Starting the New Year off with a vacation!

If we were having coffee we’d probably be sharing — yes, sharing! — this cup of coffee. This is an $11 latte — the most expensive cup of coffee I’ve ever purchased. They recommended the mocha, but I’d imagine it would be even more expensive. The barista explained that they make their own chocolate or something like that. There were no prices posted on menu so I was price-shocked when I was about to pay at the counter. Was this latte worth the price tag? Unfortunately, no. But the coffee shop was beautiful.

Continue reading Starting the New Year off with a vacation!

The Little things

Last week I lamented how self-care is hard but I also did want to touch light on the small easy things that invigorated me over the past year. Again, I still don’t consider it self-care but I did not mean that they were too small to make a difference because they do feel good. So here are the “little things” that invigorated me:

Continue reading The Little things

Winding down for the year

It’s December already. For some reason, I feel excited that we are in the last month of the year. Maybe because I work at a university, I feel the mood is winding down because the term is ending. Decembers in my last job at the hospital would feel like a rush because we would scramble around looking for volunteers to help with patient services, help out with special events, decorate, etc. But since a lot of volunteers are students they’re either back home in their home state (or country) or on vacation so we’d always run short of help.

Continue reading Winding down for the year

The Four day New Year’s weekend

Happy Weekend Coffee Share and Happy New Year! It’s been an eventful three weeks: I was sick throughout Christmas weekend (tested negative for COVID), my husband was sick as well (tested negative for COVID), BIL #2 was sick through Christmas to after New Year’s (he had COVID), and two of my coworkers had COVID and were out for 10 days. We were so so so short-staffed at my office over the last two weeks.

Continue reading The Four day New Year’s weekend


The last Weekend Coffee Share of the year! I have to say, I’m surprised I kept up this blog the whole year. If anything, this blog has helped me process through a lot of difficult moments. In addition to Weekend Coffee Share, I participate in the Photographing Public Art Challenge, the Lens-Artists Photography Challenge, and the monthly #whatsonyourbookshelf. I created a new series on my blog such as “Eat Around the World” where I explore and play with different food themes — I always wanted to incorporate more food posts on my blog. Once in a while, I like to play armchair sociologist where I write about being Asian-American and share some of my observations. I even created a separate blog called “Lana at the Library” where we document Lana’s library haul.

Continue reading (Re)Invigorate

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:


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.


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.


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


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

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. Done


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:


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 :-).


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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