Covered in paint from head to toe

If you come to my house for coffee, you’ll probably find me all covered in paint from head to toe but that’s because I’ve been painting my kid’s room. I know I paid someone to paint Lana’s room a couple of weeks ago, but there’s this one wall in Lana’s room that was not painted and it’s a plywood wall that scream the 1950s. This house was all built in 1953 after all. I was not sure if I wanted to keep the plywood wall or replace it with drywall. The painter said if I were to put drywall, he can come back another time to paint that wall for free. But after much thought, I decided to keep it but I’m going to paint it myself. Over the past week, I’ve cleaned, repaired some of the panels, spackled, filled gaps, and sanded. Today is the day for priming and painting. Working on the plywood wall is more work than painting the drywall. I can’t imagine how much more the painter would have charged me.

Continue reading Covered in paint from head to toe

DIY vs. Delegate

This is the weekend I finally catch up on sleep. My husband came back from training — which was a relief. But of course he’s catching up on sleep this weekend because he’s going back to work to his regular job on Monday. I’ll admit the last two weeks were difficult — especially when Lana was sick and then I was sick. When my husband is away, I like to use that time to work on a bunch of projects — it could be an art project to display in the dining room, plant something in the front yard, etc. But lately I’ve been too tired to do basic things.

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A Heavy declutter weekend

It’s great day to have a coconut sundae! Yup, I am still writing about ice cream for my July “Eat Around the World” challenge. Don’t be intimidated by how indulgent it looks. It’s less of a sugar bomb compared to the ice cream sandwich I had the other day.

I can’t wait to share the other ice creams I’ve had this past month! I even made a couple of ice cream popsicles.

Continue reading A Heavy declutter weekend

Looking for peacocks

Today we went to the Arboretum in Arcadia looking for peacocks. Last time we went was winter time when they had their holiday lights up for Moonlight Forest. It’s my first time exploring the place in the daytime and I underestimated how large the place. We definitely did not cover all the park because Lana was ready to rest. We’ll definitely be back to explore the other gardens. I saw some wonderful ideas for groundcover for my front yard.

Peacock hanging out in the shade

It was a nice day. We ended the afternoon with a late lunch at a Chinese restaurant and had some milk tea to cool off.

I’m in the process of planning our kitchen remodel. Even though the remodeling will not happen right away, it’s always best to start off with a plan and vision. Plus, we need to budget on how much it will end up costing. I came across this blog post on how to get started.

Step 1 says to “Write your renovation vision in 3-5 words.” So far I only came up with one word to describe the kitchen and it’s “global” because I like eating food from around the world. I need to come up with 2-4 more words. Right now I am stuck step 1.

Step 2 is already done. Step 2 says to “Write how you want to feel using a few words.” I credit my husband for this and the feeling should be “My favorite place to eat.” I agree…it should be my favorite place to eat because I experiment with all kinds of food.

I’ll move on with the rest of the steps this week. We have some elements we would like to include for our kitchen like a large single basin, tiles for the backsplash, etc. I have a love/hate relationship with remodeling. There is fun in looking at different tiles and colors, but it can be overwhelming with how many choices there are. Plus the cost of remodeling! It makes me glad that my husband and I stuck with a $10,000 budget for our wedding. Yes, I credit that because imagine if that debt carried over the next several years?

#weekendcoffeeshare

Ice cream around the world (and June recap)

Wow, it’s July already!

I had a lot of fun sharing some celebration themed treats in June. I shared my treats celebrating my wedding, the middle of the week (hump day), and when my husband’s first Father’s Day. I even made a cake with layers. I saved some cake scraps from the matcha cake and made some cake truffles. It’s very simple: break the cake scraps into crumbs, mix it with a little bit of leftover frosting, roll it in a ball, and freeze. After it’s set, melt some chocolate and roll the truffles in chocolate. It’s incredibly rich. I should have added toppings like almond or coconut shreds or white chocolate chips for better presentation. Also, I should learn how to temper chocolate for a shinier, smoother finish.

matcha chocolate cake truffle pop

Thank you Liz from One Million Photographs for sharing your dish celebrating the welcoming of summer with a crab dinner from Pike’s Place.

Anyways for the theme Ice Cream — my favorite dessert! I eat it frequently because it’s so darn hot where I live in the summertime I’ve had some ice cream kicks on my blog sharing some of the interesting ice cream flavors we have all around Los Angeles. Here are a few I’ve had:

I look forward to also using my ice cream maker. This month should not be too hot to make ice cream.

What kind of ice cream flavors or textures can we find in your part of the world? Participating in “Eat around the the World” is easy! You can either comment here to submit your entry or pingback to this post. Cooking skills are not required to participate! You can also use the tag, “Eat Around the World.” Deadline to participate is July 31st.

The August theme is already set for Tomatoes. I look forward to playing with that theme in seeking out tomato themed dishes and making some myself. I would love expand my use of tomatoes beyond putting on a salad or a sandwich. September is still TBD so I decided to make a poll (viewable on browser not on the WordPress reader app for some reason).

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. July’s theme is ice cream. All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

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

No…I do not want your sloppy seconds

I understanding preparing for a baby can be expensive. It is tempting to accept all the free stuff you can take, however, I’ve had a lot of terrible experiences with inheriting second hand stuff. As much as I want to think people are coming from a good place, the truth is I find it is an excuse for them to buy newer, shinier stuff when I too have the funds to buy new myself.

I find we have to deal with the hassle of getting rid of the second hand stuff as soon as we get it. One time I got a Christmas tree and decoration to only find out most of the parts were broken. We tossed it and decided maybe that year was not the year we finally decorated our house of the holidays. Besides we enjoyed our tradition of exploring other places to enjoy holiday decorations.

We also have to deal with the hassle of repairing items too. My sister-in-law gave us a washer and dryer. The condition for the most part is usable, but occasionally, the washer leaks. This is the reason why I don’t want to inherit their “perfectly good” fridge because who knows what problems will come up once we take it. I pride in our “old fashion” white box because we kept ours in great condition after having it for many years.

I had a roommate back in college who always liked to pick up stuff she found on the sidewalk on the way back home. Her treasure finds tend to come with pests.

Look, I am not against receiving used items. I have inherited many items from my parents and grandparents that been in optimal condition. I was taught to keep my stuff in good shape. When the time comes when I want to give it away, I want in good conscience to know whatever I am giving something away where it does fall apart upon arrival. It’s just messed up to give away stuff because you want something newer and shinier.

With a baby on the way, the only things I am willing to take are clothes, bed sheets, swaddle cloths, and books. I don’t want to following and here are my reasons:

  • Toys: I was not intending on having lots of toy for the baby especially if it does not benefit the baby beneficially. Also, I see in the future I’ll be doing all the work where I get rid of the toys.
  • Walkers: There will absolutely be no walkers in the house. Besides walkers impede on needed muscle building a baby needs to crawl and eventually walk.
  • Furniture like pack-n-plays, cribs, drawers: If it falls apart, how are we going to return it?
  • Car seat and stroller: See reasons above. It’s a safety thing too.
  • Mattress: I don’t know why people think it is okay to just give away a mattress. I’ve inherited mattresses that came in terrible conditions like the spring popped up. The worst was getting bed bugs. Inheriting baby mattress sound disgusting too because there was previously pee, poo, barf, and who knows what. Plus newborns need firm mattresses not used mattresses that get softer with time.

Besides, if let’s say I have “saved so much money” it is not like the monies I saved went towards a vacation or home remodeing project. “Free” stuff does not give me peace of mind if it falls apart. The broken Christmas decorations and the faulty washing machine were relatively low-risk, we were not in any real danger. The used mattress with the bedbugs and pests from my roommate’s sidewalk finds were probably the worst I’ve experienced out of free stuff. We went through cycles of fumigation, homeopathic remedies, and cleaning our clothes and did it all over again. But were adults who worked it out. Based on my collective experiences with second hand items, I don’t want to put my baby (or anybody’s baby) the problems I dealt with.

What is your take on secondhand baby items? Or secondhand items in general? Comment below!

#weekendcoffeeshare: Remodeling Reality

If we were having coffee, it would be at my house. I apologize for the mess. We’ve had builders for the last few days remodeling the bathroom. Check out the paint samples I picked up at Home Depot for the bathroom walls. I find it impressive that I grabbed as many color samples in five minutes. I narrowed it down to these few for the bathroom. Would you like to take a guess which one I ultimately picked?

The bathroom remodel is part one of many remodeling projects in the house. The ETA of the finished home is…a few months.

I’ve been documenting the bathroom remodel it on my Instagram stories. It is better and more real than any HGTV show out there. I am surprised to get a lot of engagement around our home remodel journey. I was worried about oversharing and dragging it on and on. But then I told myself, “eff it.” People share all their stages in planning a wedding and pregnancy through social media all the time and it drags. Sometimes I feel they were engaged for five years and pregnant for two years — which neither true. Thus, I think it is perfectly fine to share my stages in house remodeling.

House remodeling kind of comes off as a mystery to a lot of people. Those who are thinking about remodeling ask me, “how do you go about that?” The truth is, it depends on what you want done to the house. You need to interview as many contractors as possible and talk to as many people as you can who have remodeled. Also, read just about everything you can around construction so you have talking points to your next contractors.

Then there are people who enjoy watching HGTV and think they are home remodeling experts. When we first got our house, people were making references to various HGTV shows and how we should be remodeling. Just like any media, HGTV is completely unrealistic in terms of timeline and budget. My stories would be an opportunity to show people remodeling reality. On HGTV, those expeditious timelines are attributed by builders working all the time and around the clock to meet the deadline for TV. The rushed job compromises their quality. In real life, the remodel is not “just build.” There are permits, inspections, financing, and shopping for the materials. You can’t cram that on a TV show.

State of the yard

Welcome to homeownership. I’ve been meaning write about homeowner life and the projects around it. It’s a lot of work and we DIY quite a bit.

Last month my goal was to build a pergola in the backyard but this project requires a lot of steps. I thought it was pull weeds and add pavers. But we found a large part of the backyard has concrete below the a few inches of dirt. The last owners did an awful job with the concrete which is why we need to get rid of it too, not just the weeds.

Gladly, we invested in renting a drill for a day to break up and move the concrete in the yard. We can repurpose concrete for other things in the future. It was the best 70 dollars spent ever.
We also learned we need to slope the backyard away from the house. Right now the yard is sloped to the house and it’s bad because when it rains, it would ruin the foundation over time. We need to reslope so water can go away from the house and feed into the river.

Weeds, concerte, dirt.

This pergola project requires more steps.

Welcome to homeownership.

Home Decor finds

Happy Sunday everyone!

I went to Home Goods after barre class. I’ve been meaning to purchase a few home decor items to face-lift a couple rooms. It’s funny how a few items makes a difference.

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I found this gorgeous table tray to place on our coffee table in our living room.

A few week back, my husband had a lock tight bottle on the dining room table that leaked. There’s this spot on the table where the varnish was removed. At least our table is second hand from Craiglist. A great quick fix is to purchase a tablecloth and a runner. Also I finally get to pull out a table tray I purchased a while back to hold condiments and candles on the dining table. Here’s to adult purchases!

Pineapple “whip”

What do you do with leftover bananas? You freeze them and make some fake “ice cream” made out of bananas. It’s better known as “nice cream”.

The base is always banana to make it creamy and sweet plus a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk to make it smooth and blended. From there,  you can add fruit or matcha tea or chocolate chips for different flavor.

I’ve been doing nice cream for a while. It’s been an obsession as of lately. Now I must always have bananas in the kitchen for those impromptu moments when I want ice cream. Since its getting warmer,  that means all the time!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 4 cups of frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup (plus a few teaspoons) of coconut milk

Place them all in the blender to blend until smooth.

Enjoy immediately. Feel free to pile it up and not feel guilty like you would with regular ice cream.