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.

April and May review

Welcome everyone to another Weekend Coffee Share! As always I like to feature some food (or dessert) that would go well with coffee. I went to this Matcha Cafe called Matcha Village in West LA a while back to try their Matcha Cheesecake. It’s somewhat a misnomer or maybe it’s a reconstructed cheesecake. So the matcha is not the cheese. It’s a regular cheesecake coated with a matcha mousse which is what you see on the outside. Very creative! The little gold flakes makes it very indulgent.

I missed writing an April review post, but before I begin reviewing my 21 in (20)21 post, I wanted to reflect do a “reverse” post. Look at at some of things I did over the past month that are not on the list. I organized a blog challenge called Eat around the World because I love food and travel. I would love to see posts of people sharing their special day dishes. My first post went live on June 1st for “Wedding cake…and other celebratory treats around the world.” I plan to write another post of another celebration — something less lavish than a wedding and more ordinary. Other celebrations deserve just as much love as a celebrating a wedding. Unfortunately this is next post is not something I’ve made either, but maybe the post after that.

Another thing is that lately my husband and I have been eating significantly LESS meat dishes. Sometimes we’ll go an entire week NOT eating meat dishes. It happened on accident because there was not enough room in our fridge to store food. My brother-in-law buys A LOT of food — though he insists the food in the fridge is meant for everyone to share. But the thing is, these are not food we normally would eat ourselves. My BIL has campaigned for larger fridge, but I told him that I don’t want a larger fridge until we have a kitchen remodel. In other words, it’s going to be a while. Anyways making and eating meatless dishes at home was not intentional, but I think it’s going to be the norm. It’s cheaper for my husband and me. Eating meat dishes will probably be considered “treats” at home like having ice cream and cookies and something reserved for dining out.

Anyways, here’s my 21 in (20)21 review:

Self-Love

1. Give myself a gift for Mother’s Day. Done. My gift was getting gardeners to install my plants for the front yard and jasmines to cover the backyard.

2. Start off my day reading the The Daily Stoic from January 1st to December 31st. I read The Daily Stoic occasionally.

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. This is going very strong. Actually last month, I did a read-a-thon with Bout of Books. I look forward to doing the next one in August. I also need to get around to updating my #Read21in21 page.

Home

4. Plant three herbs in front of the house… So far I have lavender in front of the house.

5. Work on Lana’s room which means cleaning up the office/storage room. Still decluttering. But I think this will be done this summer.

6. Move the shoe rack from the entry way in the coat closet. Done!

7 Have a large indoor plant for the entry way. Still entertaining the idea.

8 Get a credenza for the living room. Done!

9. Plant a tree for the front yard. Done!

10. Convert our little eight year old IKEA table into a kitchen island. Still entertaining the idea.

11. Reorganize the kitchen cabinets. Work in progress.

Finance

12. Save six months worth of living expenses. We’re cover in terms of just the mortgage but of course we need to consider food and other bills. It’s safe to say we are almost there all thank you aggressive saving.

13. Create monthly meal plans. Making a monthly meal plan has been helpful. Rather than buying groceries around certain recipes, I

14. Make our own baby food. done

Health

15. Improve my posture muscles at barre. Well something to focus on when exercising in general.

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. Done

Career

17. Apply for the Management Fellow Program at work. This opportunity doe not post until fall. But I did apply to the Administrative Internship program. It just opened up this week. I guess you can call it a “backup” and it’s a full-time paid internship.

Creativity/Other activities

18. Create an artistic display of our postcards. Still in progress

19. Finish a Duolingo course. Oh yeah…thanks for reminding me.

20. Organize my apps on my phone. I just install apps, but I should organize them into folders. When my husband tries to look for stuff on my phone, I get embarrassed because I know he has a hard time looking for anything.

21. Go on a major trip as a family. This is hard to say if this will happen since my vacation hours are very little. Nowadays a lot of my vacation hours are going towards going to a doctor’s appointment — either mine’s or Lana’s — or either of us are sick. Recently we went to San Diego, it was not really for a vacation. More like it’s been a while since we’ve seen family. Maybe we’ll squeeze something small like spend a weekend at the Mission Inn at Riverside or Santa Barbara. We have not quite decided. So no major out-of-state trip.

March Overview

For this weekend’s Coffee Share, let’s review my 21 in 2021 list. Oh yeah, get some alfajores!

3. I am still doing my #Read21in21. To be honest, I did not find a lot of good books in March. I was placed on the waitlist for a lot of the books I wanted to read and read whatever looked interesting. There were a lot I did not finish and panned midway. The ones that stood out for me was called Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 a play by Anna Deavere Smith — you can watch the performance on PBS. Another standout was The Kindest Lie: A Novel by Nancy Johnson.

8. Got a credenza for the living room! I got it from IKEA. More shelf space for our board games and books. We have dedicate a little bit of shelf space for Lana’s toys. But as you know, we are trying REALLY hard to not have too many toys for her. Anyways we love this Besta system from IKEA, we are thinking for installing more for our TV area.

14. Made baby food. I freeze the a lot of it into ice cubes trays. Right now we’re just introducing. So far I’ve pureed carrots, avocados, bananas, brown rice, green beans, and a broccoli potato blend. To be honest there were times it was tempting to cave into store bought baby food. Instead of researching for recipes, I should just start with my fridge. After all, the ingredients are incredibly minimal. It’s just carrots, water, and blend or green beans and water and blend.

There are a few projects I am working on in April. Though it may not be on my list, I do want to work on the patio area since the weather is getting better and I would like to spend my days at home sitting on my patio reading books, writing, and getting inspired. As much as I enjoy house projects, I do find them overwhelming leaving a lot of incomplete projects. I spend a lot of time researching and budgeting but it does not go anywhere beyond the planning stage. What does not help at all is if my husband or I don’t have a vision, it does not move forward at all. Take for example, I want to do a box garden: I spend a lot of time researching the type of wood to get to build it, to find out what to do and not to do, getting the right tools, etc. It’s been a project pending since we’ve moved into our house. A little part of me think it’s easier to just buy the box. I just feel over researching and project planning my weekends and whatever free time I have incredibly debilitating. I told my husband with these projects we have to sacrifice a few weekends in a row to actually complete the projects we want to complete. That means saying “no” invitations to social gatherings and weddings, etc. and I highly doubt that is something we want to do. The pandemic would have been an ideal time to take care of these projects, but I was pregnant for all of it and caring for a newborn.

The only plus side out of our indecision fatigue is that we just keep building up our savings. Also, I am so glad we did not buy a bigger house with a bigger lot. I don’t think I’d be able to care for it.

February Overview

If we were were having coffee, you’d notice that my husband and Lana are out for the morning. They’re going for a run along the beach. All I can say is “I am overwhelmed.” Not in a bad way though. It’s been ages since I’ve had the house to myself. I slept in and woke up at 7:30 AM and thought I’ll start off by making that milk bread recipe I’ve been meaning to do, write on my blog, finish folding laundry, change the bedsheets, spend 30 minutes decluttering the house, put together my tax stuff, etc.

We realized we need a more conscious effort in Lana bonding with my husband. Last Sunday, I stepped out to run some errands for an hour and Lana started crying. When I came home, she calmed down. We realized, just like the dogs, she prefers mom. I mean, I take her with me to work almost everyday for daycare. Also, I keep the stroller in my car so I do more walks with her. Yesterday when my husband got the day off, I had to remember to not take the car with the stroller and take the small car to work so he can take her out or take out the stroller if he wants to walk around the neighborhood. My husband works long hours at his regular job which has no daycare. In addition, he’s in the National Guard so he has to work one weekend per month plus the three weeks of annual training. Overall, he has significantly less time to spend with her. We have to look at each month when he can spend his days with her, and it’s not as much as we’d like. But I’ve learned that it’s not about the amount time spent, it’s the quality of time. Her version of quality time is simple, she appreciates the neighborhood walks and lunch outings.. She’s not demanding a trip to Disneyland.

In other news, my brother-in-law has a job. He started his training/orientation at his work yesterday. My husband gave him an ultimatum a few weeks back that since there was no progress over the last several months, he should move out in two weeks. Since then e actively looked for work and went to interviews, and finally he got a job. It may not be the job and/or salary he wanted, but now he’s productive. In the beginning, I told my husband “maybe he thinks our house is prison because we made him sit down in front of his computer looking for work.” I can’t believe it took a warning that we’d boot him out to get him to go, go, go.

Anyways, February overview. Let’s review my 21 in (20)21 list:

Self-Love

2. Start off my day reading the The Daily Stoic from January 1st to December 31st. 

I’ve missed a few days. I thought maybe it would better to read the following day the night before.

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. This is still going :-).

Home

8 Get a credenza for the living room.

I finally started shopping and looking around. I found it and placed an order. I scheduled it to be delivered in a couple of weeks since it is my free weekend.

Finance

12. Save six months worth of living expenses.

In progress

13. Create monthly meal plans.

Still going

14. Make our own baby food.

This happened. I made brown rice cereal and it’s a lot. I kept the rest in the freezer.

Health

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine.

I got both doses!

How did your February go?

A year in review: Reverse 20 in 2020 list

Even though I did not complete a lot of things on my 20 for 2020 list, I feel I did a lot over the past year. My days were go to work and go straight home. It was like that everyday of the week until I started maternity leave and my days were at home. I tried staying productive if I had the energy. Some days, especially during the final week of pregnancy, I wanted to “veg out.”

Here is my reverse 2020 list below:

  1. Gave birth and currently raising a baby
  2. Upgraded our backyard
  3. Hosted a housewarming for friends and family in January
  4. Exercised everyday during my pregnancy
  5. Graduated from my Master’s Program
  6. Worked everyday at the hospital during my pregnancy up to week 38…then I spent the last two weeks of my pregnancy working from home.
  7. Refinished the dining set to match our place
  8. Moved into a new office at work
  9. Handled the meal donations at my hospital throughout the pandemic
  10. Learned about my power. There is a saying that “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”…but I need to learn how to use it unapologetically.
  11. Made our volunteer orientation available online.
  12. Organized a cookie exchange with friends since we couldn’t do Friendsgiving/White Elephant this year.
  13. Increased our community partnerships at work
  14. Got a (mini) Christmas tree for the house
  15. Got a raise at work
  16. Practice meditation
  17. Crocheted a baby blanket
  18. Improved the volunteer on-boarding process by decreasing the lag times
  19. Voted in the 2020 election.
  20. Exercised everyday during my pregnancy

A year in review: 20 for (20)20

I was reviewing my 20 for (20)20 to see how many goals I completed for the year. I am sure I did not meet most of these goals. So let’s review:

(1) Visit 20 different museums, landmarks, or national parks. 

The majority of these places were from our Europe trip earlier this year. Let’s count, shall we?

Milan: Monza racetrack, Sforzesco Castle (2)

Paris: I’ve been to Paris back in 2005. For new landmarks on my second visit, I’ve been to: Tuileries Garden, Sacre Couer, Pantheon, Les Invalides, François-Mitterrand Library (5).

Angers: Chateau d’Angers, Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers (2)

Les Mans: Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1)

Saumur: Chateau de Saumur (1)

Munich: Marientplatz, Nymphenburg Palace, New Town Hall, Olympia Park, BMW Museum (5)

Rome: This is our second trip to Rome. New places: St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Temple of Vesta and Sybil (4)

It looks like I went to twenty landmarks during this trip alone. I guess this goal has been accomplished.

(2) Try 20 new restaurants. 

Most of these restaurants I did not dine in. A lot of them were takeout delivery through Postmates or through community donations to the hospital. The restaurants in asterisks indicate donated meals.

  1. Phillipe’s the Original
  2. La Bamba
  3. Millet Crepe
  4. Gus’ BBQ
  5. Villagio Deli
  6. Victory Caffe
  7. HomeState*
  8. The Original Coley’s Jamaican
  9. Fresh Grill Mediterranean
  10. Donatsu
  11. Azul Tequila
  12. Sweet Veggie*
  13. El Criollo Cuban Restaurant
  14. Mi Ranchito Veracruz
  15. Hecho en Mexico*
  16. Gilbert’s El Indio*
  17. Brothers Sandwich*
  18. La Monarca Bakery
  19. Sweet Greens
  20. Donut Friend

(3) Try 30 new recipes. I am sure I’ve exceeded this especially during December when I was experimenting with different cookie recipes.

(4) Do a 1-second video every day and stitch it into a short video. Nope I did not complete this one.

(5) Read and complete 20 different books. Nope did not complete. I only read and completed 12 books.

(6) Take 750 classes Pure Barre classes. Stretch goal: Reach to 1000 classes. 

Reached 750 classes.

(7) Add a chalkboard to the pantry door. Done

(8) Create an artistic display of our postcards. Did not complete

(9) Get up to 6 months of living expenses in our emergency fund. Did not complete.

(10) To not buy any clothes and accessories for the year. Complete

(11) Complete a perfect push-up. I’ve done it and I thank my husband for helping me with my form.

(12) Plant a tree for the front yard. Did not complete.

(13) Clean and dress up the parking strip. I may not have dressed the parking strip, but we did upgrade our backyard.

(14) Plant three herbs for the entryway. Not done. Will move this for next year.

(15) Make a wreath for the front door. Not done :-(.

(16) Do a power hour once per week. Done. But during maternity leave, power hour was everyday. It is a habit I will keep, but once I return to work, a once per week power hour is more sustainable.

(17) Bite the bullet and buy a domain for my blog. This has not been done.

(18) Get a new FitBit. Done

(19) Host three get-togethers with friends. 

We hosted one in-person get-together with friends this year and that was our housewarming in January. On New Year’s Eve, we did a virtual get-together. I guess that makes it two get-togethers.

(20) Send postcards to friends when I travel. 

Done!

Ten out of 20 goal — not too bad. Some of the things I did not accomplish from last year moved over to my goals for this year. I placed a focus on decluttering our home. There are some goals I reframed. For example, instead of saying “read and completed 20 books” I changed it to “read 21 minutes a day.” If there is a book I don’t like, I won’t drag myself to finish it. I’ll just move on to the next book. We’ll see how many books I read and finish for this year.

Did you accomplish your goals in 2020?

21 in (20)21

I guess my word for 2021 is “Declutter.” I feel we are finally settled in our house after the remodel. We’ve accumulated stuff over the years from past apartments and they never quite found “homes” around the house.

At one point, one room was just storage and the other room was my office where I did school and creative projects. Now with my brother-in-law moved in, one room is now both the storage and the office space. And now with the baby, we need to make that storage room/office space into a bedroom. It’s not going to be immediate, but she will move in. I strongly don’t believe in buying a home with more rooms. As someone who has lived in a large home in the suburbs, it just means a larger vessel to store more random crap.

I think “Declutter” is an appropriate word to define my new year. A lot of my goals are oriented towards getting rid of stuff (i.e. physical stuff, time sucking hobbies, things dragging down my happiness) to make room for fewer, better things.

Anyways, here are my my 21 things for 2021.

Self-Love

1. Give myself a gift for Mother’s Day. I’ve worked many thankless jobs and I think motherhood is the most thankless at all. It’s also the job where I encounter the most people one upping each other making it even more thankless. It’s emotionally and mentally exhausting. On top of that, discussing baby rearing with other people has quickly become a dick measuring contest if you breastfeed vs. formula feed, how much stuff you buy for the baby, enrolling in courses, etc. I guess giving myself a gift is my way to telling myself that my parenting is more than enough. In terms of gifts, I’m pretty simple. Maybe a large package of spin classes will do.

2. Start off my day reading the The Daily Stoic from January 1st to December 31st. There were a few days where I read the The Daily Stoic in the final few weeks of pregnancy. I read each passage at the end of the day when I should really read it at the beginning of the day — maybe before work or during lunch time?

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. I am not sure how to define this. I definitely do want to set sometime to read for myself everyday. I also want to read everyday for Lana. Do I read 21 minutes for myself and 21 minute for Lana? Then again, a lot of books for babies are picture books with very few words. It takes minutes to complete but I spend my time describing and going over the pictures with her even though she does not understand me yet.

Home

4. Plant three herbs in front of the house… I want to be intentional of which herbs to plant…namely herbs we use all the time.

5. Work on Lana’s room which means cleaning up the office/storage room. This is a large undertaking because we have a lot books and files. We need to be creative in moving stuff around or just getting rid of it.

6. Move the shoe rack from the entry way in the coat closet. We have a lot of shoes in the entryway and we do not wear all of them on a regular basis. I only wear two shoes daily (boots and sneakers). To avoid a trip hazard, it’s best to move the shoes we normally don’t wear in the coat closet.

7 Have a large indoor plant for the entry way. As you can see I want to clean up the entryway.

8 Get a credenza for the living room.

9. Plant a tree for the front yard.

10. Convert our little eight year old IKEA table into a kitchen island.

11. Reorganize the kitchen cabinets.

Finance

12. Save six months worth of living expenses

13. Create monthly meal plans. I think this would be a lot of fun to do. I’ve always been creative in making meals based on whatever is in my fridge. Because we have a baby, I feel we do need to meal plan throughout the week and make sure we have enough leftovers for lunch the following day. I intend to release my monthly meal plans at the beginning of each month on the blog.

14. Make our own baby food.

Health

15. Improve my posture muscles at barre. Mostly this is focusing on keeping my shoulders down.

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. One of the first things I’ll do when I return to work.

Career

17. Apply for the Management Fellow Program at work.

Creativity/Other activities

18. Create an artistic display of our postcards. This is from last year’s list. I do have something in mind. I thought I would have maternity leave to put something together but I got occupied in other things. My friends and I decided to organize a virtual craft day. This would be perfect for that project.

19. Finish a Duolingo course.

20. Organize my apps on my phone. I just install apps, but I should organize them into folders. When my husband tries to look for stuff on my phone, I get embarrassed because I know he has a hard time looking for anything.

21. Go on a major trip as a family. This is a reach assuming COVID dies down by then.

What are your goals for 2021? Share below!

“Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.”

Melody Beattie

20 for (20)20

I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Happier.” by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft going over their 19 for (20)19. I usually love making lists of things to do, but for the last few years my head was in a fog, and I never got around to writing them. I am sure my list that exists in my head is infinite, but yet I want to get around doing it now. Listening to this episode reinvigorated me to write my 20 in (20)20 list to make my new year fun.

Since I did not create a 19 for 20(19) list, I think I’ll create a reverse 19 for 20(19)  to reflect on the 19 things I did.

Anyways, here is my 20 in 20(20) list.

  1. Visit 20 different museums, landmarks, or national parks. 
  2. Try 20 different restaurants. This includes dessert places, food stands, and food trucks. Since I am going to be out of the country in February, for the sake of fairness, I’ll keep it local — within Los Angeles County.
  3. Try 30 new recipes. Since I finished school, I’ve got more time to be creative.
  4. Do a 1-second video every day and stitch it into a short video. I heard about the 1 Second Everyday App on the podcast. It reminds me of the one photo a day challenge. We will see how I keep up
  5. Read and complete 20 different books. I’ve got plenty of books I’ve started and have not yet completed.
  6. Take 750 classes Pure Barre classes. Stretch goal: Reach to 1000 classes. When we had to stay elsewhere during the home remodel, my barre attendance plummeted. Now since we moved back, I am slowly building back to a regular schedule.
  7. Add a chalkboard to the pantry door. I am not sure if we should paint the door with chalkboard paint and put a frame on it ala “Friends” or make an actual chalkboard.
  8. Create an artistic display of our postcards. We get postcards from friends, family, and Postcrossing. I collect postcards too. They are stored in a box, and they deserve to be out.
  9. Get up to 6 months of living expenses in our emergency fund. Self-explanatory. A lot of our savings went to our home remodel. It is better to have a definitive emergency fund goal, rather than just save for the sake of savings. There were times where I felt tethered. We exceeded our savings goal, and we never bit the bullet for almost anything. People have a funny interaction with money. Which leads me to my next point, we need to have a definition of what constitutes an “emergency.”
  10. To not buy any clothes and accessories for the year. The only clothing items I would buy are underwear, socks, shoes, and workout clothes. I have a small shoe collection which consists of walking shoes, one pair of fashion boots, two professional shoes which I keep in the office, one pair of sandals, and two pairs of hiking boots. I walk on average 10,000-12,000 steps a day. I have a fair wardrobe of workout wear, and I wear them until they’re worn out.
  11. Complete a perfect push-up.
  12. Plant a tree for the front yard. Don’t forget, keep it alive too.
  13. Clean and dress up the parking strip.
  14. Plant three herbs for the entryway.
  15. Make a wreath for the front door.
  16. Do a power hour once per week. I am obsessed with the idea of power hour. It’s an hour where I tackle all the non-routine things I’ve been meaning to do such as organizing the cabinets, doing our finances, cleaning the inside of the refrigerator, etc. I had a hard time doing a power hour in my previous job because I was working all the time. On my days off, my power hour was more like a power nap.
  17. Bite the bullet and buy a domain for my blog.
  18. Get a new FitBit — My Charge 2 is at the end of its life. The heart rate monitor feature no longer works. I can’t believe I’ve had it for four years!
  19. Host three get-togethers with friends. Maybe we will even get to host Friendsgiving this year.
  20. Send postcards to friends when I travel. Bonus: Send holiday greeting cards in December.

What is your 20 in (20)20?

Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)

First I want to say, this has been an awesome stomach-churning World Series between the Dodgers and the Astros. I did hope for a long series and they are certainly delivering. The games are running past my bedtime throwing off my daily schedule, but it’s been so exciting!

Ahh yes, my travel series is almost over. This week’s theme is “My Travel Bucket List.” I apologize for my post pre-maturely published earlier today, I was not quite done yet. Yikes! It was a brain dump! Plus I’ve been distracted watching the World Series.

Here is my bucket list of travel activities:

  1. Go on an African Safari
  2. Go to a country on the otherside of the equator — ahh so many choices!
  3. Go to the 24 Hour Le Mans race (my husband’s idea)
  4. Go to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. My husband said there’s also a car race too.
  5. Go to a Christmas Market in Europe
  6. Camp out in a foreign country
  7. Go to Greece — because it has been on my lifelong thing to do since high school
  8. Another lifelong dream is to see the Northern Lights. I hope we get to see some in November.
  9. Go to all 50 states — so far I’ve been to 23.
  10. Take a trip on the Trans-Siberian railway
  11. …and finally, create a scrapbook of all my travel experiences and tips. Of course it will be volume 1 followed by volume 2 and so on. As of now, a lot of my experiences are floating around different notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. One day, I’d like to set some time to compile them all in one place.

What is your on your travel bucketlist?

Tahoe 2014

Tahoe, 2014

Read more posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1: Your Favorite Travel Photo of You and Intro
Week 2: Little Known Travel Tips
Week 3: Funny Travel Story
Week 4: Travel Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual Travel Activities and Photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: 5 Favorite Blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting travel stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in my backpack?
Week 12: Happy and Sad Travel Stories
Week 13: Unique Cultures Encountered 

Week 14: Top 3 Travel Destinations
Week 15: Travel Regrets
Week 16: Scary and Cool Travel Stories
Week 17: Things to Purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Travel Confessions

Who else is doing the challenge?

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

August/September Breakdown, October goals

I did not get to review August goals nor did I put together a September goal post last month, but I am going to still recap and feature a few photos from the past month!

20170929_194138.jpgVan Nuys Art Festival

August goals in review:

  1. Get an indoor plant. Completed. I bought several throughout August and September
  2. Complete Phase III of the Pergola project — move and reuse the concrete to provide drainage to our pavers. Did not complete. It looks like due to the hot, hot weather, our pergola project won’t be completed in time for November. Thankfully, we won’t be having Friendsgiving at our house.
  3. Complete 300 classes at Pure Barre – Completed on August 30th.

    20170905_093330.jpg
    Yay! 300 celebration for me!
  4. Create a flower bed – This is in progress. I hope this week I get to complete my first flower bed!

September re-cap:

I did not put together any goals but that does not mean I did not hit any milestones:

  1. Started my interview series for Motivation Monday featuring bloggers who work full-time jobs. It’s wonderful reminder we work to live, not the other way around; they are dreamers and love to pursue things in life that are meaningful. It’s refreshing to meet fellow bloggers from the around the wold who hustle like me.
  2. I turned 30!! 
  3. Decluttering – I’ve been on a purge. After more than 2 years living in the our house, we unpacked some boxes and gave our stuff “homes” around the house. We always thought “well we are going to remodel this place anyways” which is why we did not unpack. But we haven’t decided when because remodelling is expensive. For the past year, we saved like crazy, went on a wallet diet, rented our spare room to save up to get our electrical updated. In the meantime, instead of having our stuff in limbo, let’s make our house look like a home. This meant letting go of a lot of things we accumulated over the years. Which leads me to…
  4. Got rid of my car – After 7 years good years, I let go of my car which means 1 less car in the drive way.
  5. Threw in the brakes – I threw in the brakes for the sake of my mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. For a long, long time my mind was in a fog. I was not sure when it started but I thought it would go away on its own but it did not. I was constantly apologizing for not feeling present. I took action to break away from my mind fog in many ways from taking more vacations, writing this blog, filling out my planner, spending less hours in the office, do more research on thriving. I am happy to say in September the fog has cleared.
  6. Created a “joy list” – I visit this list frequently to give me ways on how to make my day better. It’s funny how eating ice cream makes all the difference.DSC_7913.jpg

Sequoia

My top posts for September:

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October Goals:

  1. Finish the first flower bed
  2. Fill my daily planner with no more than 6 things — up to 3 goals for work, 3 goals for personal.
  3. Complete the my City Slicker Hiking Challenge. As of today, I need to complete 10 more hikes by the end of this month!
  4. Hang all our art in our house — I’ve been meaning to do this since we first moved to our house. What stopped us was we had plans to remodel but we never got to it because of the cost. It’d be better to have our house build equity and use that equity to remodel. If say, when we hang all our art in the house and remodelling happens tomorrow, that’s ok. At least our house felt more like a home than a rental.

The Real Neat Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for another award by Benjamin Lessard for the Real Neat Blog Award. Thank you so much for the honor! Please come by and check out his blog. He writes far beyond his years. When I was 15, I vaguely wrote about crushes, gossip and a lot about school. A very unhealthy amount about school assignments from Shakespeare to Steinbeck, trigonometry to calculus. I took French in high school and to practice my French, I wrote some posts in French. A lot of my classmates also wrote on blogs (remember Xanga?) and it was all those same subjects too and of course, grades and college acceptances.

For Ben, he writes with a lot of insight and observations and he even writes poetry! Keep up the great work, Ben!

real neat blog award

Here are the rules for the “Real Neat Blog Award”

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
3. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc).
6. Ask your nominees 7 questions.

Answering Benjamin’s questions:

1. What is the main reason as to why you started blogging?

Since 15 years old, I’ve been blogging on and off. Unfortunately as soon as I hit college, I pretty much stopped blogging all throughout my college years because I knew all I was going to do is talk more about school. In retrospect, I should have still written a blog even if at the time it would be signficantly less posts. I restarted when I was 22 and had a blog for a few years and stopped. Now I am rebooting the blog again and I hope it stays. Building a supportive community definitely keeps me around!

2. Explain one personality trait that gets you into trouble sometimes.

Stubborness.

3. What is your proudest accomplishment?

When I changed careers.

4. Who inspires you?

This may sound corny, but my dogs and my husband. As soon as I come home after a long day and see them, all my stresses to my day melts away. They center me. We don’t talk about work; we make and eat dinner , watch TV, plan for the next event/trip/whatever. When people ask me, “how do I do it all?” I tell them, “I’ve got dogs and a husband.”


5. If you could have chosen a profession other than your own, what would it be?

Another silly answer, an actress! I’ve had friends and classmates push this idea for years. When I was in my senior year of college applying for full-time jobs for my post-graduation plans, I’d get asked “If you don’t get into any full-time jobs, would you consider acting?” My logical head rejected the idea and thought, “I’m graduating with a neuroscience degree…to become an actress?” Growing up I’ve done my fair share of theatre, but I never considered it a full-time career. At the time there was not a lot of Asian representation in the entertainment industry and that was a big turn-off for me. If there are any Asians who are seriously considering a career as a actor, now is a good time. Earlier this year were worldwide open casting calls for “Crazy Rich Asians” because they were looking to encourage more Asians to get into acting. They realize there’s not a lot of Asian actors out there and that’s refreshing.

6. What item is at the top of your “bucket list”?

See the Northern Lights.

Definitely not the Northern Lights! This was a light show in Santa Monica back in 2008. This picture was taken with a flip phone!

7. Share with us your favorite author?

There’s so many but let’s stick my old favorite, Cormac McCarthy. The first book I read was All The Pretty Horses back in senior year of high school. Other work are The Road, No Country for Old Men, and Blood Meridian. Another author I like is Ken Kesey — I love One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

My nominations go to…

  1. Something to Ponder About
  2. Simply Kailin
  3. Rose Hunter
  4. The World is a Book
  5. Writing for Me

My seven questions to you are…

  1. Why did you decide to have a blog?
  2. What is your most proud accomplishment?
  3. I’m hosting a potluck, what dish would you bring?
  4. What do you when you are not blogging?
  5. Where are you from, and what is the most common stereotype or misconception about your home town/state/country?
  6. Name three, free things that bring you joy?
  7. Would you rather live in a big city or the rural countryside forever?

July Breakdown, August Goals

One of my favorite parts of the month is to write about my reflections and goals for the following month. It keeps me accountable. I also love reading other people’s goals because it inspires me to do the same. Also I’ll be featuring a couple of photos from the beautiful Le Cuvier winery when we went to Paso Robles earlier this month. Other than the views and cute details, Le Cuvier wines take the top 5 spot on my list.

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View from Le Cuvier Winery

July Goals in review:

  1. Complete Phase III of the Pergola project — move and reuse the concrete to provide drainage to our pavers. Incomplete.
  2. Complete a craft project. Completed. I made this beautiful cookie box for my friend’s wedding last week. But I don’t have a picture. I was baking, baking, baking all week for the wedding and I finally went around to making the cookie box on Friday night and went to bed. On the morning of the wedding I dropped off the madeleine dishes and the cookie box to the venue manager and I did not see that box again.
  3. Organize my “Current Reads” page – Complete. I look forward to starting bi-monthly series on books I’ve read. I am still figuring out the format of my reviews though.
  4. Work on the guest room Complete. It came in handy last week when my in-laws were spontaneously in town. This guest room is nothing fancy. It’s just a bed for now and it is taking occupancy at our now spare room.

Other things accomplished in July:

  1. I created a Facebook page for this blog! I’ve been debating whether or not to create a Facebook page. Please bear with me, I am still figuring how to work this out. If you have a Facebook page for your blog, please let me know. I’ll like it too!
  2. Spent an afternoon at the spa. We went to a Korean spa in Koreatown and it was my husband’s first time there. We had these long-expired Groupons we redeemed. Why did we decided to finally go? This past month felt like a marathon — and gladly we both have that marathon mind-set…but that does not mean we deserve to rest and restore once in a while. From our trip to Paso Robles, we did not feel rejuvenated like we’ve done in previous getaways. Maybe it was the sun, the heat, the alcohol. Maybe this is what happens when you go on vacation and you constantly talk about work. Not quite the perfect getaway. This local spa trip was definitely what we needed even if it means lounging around the saunas. Here are the benefits of going to a Korean spa it’s relatively cheaper than going to other spas.
  3. Added lights to our back patio — this is a wonderful addition to having more outdoor get-togethers.
  4. Clearing out the weeds and dead plants in the front yard – Though we did not finish phase III of the Pergola project, we’ve been clearing out the front yard. Those weeds have been an ongoing battle since we’ve bought the house. Another factor to why these weeds keep coming back is we did not have a vision for our front yard. With no plan that means weeds keep winning the battle. The weeds are cleared out in the flower bed in the driveway for now. My husband has an idea but it requires phases, time, materials, and of course, money. I am in support of it, but I would rather at least put a weed barrier, soil, and flowers in the mean time.

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Le Cuvier winery

My top posts for July:

Books read in July:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place – The Art of Being Messy by Jennifer McCartney

Wow, I read more than I expected this month! These were on my stacks for a while. I am glad I am working these through.

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Le Cuvier winery

August goals:

  1. Get an indoor plant. I’ve been meaning to do this home project for a while now to help freshen up the house.
  2. Complete Phase III of the Pergola project — move and reuse the concrete to provide drainage to our pavers. I confess, it is a drag when it lags.
  3. Complete 300 classes at Pure Barre – This is really pushing it. I am trying to do 300 classes before I turn 30 on September 2nd. But I will be out-of-town starting September 1st. As of 7/31, I am at 278 classes.
  4. Create a flower bed – Continuing on from July’s project of clearing out the weeds in the flower bed, I would like to at least start something rather than wait until we have the funds to pursue a more time and resource-intensive project. We just need a weed barrier, soil, and of course plants. There is a possibility we could change the edging material.

July has been fun but busy. Last week, I was running. I had conversations, I heard things but it went out the other ear. In August, I vow to explore more self-care and I anticipate it will be an ongoing thing. I am not sure what self-care would mean for me. Would it mean do less multi-tasking, say “no” more often, sleep more, hike more despite the ridiculously hot weather, go to a Korean spa more frequently? I’m not sure…there’s so many choices.