Five things Friday: Noodle Hack

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.

Getting the Childcare Tax Credit (CTC) – I know I’ve been hearing about getting the Childcare Tax Credit and to be honest, it was nice seeing that credit in my checking account this morning. Please keep in mind that this is an advance that applies for next year’s tax season, not a stimulus check. Half of the usual CTC is coming in the form of monthly payments. It made me think, why can’t it always be in monthly payments rather than a lump sum that one time you file your tax return. I’m thinking more about that parent that needs that break to pay for their kid’s formula or a few days of daycare. I’m thinking about that parent that needs to have a little bit of money to put away to save for a future summer camp

Experimenting with adding baking soda to your noodles – I heard about this cooking hack from a Youtube video. Lately I’ve been playing around with this trick. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference. Maybe I should buy some ramen noodles as a control for comparison.

Bionicos (Mexican Fruit Salad) – Looks indulgent but it’s incredibly healthy and filling since it’s mostly strawberries. The cream sauce is very, very light.

Managing my work through the Pomodoro Timer – I learned about the Pomodoro Timer on my new fitness watch. I thought the name was kind of funny and thought “what’s a tomato timer?” I looked it up and it’s basically you work for twenty-five minutes (“Pomodoro”) followed by a five minute break. After the five minute break, you repeat. Generally you take a longer break after you complete four Pomodoros, but the rules are pretty flexible. I thought the concept was very simple, but after trying the Pomodoro timer all week, I’m pleasantly surprised how much work I got done including ones that have been on the back burner for months.

Bakeries in LA list – I am working through this list of iconic bakeries around LA.

Five Things Friday – Attempt #1

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

1. Saag Paneer – Attempt #1

It was surprisingly pretty easy to make. The hard part was looking for paneer. Thankfully Sprouts sells paneer, but next time I want to get my paneer from an Indian market since we have so many of them where I live.

saag paneer
Need to have better plating skills. This is just from my pan.

2. “Trese” anime series on Netflix

As a Filipina-American it was so awesome to see all these creatures from Filipino folklore play out in the modern day. It reminds me of a Filipino version of Grimm, but much more well…grim…

3. Evening walks with my husband, Lana, and the dogs

Right now we’re experimenting with evening walks. Maybe it will help Lana fall asleep faster.

4. Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew Coffee

This has saved me from standing in the long lines at the coffee shop at work. I can just go straight to the office and make my own cold brew from my desk.

5. New fitness tracker

My FitBit Charge 4 decided to stop working on Sunday after one year of having it. Before that I had a FitBit Charge 2 for several years before it died out. I did not want to shell out another $150+ on a FitBit so I did a little bit of research and came across the Amazfit Bip U Pro. It looks like an Apple Watch or a FitBit Versa but so much more in my price range.

5 Things Friday: Food fads I hate

Instead of my usual five things that made my week, I decided to do this fun prompt on food fads I hate from Salted Caramel. I would not say I absolutely hate any particular food, maybe more like I’m frustrated with certain food trends. Here are mine’s below.

1. Things that are gold leaf or has gold flakes – there is zero nutritional value and it does not change the flavor. It’s just pretty.

Matcha cheesecake
This matcha cheesecake was good but the gold flakes were unnecessary.

2. Activated charcoal everything -There was this ice cream shop in downtown LA that sold activated charcoal ice cream. Seems like this charcoal trend went a little too far at this point. I think if you want to have “healthier” ice cream, blend frozen bananas and frozen pineapples. Voila! You have pineapple soft serve. Or if you have to do some damage, get regular ice cream.

3. Feta – Please, please leave my feta alone! Or at least don’t hoard it. I remembered when the TikTok pasta (errm...baked feta pasta) was trending, it was so hard to find feta cheese for so many weeks. I finally did make the pasta and I get it. It tastes amazing!

Tiktok pasta baked feta pasta

4. Sourdough making – I remembered watching videos on how to make sourdough. What I did not like is discarding half of the starter for each feeding. I would keep another container for the discard and made things with it like put it in waffles, crumpets, pretzels, etc. There was a point I had more discard than I could handle so I stopped making it. Instead I do the five minute bread.

5. Juices – Don’t buy a juicer — get a blender instead. I understand the thought of blending celery may not sound so pleasant because of all the pulps and fibers but that’s all the nutritious stuff! Plus you get more bang with a smoothie for your buck.

Watermelon drink
Why have watermelon juice when you can have a watermelon smoothie?

Five things Friday: Self-care activities that make me feel like myself (Parenthood edition)

The other day my supervisor was talking about how she was looking forward to her first vacation with her family in 15 years. She tells me it’s better now that her kids are older — her youngest is a teenager and the other two are of college age. She laments about her time of early motherhood how she felt like she never had time to care for herself — maybe go out for a massage or get her nails done. It made me think about what are things I can do (or have done) to make me feel like myself. As a someone who has previously worked in senior care, it is just as important for the caregiver to take care of themselves. I’ll challenge myself to name five, so here it goes:

1. Going to an in-person exercise class – I know this is lame. A lot of people I know would prefer a massage or a facial, but I enjoy going to an in-person exercise class. I like to sweat it out. Nowadays I spend Monday to Friday exercising to videos at home. Going to an in-person exercise class was a frequent thing I enjoyed going to pre-pandemic and pre-motherhood because it is a place where I meet my friends and meet new ones and we bond over how much that exercise kicked our butts. But now with a kid, going to an in-person exercise class is nice weekend treat.

2. Shopping and window shopping too – I love walking through markets, farmer’s markets, malls, clothing stores, boutiques, etc. I don’t really shop until I drop, I just shop with my eyes. When it comes to having stuff, I try to be intentional as possible.

3. Walking around the neighborhood or a park – You see my self-care involves a lot of wandering. I like to pass by bakeries and restaurants and make lists in my head that I need to go try them out.

4. Working on creative projects – I have plenty of creative projects on the backburner. It’s ranging from re-arranging furniture in the house, doing a photo display around the house, writing on my journal and blog, working on a puzzle, trying a new recipe, etc. Pre-motherhood I would spend a good part of my weekends doing a bunch of small craft projects or trying a new cooking technique. Nowadays I would like to take on bigger (more like rather expensive) projects like working on my kid’s room so she can move out of our room…or making our patio a place to relax. You can never have too many places to lounge and read.

5. Hiring someone to assist with small tasks at home -I know this is more of a treat. I would hire the neighborhood gardener to help maintain and tidy my yard especially when there would be weeks where I can’t keep up.

Mothers, fathers, and other caregivers — what self-care activities do you do to make you feel more like yourself?

Five things Friday: Tik Tok pasta

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!

1. Tik Tok pasta – This baked feta pasta turned out so good. I was thinking about experimenting with some ingredients like using ricotta cheese instead of feta. I could season the ricotta with herbs, salt, pepper, and egg.

2. Food around the world series – I’m starting my food challenge this coming Tuesday!

3. Baked Yoghurt & Herb Salmon with Fennel & Lemon – This is another recipe I made this week. Instead of baking it in the oven, I just did stovetop. I loved using the dark ends of the leek and it came out crispy…almost like — dare I say it — bacon!

4. This meme describes my occupation perfectly. It is a lot of paperwork. My husband probably thinks I’m photo two also.

5. Working Moms Connect (Support Group) on Facebook – I joined a working moms group on Facebook. Well…I joined a few groups in hopes of attending some meetups whether it is in-person or virtual. But I think the focus of a lot of these groups are just the posts, a place for moms to vent. I enjoy reading them, they’re interesting. One post that got my attention was a post asking other moms about their commute times. I was shocked on how far some of the commutes were and they don’t live in infamously congested Los Angeles. Some of them have commutes of 160 miles roundtrip. There were some who drive 1.5 hours one way. I would never accept a job if I had to drive that far. I wonder if the cities and towns they live in don’t have any job opportunities. Or if they were attracted to cheaper housing market willing to make these long drives.

Five things Friday: It’s a no meat week!

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!

1. No meat week — though not on purpose. We had a large produce box and I am determined to make sure nothing goes to waste! I asked my husband if he’s missed having meat at home and he does not surprisingly. I’ll continue this experiment at home. It’s likely meat dishes will be reserved for eating out or when we feel indulgent at home.

2. Speaking of no meat, check out this grilled cheese sandwich!

3. This post

I kind of agree with it but I also think of the people who just can’t make these adjustments if they’re already tight on money. I remembered when I bought a car in my early 20s, I knew I needed to spend less on fancy coffees, restaurants, and clothes for a while. I needed a car because I went from urban and walkable West LA to sprawling San Diego. Having a car in San Diego was a necessity. A drastic measure was reducing my grocery budget to $20 a week. It was doable because it was just me and I mostly eat vegetables and almost no meat. Also at the time I was carrying student loan debt. I guess what I am saying is that in my position at the time it was easy to cut back. For others not so much. Some have families and enjoy the comforts of their current lifestyle. Just telling them to adjust and sacrifice their current comforts is painful.

4. Aaron and Claire YouTube channel

I’ve been on a kick watching their YouTube Channel lately. Many of their recipes seem really quick. I’m entertaining the idea of having a blog post of their dishes.

5. Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel by Bernardine Evaristo

This is one of my current reads. I previously tried reading on the e-reader a couple of months ago, but I found it a difficult read due to the writing style. It looked liked poetry and there was no punctuation. It was a frustrating read, but I found the language beautiful and that’s why I was willing to give it a second chance in the form of an audiobook. I am glad I did because I can definitely get lost in their stories. The twelve women in the novel all have different lives — it’s compartmentalized, but yet they weave in and out of each others’ lives as friends, students, children, parent, and even acquaintances.

Five things Friday: Celery Juice for days…

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!

1. 9 Lifestyle Changes That Let You Feel Rich At Any Income

I know this is not new information, but I liked how Lindsay from The Financial Diet framed it. Keeping my space uncluttered and tidying up a few minutes per day, sticking with a color scheme (I have not analyzed my wardrobe), and having routines are some lifestyle habits that would make me feel rich without spending a thing.

2. Moleskine 18-month Planner

I bought myself a Moleskine planner for July 2021-December 2022. I will be ending my journey with the undated Passion Planner early. Maybe I’ll do a review one day. It was a hard decision because their covers are so pretty!

3. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

I am currently reading Minor Feelings and to be honest, I don’t want this book to end! In fact, I am reading two other books to just not have it end. I am so glad I bought this book so I never have to dread the idea of returning it to the library. Side note: speaking of libraries they’re open!

4. Celery juice

I received a lot of produce last week. With all the celery, I’ve been making celery juice almost every morning. Usually I like to start off my day with a simple spinach, almond milk, and banana (or berry smoothie). But since I don’t have any spinach, I decided to experiment with celery juice. It’s just water and celery. It’s better than I expected. No peanut butter needed.

5. There are No Girls on the Internet podcast

Stories featuring voices who have long been voiceless. The ironic thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice…it’s just that some are more prominent than others.

Five things Friday: Potatoes for dessert?

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!

1. A potato dessert? I’d be open to it. I’m not talking about compost cookies, but potato chips coated in honey topped with vanilla ice cream.

2. To be honest, I’ve never heard of any of these monuments in the United States. Maybe we’ll make a trip if we’re ever in any of those states.

3. I’ve been wanting this patio chair for a long time. Now since we finished our deck and the weather is getting better, I want to spend more of my days out in the yard. This chair has been sold out for a long time and I put in my email for a notification in case it gets stocked. Each time I get notified and I open up the Target app, I only find that it is sold out. It seems like this chair gets sold out minutes after it is available. Or maybe when it is in stock, there is only one available.

4. “My Boss Expects Me to Have Career Ambition. Do I Have To?” by Alison Green

I’ve been in that situation where I’ve decided it’s okay to not experience career progress especially if I enjoy my job or my employer. My reason: there’s no clear opening to move up. In my last job, there was a position I was eyeing but that person had to retire in order for that spot to open. I loved my last job a lot and I loved the people, so I did not mind staying in that job title. I always looked for other opportunities to grow professionally — picked up new skills or volunteered or advised in a board — even if it meant no clear career progression within my employer. I felt like enjoying my employer was enough. What made it tough was the expectation from my supervisor to have career ambition when I clearly knew there no clear direction up. Then finally I found something else somewhere else.

5. How to Get Ahead of Stress Before It Overwhelms You from Thrive Global

The beginning of this week has been rough. I’ve been exhausted and burnt out. When I was going through my e-mail I saw this newsletter from Thrive Global. The title alone was a reminder that I had my ways to get ahead of stress. I enjoyed reading what other people did when they were about to get stressed. It was simple things like going outside or just breath. Maybe there’ll be Five Things “Destress, my way” edition.

Five things Friday: Getting to know you

I thought for this week’s Five Things Friday to play around with the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge theme, Getting to Know You. Here are five thing about me around what I enjoy and things I aspire to.

1. I enjoy cooking

If I had more time to blog, I would share more cooking photos. I am in the process of replacing of my old crusty cookware. I got rid of two my T-Fal pans — the nonstick properties are no good. I replaced them with a Staub cast iron skillet and Cuisineart stainless steel pan. This week I’ve been playing around with my Staub cast iron skillet and I love it. Here’s to many uses in the kitchen!

Cooking Brussel Sprouts inspired from this the About to Eat video.

2. I am resilient

“Whenever you should doubt your self-worth, remember the lotus flower. Even though it plunges to life from beneath the mud, it does not allow the dirt that surrounds it to affect its growth or beauty.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

My former supervisor would describe me as buoyant and ebullient. It’s probably the best description I’ve received. I am not about toxic positivity — that is ignoring the problem and pretending things are fine and invalidating your feelings. Instead, I see the problem and I am determined to get everyone out of the situation.

Admittedly, I know some (err…many) people who are not a fan of my approach. It’s tempting (and easy) to dwell in the negativity — I’ve gone there too. There is one group that likes to weigh me down and another group that likes to throw whatever in its path to “improve” the situation. There’s a Joseph Campbell quote I tell myself and that is “the only way out is through.” Sometimes you just can’t fight and resist the inevitable. It reminds that positivity is important, the ability to uplift a group can encourage people to do their best work.

3. I was a career changer

I graduated with a biology degree thinking I was going to pursue pharmacy or medicine. Then I decided to take a gap year working in biotechnology. I took a gap year because I wanted to save enough money to take the exams, applications, and ultimately enough living expenses to wherever I was going for school. It did not work that way. I compromised thinking I was going to remain in a career in biotech, but I did not like it. I went from a small biotech company to a large biotech company to eventually get let go. From there I pivoted towards a public health career. I enjoy it a lot. I considered pursuing public health after university, but I was always told to turn away because there was not a lot of money. Maybe I should have not listened — especially to people who had no knowledge of the field or have thought about it. Working in public health in the last eight years has been a complete joy even through this pandemic.

4. I am trying to enjoy the art of slowing down

I noticed when I travel to other countries, the locals there seem to enjoy the art of slowing down. I’ve putting it into practice since our Italy honeymoon in 2015. When things get too overwhelming or if I am going, going, going it’s okay to put on the brakes and slow down. Or maybe just completely stop to enjoy the view for a while.

5. I am a long-time blogger

I’ve been blogging for a long time and I have no intention to make it a business even though I am a new mom. I’ve attempted to monetize my blog in the past, but the truth is I enjoy writing as I am — not as an advertisement. If I am frustrated and want to vent, I’ll do that. If I don’t enjoy a product, why should I write pretending that I do. Also, blogging is a way to keep in touch with my friends from university. After graduation, a lot of them have returned and settled in their hometowns and wrote about whatever — I wrote about life in a new town, restaurants I reviewed, and meals I’ve made. After some time that blog went dormant. I’ve gone through many phases where I would write a lot and take a break and write again and repeat. I have plenty of posts in my draft box that will eventually make it to the “Publish” button.

Five things Friday: Getting out our outdoor dining set

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!

1. Spending my weeknight dinners in the backyard

Daylight is getting longer and the weather has not been too cold or wet. My favorite time of the year is enjoying our meals in the backyard. I love getting our outdoor dining set out on the deck appreciating the extended daylight.

2. Air-fried tofu

Why do I always find making any meal with tofu intimidating? I love my tofu crispy and I have to say that it was pretty easy to make.

3. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

I finished reading Nomadland. I was in shock on how little these older adults made from social security. They cannot afford to fully retire so they spend their years wandering around America like land pirates chasing the next gig and surviving in their van.

4. Cancel Instagram beauty filters

5. Late bedtime for a mom?

I found out some moms go to bed as early as 8 pm. For me, early is going to bed at 9 pm. Most nights I go to bed at 10:30 pm. I guess that makes me a party animal? But really I spend a good part of my night time ritual reading in bed. If I don’t catch myself I’ll be up until 11 pm or later. Sounds like a wild night!

Five things Friday: Support your Postmates delivery person!

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! 

1. Listening to lots of podcast around the Asian American experience.

Why am I spending my week listening to podcast about Asian Americans? Because I know my experience as an Asian American is not representative of all Asian American experiences. I want to learn about learn about other Asian American experiences. I am currently listening to Asian American History 101, Rice to Meet You, Code Switch, and Feeling Asian, and Asian Enough.

2. Supporting those doing Doordash and Postmates and other gig roles

I had a former volunteer who still keeps in touch with me. She was suppose to finish her first year in P.A. (Physician’s Assistant) school, but she had drop out in the middle of Fall semester just because she could not do online learning. It was a frustrating experience. What sucks is that she still owes them money for that incomplete semester. She is taking a gap year before returning for the following Fall Semester. She told me she’s back to working fulltime, and on her days off she doing Postmates and DoorDash to start paying off that debt and save up for place to live closer to school in the fall. I love using Postmates, DoorDash, and Instacart! Hearing her situation reminds me about the people who make the conveniences I enjoy happen. When I buy groceries using Instacart, I am probably helping somebody get out of their situation.

3. S-Town podcast

I know S-Town is so 2017, but I very busy back then. I finally got a chance to listen to it over a weekend. You don’t really hear stories that take place in the Deep South or the middle of America. The series was like a character study on John McLemore, a man full of contradictions.

4.Hollywood Played a Role in Hypersexualizing Asian Women

In my senior year of college, I made the decision to not pursue graduate or professional school right now. I decided I was going to look for a full-time job in a lab or biotech for at least a year. At the time, I was so sure I was going to pharmacy school, medical school, or work in biotech for the rest of my career. As graduation got closer, and with very few bites in the job pool (it was the Great Recession) I got really anxious. My friends suggested to me, maybe instead of pursuing a professional job I should pursue something fun like become an actress. This article reminded me the reason why I never wanted to pursue acting as an Asian-American. I’d be expected to play characters with an accent or be pigeon-holed into stereotypical Asian characters. If I don’t take those roles, I would not get a lot of work. I would spend more time demanding for better roles. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many Asian American actors who have paved the way for better characters and better stories but that just too long.

5. Cheater Mac and Cheese

For people who don’t have milk to make bechamel sauce, this cheater recipe is for you.

Five things Friday

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!

1. Turon in the break room

Thursday was a pretty rough morning for me. Thankfully turon in the breakroom brightened my day. Turon is a Filipino snack that is a plantain or a banana wrapped in an eggroll wrapper.

2. My Mom Believes In QAnon. I’ve Been Trying a To Get Her Out.

I’ve had people in my social media feed and family members who have fallen into the conspiracy theories rabbit hole. Back then I would laugh it off, but now I find it incredibly concerning because I see their life unraveling before my eyes.

3. To be an Asian woman in America

“To be an Asian woman in America means you can’t just be what you are: a fully enfranchised human being. It means you are a blank screen on which others project their stories…”

Ugh…why does this killer deserve to have a narrative? Instead of calling it a hate crime, it is a reframed as a “sex addiction” and having “really bad day?”

I felt this opinion piece described me perfectly as a Filipino American who has lived in the U.S. all her life. I do get stories projected on me to define who I am; for example, assuming my parents were poor because they’re from the Philippines. They assume my dad joined the military and that was how they arrived to America. To be honest, my family in the Philippines have a very prosperous life there. They own a lot of property and have several businesses. My dad never joined the military. After college, he moved to the Middle East for work and brought along my mom. After the Middle East, they were in Germany, and settled in the United States where I was born. People — even fellow Filipino Americans — are left in disarray after I share them this story.

4. More time for…

Breastfeeding journey has officially come to an end and I am OK with that. I can elaborate in a longer post. But now since I don’t pump during lunch break, I can use that time to blog, read, or even take a nap.

5. Teddy interacting more with Lana

Teddy, my miniature Schnauzer, has been doing a little more interacting with Lana. It makes me happy because for a while he was so awkward around her because he did not know what to do with her. Now he sniffs her. He knows better that he can’t play with her yet. Maybe when she starts crawling, he’ll do more playing.