Abundance: More than just stuff

Note: Another long hard post about Asian-American identity how it has affected my life and how I’ve come to acknowledge my privilege. These are just my observations as I am not an expert on the field but rather more like a “student of life who is always willing to learn.

I’ve been meaning to write about this post for quite some time. Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. It’s ironic how I am releasing this post the day after Thanksgiving — the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States.

Continue reading Abundance: More than just stuff

Exhausted and disillusioned

I finally made it to the end of the week and why did its arrival feel so freaking slow?! It’s been quite a week and I could not wait for it end! Well as of last Friday, my husband was off for two weeks for military training. Over that past weekend, I was working on Lana’s room — decluttering and reorganizing. Then…well let’s break this week past week down:

Continue reading Exhausted and disillusioned

I hate the “P” word

As promised I will write about Asian American identity and the ways it has affected my life and how I’ve come to acknowledge my privilege.

The “P” word I am referring to is “privilege.” It started as this incredibly long post, but I decided to cut this up. I wanted to posit the question, what should one do when they’re told to “check their privilege?”

I have noticed throughout my 20s and 30s, I’ve been told to “check my privilege.” This feedback has been more frequent the older I got, even over the more “simple” things like me being comically frugal is considered a privilege. When people tell me to “check at my privilege,” I’m not quite sure what to do other than say “okay” and shrug it off. Should I also give you money and my degrees? Should I feel awful about myself every time I go into my office job that pays the bills? Should I feel bad about making healthier lifestyle choices (i.e. exercising, eating fruits and veggies, etc) because it’s an “expensive lifestyle?”

I am very well aware of my privilege and I want to use it to make the world a better place. I work in a large public hospital where we provide healthcare whether or not these patients carry insurance. We are also a hub where we do a bi-monthly food pantry feeding patients and community members experiencing food insecurity. At my work, I use it as an opportunity to teach aspiring healthcare workers the importance of patient advocacy. Care does not only happen within the four walls of a clinic, they should care about what happens to them outside too. Do these patients have access to hygiene products, affordable housing, healthy food, etc.?

I left my last job because I did not feel we did enough for the older adults living in affordable housing. We did a lot more for the older adults living in market rate housing and I found it incredibly frustrating because it conflicted with the organization’s mission.

Telling me to “check my privilege” is hardly, if at all, an action. I never understood it. Are they coming from a place where they want help or are they just being mean-spirited?

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.

What a week!

Happy weekend everyone! And I have to say, I could not wait until this week was over. This week was incredibly unpredictable life-wise. So how did this week go for me?

Sunday: After much discussion, we decided to buy a new (used) car. One of my husband’s brothers was interested in getting our car so my husband was putting in new parts to prepare the car to only come across something that was beyond his skillset. So I called a mechanic to come over to take a look. We did not want to go through the trouble of getting a tow if there was a mobile mechanic in our neighborhood. Unfortunately he was unavailable to stop by that day so we waited until Monday morning.

Monday: I told my supervisor that I was going to be late and would likely take a Lyft ride to work after the mechanic comes by to check out the car and possibly fix it. The mechanic arrived later than scheduled (he informed me in advance). He does not have the part and said he’d return either later that evening or the following day. My husband kindly bought the part on the way home thinking it would make the mechanic’s life much easier so it can be fixed later that evening. That never happened. In terms of getting the work, I ended up not going after speaking with my supervisor. I would pay anywhere between $70-$80 roundtrip to do less than 4 hours of work in the office. If there buses and trains ran more frequently, I would have taken that to work. Also my supervisor reminded me that all next week she’ll be on vacation so it was best I took the day off which I did, but I did not go anywhere.

Tuesday: My husband works from home so he could wait for the mechanic to arrive and I can go to work. I took a Lyft ride to work. My husband told me the mechanic came by and he thought the mechanic told us the car needed a new bolt yesterday, not a new bolt and nut. My husband went through the trouble to buying a new bolt for the mechanic thinking he would have likely completed the job earlier. Anyways my husband decided if the car needed a new bolt and nut he could have done it himself. It was good we consulted with a mechanic to only learn the repair was not beyond my husband’s skillset. Also, we saved a lot of money since we are buying a new car. The cost of the repair was just as much as a car payment. Cost of a Lyft ride from home to work: $92 for a roundtrip. That does not include the tip.

Wednesday: We bought a new car! No Lyft rides for now…also significantly less gas trips for a while because we bought a plug-in hybrid! Total cost of Lyft ride: $94. The trip was from home to work, then from work to car dealership. These Lyft receipts are so painful to look at.

Thursday: Daycare called to tell me I had to pull Lana out early because they saw a rash. They said that Lana could only return to daycare until she saw a doctor and we get a doctor’s note stating that her rash is not contagious. We went home early and waited for the 4:30 pm video consult. My supervisor gave me approval to work from home for the day so I did not have to use my PTO. I was exhausted but I am not going to join these groups of working mom who complain how hard it is to work from home while having small children at home. I’ll admit it is hard, but I refuse to contribute to these sentiments. For part of my job, I interview people coming from the GAIN (Greater Avenues to Independence) program for one-year paid internship positions. The candidates coming from the GAIN program are from low socioeconomic backgrounds and are young parent(s). Every time I hear someone who complains how hard it is to work from home or how hard it is to work from home with a kid, I cringe because I think about my interviews with the GAIN candidates. In the interview they would tell me how they would like an opportunity to work in an office. They want stable hours and a less physically demanding job.

Friday: I returned to work. Lana’s rash was NOT contagious.

I applied for this Administrative Internship through my work earlier this week. I heard back that my application is moving forward in the selection process and I complete Part II on Monday. It’s not an interview, just another assessment. I guess it is a nice way to end this week. The Administrative Intern program is a two-year full-time paid internship through my current employer. I would perform analyst assignments in a variety of public offices within the county like public health, health services, parks and rec, etc. I still intend to apply for the Management Fellow which is very similar where it is paid and it’s also a two year program, but the level of work is much higher and requires the candidates to have a Master’s Degree. But the Management Fellow applications won’t open up until towards the end of the year and the acceptance rate is much, much lower than the Administrative Internship.

Anyways, we can’t predict the future. If we did, then we’d all be rich and solve the world’s problems.

Turkish Coffee

This weekend’s coffee is Turkish coffee to pummel myself. I ate too many sweets yesterday :-/.

I highly encourage people to participate in this month’s “Eat Around the World” challenge to submit dishes around celebration! Cooking skills are not required. Funny thing, as someone who raves about home cooking, I have yet to post a celebration dish I’ve made. Maybe soon…

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.

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.

My first month of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. I would not call it a diet because it does not say what you should and should not eat, it is more like when you should eat. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee (without cream and sugar), and tea (without tea and sugar), and other non-caloric beverages. There are different types of fasts, one being 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating (16:8), 18 hours of fasting followed by 6 hours of eating, and 20 hours of fasting followed 4 hours of eating. Then I have seen fasts run for as long as 36 hours — something I have not tried at all.

I’ve done IF since Thanksgiving, but it was something I did occasionally especially on the weeks where I knew I’d be eating a lot of food later in the day due to a bunch of holiday festivities. Since January 1st I decided to take a more serious look into IF to see if it was something I could do everyday. So here is my take:

16:8 fast – This is how I fast almost everyday. I don’t eat after 8:30 PM and my next meal is 12:30 PM for lunch. It is very doable.

18:6 fast – This one is a little bit of a stretch because it ends at weird time for me. About a couple of hours later, I leave work. I guess I could snack at my desk with my fasting period is over. I am not sure if this is something I could do everyday.

20:4 fast – Though this fasting window is even longer, I would more likely do a 20:4 fast than an 18:6 because by that time, I leave my office and have dinner. Doing one day of a 20:4 fast is doable, but two days in a row is much tougher. Maybe this would happen about no more than two times per week, but not consecutively.

Any changes since I started IF?

I feel more focused.

There seems to be less brain fog. Maybe instead of having food on the mind, worrying about preparing my next meal, I focus on what task I need to do.

Mornings feel less rushed

I don’t have to make breakfast, so it is one less thing to worry about in the morning. I can just make coffee, feed the dogs, and get ready to go to the gym.

Save money

I would like to think IF can help save me money. Before on most days I would buy a pastry and a coffee in the morning followed by buying lunch at the work cafeteria. Since IF, I know I can wait until I finish my fast. I would like to think it had helped me with curbing my impulse buys.

I had a surprisingly easy transition.

I guess I had a fairly easier time starting it because I don’t drink soda and I don’t add creamer and sugar to my coffee. 

Instead of lunch… I am more productive!

Instead of lunch, I plan, write, read, and learn.

Have you done intermittent fasting, and did it work (or not work) for you? Comment below!

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?

Sarah in the Wild

This idea was itching my mind for a while. I wanted to do an interview series highlighting bloggers who do full jobs like me. I think we need to highlight there are certainly more things in life than work and blogging is a gateway to support and share hobbies and meaningful activities. To me it is refreshing to hear and know that we are more than our jobs.

So here it is — going forward every Monday, I’ll be doing a series call [X] in the Wild. If you’re interested in a blog interview, contact me.

For the first of the series, meet Sarah from her eponymous blog, Sarah Trademark (www.sarahtrademark.com), a UK-based lifestyle blog leaning towards beauty products and food. I have to say, she’s got some rad magical hair! Also thank you for being the inaugural interviewee. Here’s the blog interview below!


Sarah Trademark

What’s your 9-to-5? I work as a sales admin in a busy office for a company that supplier industrial fastenings (so nothing to do with my blog!)

Location: Oxfordshire,UK

Favorite things/landmarks from your home? I love going London on day trips to see the sights or go shopping.

What was your main drive behind your blog? I enjoy writing and shaving my views with others.

What topics does your blog cover? Hair, makeup/skincare as well as fitness/food and homeware.

For people who are visiting your blog for the first time, what posts and/or series should they read? I really enjoy writing gift guide posts so I would suggest starting out to check those out!

What are your short/ long term goals? To enjoy myself. Blogging is a hobby for me, not a job, so I want to enjoy what I do and not be pressured to post at certain times etc.

What are meaningful things in your life? My husband and my pets are everything to me. We have a beautiful family (2 guinea pigs and 2 cats)

Ooh you have pets! How are your pets like? They are all so loving. We have two guinea pigs and two cats and they all get on so well it’s beautiful.

How do you start your day? I check all my social pages as soon as I get up before I go to work.

What is your favorite way to end the day? To relax and watch tv before bed.

You got a free plane ticket to go anywhere in the world, where would you want to go? I would love to go to Florida to go to Disneyworld.

Most valuable advice you’ve received? Be yourself and don’t try to conform to what you think is “normal”.

Complete this sentence, “you can never leave your home without”… My phone!

How do you find time to blog? I sometimes do it in the evening but mostly catch up at the weekends

Get social with Sarah! You can check her out at:Sarah Trademark

Do you blog and work a full time job? Do you want to be featured? Feel free to reach out!