the unhealthy rise of influencers who seem like they are going, going, going but fueled by debt. Documenting the “seemingly mundane” is fine too.

Backup plan

We were planning to go to Italy, France, and Switzerland this February but it looks like plans may need to change. That is because of the transit strike in France and it may potentially affect our plans. We greatly rely on public transit when we travel abroad. So on to creating another itinerary for Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. That’s the backup plan!

🐕 Koda rolling on the grass

And I played it in slow motion. Check out the video! That is what happiness looks like!

Koda rolling on grass

19 for (20)19 reverse list

I did not create my 19 in (20)19 list in the beginning of the year. So instead I wanted to use this opportunity to reflect back on the 19 things I’ve done this year.

1. Got a new job

2. Revived this blog

Especially at the end of this year, I started writing and engaging with the blogging community. Yes, during the year I tried to write something but I had a tough time sustaining it.

3. Went to Peru


4. Enjoyed the Central Coast


5. Got our house remodeled

This was years in the making. Ever since we bought our house. We interviewed contractors in the last two years and we bit the bullet. The timing may have not been great with me starting my new job and the remodel happening in the last semester of grad school, but we did it!

6. Made a sourdough starter…and successfully made bread, pretzels, crackers, and more!


7. Drove to Tucson

8. I completed my Master’s Degree

A thing I wanted to do in my early 20s became something I did in my early 30s. Somehow it came in full circle. It was a major I wanted to pursue but I was constantly deterred how there was not a lot of money in public health. After going through a decade of trying three careers, the third career being public health, I went back to school to advance my public health career.

9. Taking public transit more…and walking more.

I use to drive A LOT in my last job. My poor car! With my new job, within the same county and it’s accessible through public transit. As a result, I’ve been walking more and reaching 10,000 steps each day.

10. Stopped buying new clothes and started renting.

My new job requires me to dress up a little more and honestly buying a new wardrobe for workwear is out of my budget. Going forward, instead of buying and being constantly dissatisfied with majority of my purchases, I decided to rent my clothes from Le Tote.

11. I went a whole year of going plastic-free on shampoo and soap.

No more plastic bottles for shampoo and soap. Next up is finding the right face soap.

12. Made my own toner, moisturizer, and body oil.

Our home remodel affected our finances in major ways which also includes my beauty budget. It was tough taking the jump because I enjoy those luxuries. But I have to say though, it has not been so bad. When I had to bootstrap in my early 20s, I used grapeseed oil as my moisturizer. It was not so bad. I thought I give doing DIY beauty another shot.

13. I tried intermittent fasting and it was not terrible.

In my last job, I did quite a bit of stress eating and I was always concerned about my resting heart rate. I even tried intuitive eating but it seemed like I was hungry only all the time. When I drove long distances, I would during my drive to stay awake. I was eating more, but moving less. Any form of moving was usually reserved for the gym.

Now since I have a fairly more balanced life, I move more and I feel less hungry. I’ve been building up to doing a 14-16 hour fast daily. I was even able to power through in December.

14. Got a new dentist and I did not get charged an arm and a leg.

I dreaded going to my last dentist. I went out of each appointment getting charged extra for “necessary” treatment I was not sure I needed.

15. Hit 500 classes in Pure Barre

And I did not even know it until one day in January I got a nice surprise.

16. Learning foreign languages

17. Started creating my cooking binder

I try so many different recipes so I want to hold on to only the recipes I enjoy. I started putting this recipe book when I was on school break and stopped right after. Along with it, I barely looked at recipes.

18. Started refinishing my furniture

19. Appreciating the art of air-frying

I got an air fryer on sale. It looks like we’ll never have to order takeout again. Or at least order fries.


Side note: I know people may say things like “Bye 2019, you suck.” I do notice a pattern when people (namely, the same people) say, “bye 2018, you suck” and the year before “bye 2017, you suck.If you continue to make poor choices, then you’ll continue to have terrible years. Don’t wait a whole year to turn things around, it can start right now.