Little free library

I’m happy to say that my work has a Little Free Library to serve the community. My department launched a mobile LFL where everyday from 11:30am-1:30pm we would bring up the library cart for our patients, visitors, and staff members to enjoy free books. We are major hub for receiving donations in the community where clothes is the most requested — we have patients who come with no spare clothes when they’re discharged. But we’ve had books sitting in our office for a long, long time. They’re hardly requested so we decided to do an LFL. And yes, we definitely do take book donations. Of course they’re be disinfected before they circulate in the LFL. The books we have to replenish the most are the children’s books because people are always looking for new books for their kids (or niece, nephew, grandchild, godchild, etc.).

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September #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of September! Here is a recap of the books I’ve read over the past month!

Books finished

A Promised Land  by Barack Obama (in audiobook, from the library) – This book covered his early life into the end of his first term in office. It’s probably the longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I found his trajectory into becoming the President very interesting. He did not come from a political dynasty that groomed him for higher office. Just a man with a very optimistic and idealistic vision and it got him very far. Each time I listened to his audiobook, I felt hopeful after each session.

Continue reading September #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

I stopped counting the years and count my experiences…

My hibiscus produced three flowers over the last two weeks. It’s pretty easy maintaining hibiscus indoors — all it needs is lots of sun and water. It’s growing season so it needs to be fed frequently. My kitchen window is the perfect home for the hibiscus.

Continue reading I stopped counting the years and count my experiences…

Coffee and chocolate babka

If we were having coffee, we’d be pairing it with Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka bread. It’s so indulgent.

It’s a hot weekend. I planted my olive tree in the front yard. Though it was sold an indoor plant, my yard is the ideal place for my olive tree. Olive trees do need a lot of sun. Since we like to close our curtains throughout the day over the summer, keeping the olive tree indoors may be incompatible. I may consider getting another olive tree — maybe keep it in its container — for the deck area. Or maybe get a bay leave tree instead.

Speaking of hot, stay tuned for more tomato dishes. This month’s tomatoes theme is coming to an end. I was planning to make some hot pasta or some curry at some point this month, but it’s been too hot to make either. I’ll table those another time. I learned few cold dishes that have become home cook staples.

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July and August 2021 #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge (plus why I read for fun)

I’m participating in the #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge, hosted by SueDonnaJo and Debbie.

Up until this year I have not read much but I think that’s because I tried to treat it like the way I would watch Netflix — binging it. As of this year, I started doing Gretchen Rubin’s read 21 minute in 2021 to help me read more. I found doing this practice manageable and sustainable because reading 21 minutes a day is achievable. Now I can’t imagine a day where I am not reading 21 minutes.

I’ve been reading more for the mental health benefits and how to process difficult emotions especially as I go through life as being a new mom. Also because of the pandemic as there are significantly fewer events and people are less inclined to go anywhere, reading has provided an escape where I can still have this sense of human connection and empathy. Reading is one of the simple pleasures that has centered me because there have been many moments when I have felt overwhelmed especially on some weeks when my husband is out doing army training.

Continue reading July and August 2021 #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge (plus why I read for fun)

Covered in paint from head to toe

If you come to my house for coffee, you’ll probably find me all covered in paint from head to toe but that’s because I’ve been painting my kid’s room. I know I paid someone to paint Lana’s room a couple of weeks ago, but there’s this one wall in Lana’s room that was not painted and it’s a plywood wall that scream the 1950s. This house was all built in 1953 after all. I was not sure if I wanted to keep the plywood wall or replace it with drywall. The painter said if I were to put drywall, he can come back another time to paint that wall for free. But after much thought, I decided to keep it but I’m going to paint it myself. Over the past week, I’ve cleaned, repaired some of the panels, spackled, filled gaps, and sanded. Today is the day for priming and painting. Working on the plywood wall is more work than painting the drywall. I can’t imagine how much more the painter would have charged me.

Continue reading Covered in paint from head to toe

Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Happy Friday everyone! This week flew by — thank goodness! A lot has developed over the past week especially at work. Visitors seeing patients staying at the in-patient floors must have COVID vaccine or COVID negative test in the last 72 hours. The lines to the information desk are getting long. I think maybe while we are at it, we should have a vaccine clinic at all our lobby areas so if they get turned away, they can get vaccinated and not leave feeling empty-handed.

Also at work, all employees (including volunteers and contractors) at my work must have the COVID vaccine by September 30th. If they don’t get vaccinated, they can’t go to work. I’m not sure what the ultimate decision will be for those who won’t vaccinate. Is this an experiment to get more employees vaccinated? In the meantime, unions are negotiating for those who continue to not vaccinate to do weekly COVID tests in order for them to continue working but my employer will remain rigid with their decision. There is an exemption but that applies if the person is reported to get an anaphylactic shock from the vaccine. Honestly I don’t mind that my work won’t budge. As someone working for a public employer, is it financially responsible for tax payer dollars to continue to pay for employee COVID tests? Have my coworkers seen how much COVID tests cost? Also, I’m tired of holding the secondary title of contact tracer at work — it eats up a lot of time from my regular duties.

Continue reading Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Labyrinth of Books (PPAC #8)

I hope the Last Bookstore is not the last bookstore. Here’s to many more! When I have friends from out-of-town who come to LA, one of the places I take them to is the Last Bookstore to admire some of the artwork in a section of the store called the Labyrinth! After exploring the Labyrinth we can’t resist leaving this store without buying something — plus supporting a local bookstore. It’s a fun place to visit!

flying books the last bookstore
book tunnel the last bookstore

#PPAC8

Keep it simple

If you live in the United States — Happy 4th of July weekend! Here’s to a nice three-day weekend. I came into Friday saying “finally!” This past weekend was a little tough because it was my husband’s drill weekend leaving me to watch Lana all weekend. At eight months old she is getting incredibly mobile and I’m exhausted. This month, my husband has his annual three-week trainings so I told him on the weekends that he’s here, I’m going to use that time to go to in-person gym. During the week, I do the digital in-person classes from home but I like to use my weekends to go to in-person exercise classes as a treat. Also I miss seeing my gym friends. But also, I like to use up my class packages. I would hate for them to go to waste.

The Fourth of July weekend will be pretty simple. Instead of going out to watch fireworks this year, we’ll be watching it from our backyard. Fireworks happen so late in the day anyways it would be easiest to just watch them from home. Lana tends to get fussy when we are out too long and we have to deal with her crying the whole way home. At least from home, she’s comfortable. Also watching them from home is never a bad idea. We can see fireworks from everywhere in our yard. The thing I’ve learn about handling a baby is choose whatever makes you and your baby’s life easier. I tell myself Lana being little is only temporary. Don’t overcomplicate plans to appease everyone.

I am currently reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I borrowed it from the library, but I enjoy reading the book so much that I decided to buy it. There were so many moments where I stopped and paused to think about how I relate to her many passages. I’m not even halfway through, but it made me think about how I got to where I am. Even though people may credit my character for being a determined person, I have to admit there is a whole system that has helped me get to where I am today because I had certain privileges. I entertained the idea of a virtual book club to talk about this book but I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do so.

This month for “Eat Around the World” I’m doing ice cream. Other sweet cold treats are welcomed too! This one is going to be so much fun!

matcha beer ipa
This week try a cool matcha IPA

It’s my dogs’ birthday weekend!

It’s my dogs’ birthday weekend! Yay! Actually, tomorrow is Teddy’s birthday and last week was Koda’s birthday. Teddy will be six years old and Koda is five year’s old. I may be a mom to a six month old little human, but I continue to make every effort for them to enjoy life like they did before Lana was born. We continue to do dog walks (plus stroller) around the neighborhood and malls, hikes, and trips to the dog park. When it comes to dining out, I heavily favor the restaurant that has outdoor dining so Teddy and Koda can join too.

Teddy the Mini Schnauzer and Koda the Pomeranian

My first Mother’s Day was really nice. My family came over and we had a little potluck for lunch. But later on that day, one of the foods did not sit well with and my husband. I threw up and was sick well into the following day. My husband had the same symptoms a few hours later. We have identified the food that got us sick because it was the one thing we did not feed Lana. I wanted to bring it up with my family that we got sick from that one dish, but I’ll hold back. I don’t want anyone to take it personally. Maybe the next time we hold another potluck, I’ll challenge everyone to bring a new dish — something you did not bring last time.

We are still going through the Bout of Books marathon. I am surprised to say I am still going. I thought I was going to give up on Monday when I got sick. I mean missed the morning and afternoon reading sprint that day, but I made up all the sprints reading in the evening. So far I’ve enjoyed reading. I listen to an audiobook on the way to work and the way back. Before bedtime, I read some more until I fall asleep. I just finished Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the “Real America” by Kevin Williamson. I am currently reading Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, and Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel (audiobook) by Bernardine Evaristo. I also read to Lana as well. This month it’s centered around Asian stories. I am currently reading to her Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories and Filipino Friends by Liana Romula and Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran.

On Tuesday, the gardeners installed the plants for the front yard. It’s not quite complete since I am still so undecided to what plants to buy and where. Right now I bought a few to start plus a young pink tabebuia tree. I am so glad I did not go on a plant shopping spree because I’ve been spending every evening after work watering all the plants in the yard to establish rapid root growth. For the pink tabebuia, I’ve been filling the tree ring. Maybe when these current batch of plants are settled then I’ll consider buying new plants.

Cold brew coffee and chocolate hazelnut babka at Barclays Coffee and Tea in Northridge

#Read21in21 January Overview

I decided to participate in the #Read21in21 challenge for this year to help me build a daily habit of reading. Surprisingly, I have yet missed a day of reading. I squeeze time for reading by listening to audiobooks on the way home from work or read for 21 minutes before going to sleep. Here is what I read for January:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.

My take: I enjoyed listening to this audiobook during my drives home. I could definitely get lost in her words.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and – with a little encouragement from her friends – a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind. But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.”

My take: I’ve had this book in my Kindle for a while. I do need a few guilty pleasures in my rotation because somedays work can be brutal. I truly did enjoy this book, especially as a new mom of three months. There are times where I do feel I almost lose myself in caring for her, the books reminds me that I should care for myself too.

Books I read to Lana

In the beginning of the reading challenge, I use to count reading books to my daughter as part of the 21 minutes. I still read to her daily but it is extra reading on top of my daily 21 minutes.

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

Well-behaved women seldom make history. Good thing these women are far from well behaved…

My take: I’ve had this coffee book table in my living room for years. I enjoy reading it. Occasionally I read passages to her. There are some stories that are not kid friendly, but she does not know that yet.

Bringing the Outside In by Mary Siddals

A rollicking book that reminds young readers to go outside and play!

My take: A fun book on enjoying the seasons.

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith

What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to? Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to get the words flowing. 

My take: I loved the artwork and metaphor. I would borrow this book from the library again when Lana starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr

Speed and self-confidence, that’s Astrid’s motto. Nicknamed “the little thunderbolt,” she loves to spend her days racing down the hillside on her sled, singing loudly as she goes, and visiting Gunnvald, her grumpy, septuagenarian best friend and godfather, who makes hot chocolate from real chocolate bars. She just wishes there were other children to share her hair-raising adventures with. But Astrid’s world is about to be turned upside down by two startling arrivals to the village of Glimmerdal: first a new family, then a mysterious, towering woman who everyone seems to know but Astrid. It turns out that Gunnvald has been keeping a big secret from his goddaughter, one that will test their friendship to its limits. Astrid is not too happy about some of these upheavals in Glimmerdal — but, luckily, she has a plan to set things right.

A chapter book I read to Lana. Personally, I enjoy it, it’s a fun book where she skis, sleds, and sings out loud even if it annoys a certain someone. I enjoy acting out the characters for her even though she may not understand what is going on yet.

Fairytales of Charles Perrault (Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Bluebeard, Cinderella)

My take: I am trying to avoid introducing Lana Disney versions of fairytales for as long as I can, so I am looking into other versions of fairytales like Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots. They’re messy, wild, and teach actual lessons.

WOKE: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood

Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

My take: I would buy this poetry book to have as part of our bookshelf.

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Chinese New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. Karen Katz’s warm and lively introduction to a special holiday will make even the youngest child want to start a Chinese New Year tradition!

My take: I don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, but my husband does. I thought this was a good first book to learn about CNY for Lana and me. I would borrow this book again when she starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.

What’s next?

I thought it would be fun to plan out what my next reads would be. Maybe I could explore a different theme each month? Here are the themes I came up with for the following months.

January: it was about getting my feet wet. So no theme here.

February: Books by Black authors

March: Books written by women

April: Books turned into films and TV series (Not that I’ve seen the films either)

May: Books by Asian authors

June: Social justice/America

July: Summer vacations

August: Books translated from a foreign language

September: Banned Books

October: Books written by Hispanic authors

November: Books written by Indigeneous people/Native tribes

December: Magic

What did you read in January? How do you decide what to read next? Comment below!