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.

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 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: Want to feel better about yourself?

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. Formula

Ugh…I am so over the whole “breast is best” mantra for how to feed your baby. The message really should be “fed is best.” My exclusive breastfeeding (actually it’s pumping) journey has come to an end. I’ve been supplementing Lana’s feed with formula because I can’t keep up with the daily demand. After some research, I found a formula that was the closest thing to breast milk. Plus there is no added sugar (i.e glucose, corn syrup). The only sugar you should only find in formula is lactose.

To be honest, breastfeeding overall was okay. If I couldn’t do it or if my body stopped producing milk after two weeks, I would have been fine. The opinions around breastfeeding are so wild. Before Lana was born people would ask me if I intended to breastfeed, and I said “yes” and I got replies like “good mama.” Are you implying those who decide to formula feed are bad moms and parents? I only really wanted to breastfeed because I did not feel like buying bottles at the time. When Lana was born and about eight weeks into exclusive breastfeeding, people would tell me “…maybe it is time to stop.” I did not understand why I should suddenly stop–why have a change of mind? If my body continues to provide, it will keep providing, otherwise it’s going to be painful and uncomfortable if I don’t pump. Thankfully my mom who was been incredibly supportive told me if I am still pumping a year in, that is fine. She did not preach and give me a longwinded reason to stop or keep going.

2. My mom

…Leading to my next point, thank you mom! Thank you for not making me feel othered. Motherhood can be worse than high school.

3. A new month

Work last month was crazy busy. Was it because there were fewer days and the work paced was compressed? I am just glad February is behind us.

4. Instagram likes removed…even if it was an accident

On Tuesday Instagram accidentally removed the likes feature for a few hours and a lot of people (influencers and wannabe influencers) FREAKED OUT. To be honest, I never noticed. I probably wasn’t on Instagram when it happened. Also much time does one spend on Instagram to have noticed it?

5. Under the Influence with Jo Piazza podcast

Want to feel better about yourself? Listen to this podcast! I learned all the juicy details about mom influencers and how they curate that perfect life on Instagram. This podcast is like the rock that shattered it. I get that one would use Instagram as a business, but please don’t fool people (and yourself) believing your life is white walls, designer bedsheets, and perfectly behaved children. I look forward to Thursdays because of this podcast. Spoiler alert: Influencers hire professional photographer for their posts. Sometimes they hire them for one day to create 30 days worth of content.

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: Feeling hopeful

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. Presidential Inauguration

I confess, I have not seen the Inauguration in its entirety. I’ve seen snippets throughout the day and went out of my way to listen to Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural poem at work. But I did notice that day I did not see my social media feeds full of fake news, memes, and conspiracy theories. And it was not a coincidence; a lot of conspiracy theory followers are starting to realize they’ve been played because the things they hope would happen never happened.

2. First week of daycare

I am glad to have daycare at work. I love how I get to visit her during my work breaks so I can play with her — if she’s awake of course. It is a lot of fun and I love how she recognizes me as her mom.

3. Getting the COVID vaccine

I got the COVID vaccine on Thursday. Though my left bicep feels sore, I feel hopeful. In two weeks I get the second dose. Wish me well.

4. Cheap flowers from Trader Joe’s

I use to buy plants from Trader Joe’s because it is not an expensive indulgence and beautifies any room. I stopped buying when the pandemic hit because I had to make less trips to the grocery store. I would only go to one grocery store per week or I would do Imstacart. FYI, Trader Joe’s does not do Instacart.

5. Instant Coffee

I use to hate instant coffee but I came across Beaumont Instant Regular Coffee from Aldi and it exceeded my expectations. If I don’t have time to make French press — especially since I started work this week — I drink instant coffee.

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.