Life according to my first digital camera

The first digital camera I ever bought with money I earn from my first job was a Canon point-and-shoot camera. Before that I would buy a series of cheap point-and-shoot 35 mm cameras and one-time-use cameras with money I earned through meager allowances and babysitting gigs. The Canon camera was my first big purchase in my life — it was the first items I bought in my life that was more than $50 — actually I remembered it was around the ballpark of $250+ in the early 2000s. At the time, my Canon point-and-shoot was the most expensive thing I owned and I was devoted to taking care of it, hoping it would last me a long time. From my senior year in high school at 17 years to 23 years old, it had a pretty good lifespan. Here is where it took me according to my Canon:

Lens Artists #133– My Photography Journey

Hearst Castle: Just three hours away from home


I have not been to Hearst Castle since I was in elementary school. A couple of weekends ago, I went to Hearst Castle for the second time, and I have to say, it is opulent as I remembered. It only a 3-hour drive our house. Maybe next time my husband and I will sign up for the grand rooms inside the main house.

Neptune’s Pool



The tour guide showed us one of the more unadorned places in the compound. The owner, William Randolph Hearst, was always changing his mind throughout the process; thus, it never finished. 


Other than admiring the grand architecture and grand views, don’t forget to look closer and appreciate the details from ceiling to floor.

Check out the rest in my Smug Mug Gallery!


Weekend Coffee Share: Have Some Cake

If we were having coffee, it would be at my house. I would make us some Vietnamese styled iced coffee and serve this Italian style cake I baked from Food52. For some strange reason, it reminds me of my Vietnamese mother-in-law’s honeycomb cake. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the cake.

I felt like baking a cake because I’ve been making a lot of madeleines in preparation for my friend’s wedding. I’ve tested different flavors from earl grey latte, lemon, vanilla, chocolate, banana, rosewater, and orange blossom. The final flavors that will be presented at the wedding are: rosewater, orange blossom, and vanilla dipped in chocolate.

But I’m not quite done yet though. I needed to figure out how to differentiate between rosewater and orange blossom. Also I need to figure out how to display them, purchase a few large airtight containers, and enough ingredients to make 300+ madeleines total.

My husband and I finally got a new mattress. After 8 years, I traded in my IKEA memory foam mattress for a Purple Mattress. Yes, I’ve had this mattress before I met my husband. So far, it’s promising and our mattress is not retaining heat.

Because we got a new mattress, it meant a trip to one of my favorite places, Home Goods! We picked up new bed sheets, servings plates, and I can never leave without a few more  items like this ceramic pig (plus a candle and new measuring cups)! I thought it was so cute! And it fits so well with the “Eat” and “Farm” signs I picked up from Target a couple of week back.


This Week:

A good chunk of it will be making madeleines — for a project like this, it would be awesome to have a kitchen aid. Today, I’ll start making the batter and get to baking them either Tuesday or Thursday night. FYI madeleines do freeze well.

On Wednesday, I’ll be in San Jose for the day at work. It’s going to be a long day.

Then Saturday will be the wedding day!

Julie Weekend Coffee Share

Credit: The Smushed Peach

Interested in participating in the Weekend Coffee Share yourself? Come on over to Nerd in the Brain for more details! Check out the link party page or this wordpress tag for inspiration.

Hike 26/52: A Cove in your Backyard

Date: July 2nd
Neighborhood: Lake Nacimento
Difficulty: 5 out of 5 (on a bike)
Weather: Hot
Distance: 2 miles (out and back)

This was a tough bike ride. We found a path behind the lake house and decided to go as far as we can and discovered another way to get to the lake.

What made the ride tough was riding up the hill — it was up, up, up. I confess, I gave up and walked up the hill almost all the way back to the house. It did not make things easier having a trailer with the puppies. That’s easily an additional 50 lbs.

Also, watch out for red ants!

And also, don’t drink mimosas before riding a bicycle in the heat. 

Hike 25/52 – Exploring around the Lake House

Date: July 1st
Neighborhood: Lake Nacimento
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 1 miles (out and back)

During the 4th of July weekend, we stayed at our friend’s parent’s lake house in Paso Robles. It’s nice…and it’s in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception unless you have an extender.

I decided to spend the afternoon to walk around their property and walk as far as I can along the dirt road until I say a sign to stop. It does not take me very far going down the dirt road.

Of course the puppies came along!

The vacation house was very nice and well…enormous. It made me think, “would I ever have a vacation house myself?” Most likely not. Why would I go to the same vacation home every long holiday weekend. If I needed to be home, I’d stay home for a stay-cation. For travel, I’d like to think AirBnB gives me access to vacation homes all around the world. Ideally, I’d like to spend my long holidays elsewhere to try out a different scenery, a different pace of life temporarily. What I love about AirBnB is that I get a small piece of “day-in-the-life” elsewhere that I would never get in a hotel full of concierge services and contintental breakfast.

Would you consider getting a vacation home yourself?

Weekend Coffee Share: It’s going to be a hot weekend

If we were having coffee, it would be at my house I’ll serve cold brew but you’ve got some options. Usually at home, the only beverages we stock up are coffee and tea. We have a Brita filter so we drink primarily water. Occasionally we have wine and beer and very rarely we have any carbonated beverages in the house. Because it’s so hot, we have La Croix sparkling water and San Pellegrino sparkling fruit beverage. You are indeed in luck.

Anyways it’s been so hot, the news placed an excessive heat warning and it will carry on tonight at 11 PM. Instead of dinner tonight, I would be happy to get some ice cream.

This week was nice. I was on vacation at Lake Nacimiento which is north of San Luis Osbipo. On the way from Lake Nacimiento, we thought of taking a little road trip along the Central Coast. We explored San Luis Osbipo and Solvang. We did not spend a whole lot of time in each town because the drive was so long. Also, we had plans to meet our friends in Calabasas later that day to see their new apartment.


Come to think of it, I don’t have any photos of our walk around downtown San Luis Obispo except for this photo of Koda. It looks like he’s got a big smile.

Solvang is a cute little town with Danish influences. Solvang means “Sunny Field” in Danish. I wish we stayed a little longer to explore. It’s likely we’ll come back when the weather cools.

These are photos I took from Solvang to Calabasas because I wasn’t driving. The State Route 246 is a fun drive. From the hills I can see the ocean and Santa Barbara.

I mentioned in an earlier post, our housemate is in the process of moving out. I have to say, she moved out fast. She came back her 3-week vacation in Europe, arrived home on the 4th of July, and moved her stuff out the following day. I guess she really wanted to live that West LA life. We are not looking for a housemate to occupy the spare room. My husband and I decided we’ll bootstrap and enjoy the house to ourselves.

Next week: 

Well I have all 5 days of work. It looks like this coming Friday and Saturday would be more bearable. Hopefully it means I can hike somewhere.

Also on Wednesday, I have a presentation. Wish me luck everyone!


Julie Weekend Coffee Share

Credit: The Smushed Peach

Interested in participating in the Weekend Coffee Share yourself? Come on over to Nerd in the Brain for more details! Check out the link party page or this wordpress tag for inspiration.

Weekend Coffee Share: Enjoy the long weekend!

If we were having coffee it would be at our friend’s lake house in Paso Robles serving regular drip coffee.

I hope the drive to this lake house wasn’t too difficult because the last five miles were all dirt roads.

Lake Nacimiento at Paso Robles

It’s nice to be in the  countryside for a few days. My grad school application was due on June 30th, but gladly I finished it about 10 days before. It made a difference in my work and life load! I was determined to finished it before the deadline and before going on vacation.

I won’t write too much for this week. We’ll be in Paso Robles until Monday morning and take a roadtrip along the Central Coast. We would like to hit up San Luis Obispo, Solvang, an Ostrich Farm, and possibly Santa Barbara and Calabasas. I’d like to make this trip back home to explore the Central Coast cities. I occasionally do work in Santa Barbara for sure visits, but I don’t really explore while I am there for work.

Roadtrip to Paso Robles

For the rest of the week, I have work off and come back Thursday. I will certainly enjoy this holiday week! Happy 4th everyone!

Julie Weekend Coffee Share

Credit: The Smushed Peach

Interested in participating in the Weekend Coffee Share yourself? Come on over to Nerd in the Brain for more details! Check out the link party page or this wordpress tag for inspiration.