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.

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

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.

Five things Friday: You choose to be where you’re at today

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. Sirtfood diet

I thought it was an acronym for something but it is short for sirtuins, a group of seven proteins found in the body that has been shown to regulate a variety of functions, including metabolism, inflammation and lifespan. The crazy thing about Sirtfood is that a lot of foods in this diet are foods I already eat like kale, red wine, blueberries, coffee, and walnuts.

2. Lana laughing

She is holding it longer too. It’s me and my husband’s favorite new sound.

3. Toxic Positivity from the “Terrible, Thanks for Asking Podcast”

I came across this podcasts that talks about why blind positivity can be toxic and incredibly messed up. Would you tell a person with a terminal illness that the reason why their condition is not improving is because “you are not positive enough?” Would you walk down skid row preaching to the homeless if they think and believe hard enough about being housed, it will manifest? I am so sick of the “good vibes only” camp because it completely dismisses the real problems and it tells us to suppress our real emotions. I remembered a few years ago when I got let go from a job, though it was a job I did not like, I was crying the moment I sat in my car. In the car, I called boyfriend (now husband) and called my now former coworkers goodbye. I cried the entire way home too. I remembered trying to frame it in a positive light, it was not a job I did not like but what sucked more was that I had no income and I’d be lying to myself I told myself I would be okay living with no money.

4. JarJoy mini cheesecakes

To be honest I bought these mini cheesecakes from Aldi because I thought these were the perfect size for future homemade baby food projects.

Also these mini cheesecakes taste great!

5. This post I found on my Facebook feed.

I’ve always learned envy can be healthy. People experience envy because they desire something. You have the choice to work towards that desire or sit around and hate on the person.

Five things Friday: Pizza night

1. Corn Cheese Pizza

My roommate many years ago was raving about this pizza when I planning for my first trip to the Bay Area (she went to Berkeley). It’s such a weird combo, but it tastes delicious. In fact, I plan to make this pizza for dinner tonight. This pandemic has made me nostalgic of past travels. I am glad the quickest way to relive these memories is through making (and eating) food.

2. Charles Perrault fairy tales

I won’t introduce Lana to the Disney version of fairytales right now. When I was younger, I was introduced to the Disney version of fairytales all throughout early childhood. It was not until I was in elementary school I learned there were different versions of the same fairytales and I found those far more interesting than the Disney version. In other versions there were real lessons you can internalize in such a short story like “sometimes nice people are really wolves in disguise.” In Disney stories, the lesson is you must find a prince and you live happy ever after.

3. COVID pods

Maybe I underestimated the fact that Lana does have a social circle through her daycare — something rare for a child nowadays. She sees them in person and observes them. She can’t crawl yet, but I am sure from watching the other older babies who can crawl, sit up, or stand she feels motivated so she can join them in some floor activities. In contrast, my nephews have strictly done virtual school and have not seen their friends and classmates in real life for a long time. There is video chat, but there is nothing like in-person interaction.

4. Rain…lots of it this week!

Photo by Eva Elijas on

5. If Lana gets a full night of sleep, she gets a sticker

Actually the stickers on my calendar are really for me to track if she is sleeping through the night. If she does not wake up between the times of midnight to 4 AM, a sticker is added on my calendar. It’s to track and look back how often she is sleeping through the night…and find an excuse to brighten my calendar with stickers. The trend lately is that she starts sleeping at 9PM. I don’t mind if she wakes up at 4:30 AM — it allows me to start my day when the world is quiet and after I feed and change her.

Five things Friday: What I will miss from maternity leave

This is my last Friday before I head back into work so I decided to write about things I will miss about maternity leave.

To be honest, I did not really enjoy maternity leave. I thought I would, and was ready to give myself four months or even six months where I would live off the remaining three months from my savings. Instead I decided to return to work after three months of being on maternity leave. After three months, I feel I am mentally ready to step back into the grind. I think one factor is that I have on-site daycare at work making the transition from maternity leave a lot easier. First of all, I don’t have to look for childcare elsewhere and pay exorbitant fees. Not to mention, spots for daycare can be competitive. Secondly, I don’t have to compromise my schedule where I would wake up early to take Lana to my parent’s house who live 20 minutes north from me and pick her up after work. Also, to entertain another option, my husband and I do not have to move closer to my parents. Lastly, I did not have quit my job. It could have been a combination of all these things listed above and it is wild that we never had to think about any of it.

Maybe I did not enjoy maternity leave like I thought I would because of the lockdown. Everyday felt the same to me. I could not take Lana to the malls and sit in bistros to people watch with her. My restaurant hopping was more like Postmates orders coming to my door — and I got tired of it fast. I spent my days reading, showed her high contrast images, made toys, taught her how to use said toys, conducted sensory activities, sang, taught her how to sit and stand, tummy time, played music, etc. I felt I could have done more for Lana (and my dogs) by taking her out more if I could. I even fantasized about traveling somewhere during maternity leave if I could. Many of my friends were talking me into staying on leave for as long as I can. As much as I enjoy watching Lana grow, I want to move on.

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in paid maternity leave and in taking all the time needed to bond with your baby. I felt I took all the time needed to bond with her and I am ready to return to the real world. It is criminal that here in the United States paid parental leave is not a guarantee. What is even more criminal and disorienting is how each state and each employer does it differently.

Anyways, I am done ranting. Here are the five things I will miss about maternity leave:

  1. Walking my dogs (and of course Lana) everyday. I am not sure I could continue to walk with my kids everyday. It is usually a walk around the neighborhood — I can make them shorter where I walk about 20 minutes a day instead of an hour each day. Or maybe I can stick with weekends and holidays or maybe make every other day.
  2. Afternoon naps. I am not a daily napper. If I nap, it is no more than 20 minutes. I am sure I will miss afternoon naps when I return to work. I can’t really nap during my lunch break since I asked my supervisor for more breaks through the day — but it was at the cost of having a shorter lunch. I went from having a one-hour lunch break to a half-hour lunch break. But this time I have two 15-minute breaks that will allow me to visit Lana at daycare more instead of just lunch hour. No napping for me until the weekends.
  3. Making meals that take a lot of time during a weekday. I enjoyed experimenting with recipes everyday because I can. Usually this hobby is saved on some weekends if we are not going out of town.
  4. Going to my neighborhood library. The libraries are closed, but they have library-to-go service where you reserve a book and you go to pick up your book. The thing is this service is only open from Monday to Friday 10 AM-4 PM. I enjoyed my walks to the library to get books but now I had to sign up for another library that offers library-to-go service on Saturdays. This new library is not walking distance and is a fifteen minute drive from my house. I do want to continue the experience of reading to Lana.
  5. Milestones. I spend my days observing what new skill she picked up, what new object she engaged in, what new sound she made, etc. I’ll miss observing those simple things. Well…I hope the daycare staff can call me if she is starting to crawl, walk, or use the toilet. All I have to do is walk upstairs.

Five Things Friday: Lots and lots of TV

Yup, I want to write something not related COVID-19 and nothing related to my work since it’s all about mitigating COVID-19 in the community. It’s been a tiring week. My mind has been running on COVID-19 day and night for the last several weeks. There were many days where I felt uninspired to write or try a new recipe. For my pregnancy, my focus is to stay quarantined on my off-hours and my days off, eat a balanced meal, exercise, and get plenty of rest. I decided to stick with these basics for my prenatal care– the fewer things I need to deal with, the better. I haven’t even created a baby registry…it just hasn’t been on my mind. I told my husband we should prepare ourselves to not even have a baby shower. That’s okay if we do not get one.

  1. Drinking a smoothie daily — that is my hack for being able to meet and most of the time, exceed, my daily fruit and veggie intake during my pregnancy.

2. The Crown – I finally finished “The Crown.” Since I am not a binge-watcher and I don’t watch Netflix during the workweek, finishing all three seasons took me weeks.

3. Free HBO – HBO has made 500 hours worth of their content free without a subscription. Unfortunately, that does not include “Big Little Lies.” But I did see “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”

4. New work schedule – I now have a new work schedule. This was a result of closing our office on Saturdays due to COVID-19 restrictions. To be honest, I kind of miss having Mondays off. I enjoyed sleeping in on Monday when I knew most of the world was going to work on a Monday. Also, it was easier for me to schedule appointments.

5. “Community.” More TV! “Community” is out on Netflix! I did notice on the “Top Ten” of Netflix there are some older shows that made the list like the first “Hangover” movie. I guess people finished all the new content on Netflix, they are now reminiscing older movies and TV shows.

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