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.

Weekend Coffee Share: January Overview

Wow, what a week and I am wiped out! Most people would wind down on Friday afternoons at work, they’re physically out of the office at 5:30 PM but their head has been out of the office since 11 AM. For me, my work load was ramping up yesterday afternoon. I had to put together a last-minute volunteer recruiting effort for a drive-up COVID vaccine clinic for the following morning. I don’t understand how this fell on my lap so suddenly if this drive-up COVID vaccine clinic project has been days in the making.

I was so busy this week that I had no time to even click on a social media app. I thought to myself, that is no good. Sure social media scrolling can be a productivity sucker if you spend hours on end scrolling wondering why your life is not like that influencer or looking at memes, but I felt this type of busy-ness went too far. My wind downs were usually right before bed where I would read a book for 21 minutes and fall asleep to only wake up a few hours later to change Lana’s diaper. I would sleep in and do the day all over again. I was lucky to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise each morning.

Anyways I want to do this coffee share to do an overview of my 21 in (20)21 list. Here’s how it’s going so far:

Self-Love

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

Not too bad. I only missed a day so far.

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. I still read to Lana each night — mostly juvenile chapter books, fairy tales, anthologies, and some picture books. In the beginning I did count my reading to Lana as part of my 21 minutes per day, but now all 21 minutes of reading for me. Reading to Lana is extra. So far I finished two books for myself and five books for Lana. Currently I am reading three books for myself and three books for Lana.

Home

5. Work on Lana’s room which means cleaning up the office/storage room. Work in progress

6. Move the shoe rack from the entry way in the coat closet. This is done! The entry way looks great!

8 Get a credenza for the living room. Work in progress.

Finance

13. Create monthly meal plans. I did this all of January. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite meals.

14. Make our own baby food. In progress. I am currently researching what kind of baby food make. I am pretty excited!

Health

15. Improve my posture muscles at barre. In progress.

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. In progress. One dose down, another one coming this Thursday.

Creativity/Other activities

18. Create an artistic display of our postcards. In progress.

20. Organize my apps on my phone. In progress.

I do want to thank everyone from the previous week’s Coffee Share for all your support and kind words. After I told off my brother-in-law about his cigarette smell, he stopped smoking and the house does not smell like cigarettes anymore. I don’t have to open the window and make everyone freeze in the house or waste heat. I’ve never smoked, I always heard how hard it was to stop smoking so I am sure it was a tough thing for him to sacrifice. I would not be surprised if some days he harbors a grudge against me. Anyways, I feel he has demonstrated he can turn around…but he has not tried looking for work so I don’t think quitting smoking is enough for my husband to let him stay.

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.

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    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.

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.

July Goals, June Reflections

New York City Highline

Highline Park, New York City, July 2012

June Goals in review:

1. Complete 250 barre classescompleted

2. Instead of driving to short distance places, walk or bike there – completed

I have gone car free at least 40 miles per week. I am still tallying my car-free miles for the month June whether it was by foot, bicycle, or bus. I can keep this up, going car-free for a minimum of 40 miles per week is definitely sustainable.

3. Complete a craft project – incomplete

I have a couple of craft projects that are on standby, but month by month I had a lot of things on my plate. I have a macrame project I started back in in January, but need to pick up again. Since our housemate is moving out this it means more freedom to decorate around the house…plus spend more time at home doing DIY instead of going to the mall and go shopping.

4. Get a new mattresscompleted

5. Finish my FAFSA and graduate school application – completed

6. Hike 4 times this month 

I hiked 3 times — that was better than I expected. I biked around Portland, did a repeat of the Porter Ranch Trails, and I biked through the Tujunga Wash to get to North Hollywood.  I hope through this 52 Hike Challenge, it can help me build that habit to spend more time outdoors. I hope from there, I can bike more often to get around my town.

7. Complete Phase II of the Pergola project – Get rid of the concrete buried in the yard — Completed

My top Posts for June:

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New York City Library, July 2012

July goals:

  1. Complete Phase III of the Pergola project — move and reuse the concrete to provide drainage to our pavers. Redoing these pavers have been a long standing project my husband has been doing since we’ve gotten the house. It’s extremely labor instensive and taught me the importance of how getting the right tools make a huge difference not just in your efficiency, but also in your morale to do such a labor intensive DIY project. At the time, I avoided it because of the high chances of injuring myself with minimal tools and I didn’t find that efficient.
  2. Complete a craft project
  3. Organize my “Current Reads” page – When I am not blogging, exercising, working on the yard, or doing a DIY project, I read. I take a book everywhere I go. I’ve been meaning to organize this page and you may find yourself a series on books I’ve read.
  4. Work on the guest room – Our housemate is moving out on Saturday. My husband and I decided we will not take tenants and we will make the spare room a guest room.

My personal goals for this month are thin, but I’ve got plenty of work goals. But let’s not get there. I set goals at work every week, every day. In my planner, I journal all my “wins” and things that make me feel good and they’re all related to work. In my planner, you’ll find a disproportionate amount of goals related to work and it would deserve it’s own long blog post.

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New York City, July 2012

June Goals, May Reflections

Greetings, I just came back from my trip from the Oregon and Washington. It was a lot of fun to just get away from LA. It’s now June so that means it’s time to share some goals

But first let’s recap goals from May.
Continue reading June Goals, May Reflections

May Goals

I decided to follow along and post my May goals on my blog since everyone in the blogosphere is doing it. For me, I like to reading other people’s goals on their blogs so I was inspired to put together mine.

1. Start the Pergola Project

We bought a fairly cheap house in the Valley. It was built in 1953 and has not been updated since. In other words, we need to remodel the crap out of it. Last year, we updated the home electrical to code and added recess lighting. There’s other major resource-intensive projects such as remodeling the addition but we’re still doing research. This pergola project is fairly small and I would love to have a beautiful shade structure in time for summer events. Is it going to be professionally done, is it going to be a purely DIY project? We’ll find out.

2. Hike 3 times

Since the City Slicker Challenge, I want to take it a little easy on hiking. In March, I hiked 10 times. Though I told myself to take it easy on hiking so I can focus on my home projects, I’ll still do some hikes. Maybe not a 8-10 mile hikes for this month. I’ll place my focus on smaller, more hyperlocal hikes like Fryman Canyon, Lake Balboa, or Tujunga wash. Or when we go to Portland and Seattle towards the end of the month.

3. Clean my closet and drawers

This  was on my to-do list in April. I started this on April 30th and will continue to do so for the month.

4. Remove weeds in the backyard

This is a tie-in to the Pergola Project in the beginning of this list. For us to have a pergola and patio, we need to remove the weeds in the backyard. Last Saturday, I learned a little background on the last people who lived in our house from our neighbors: First, they were renters, and second, they made the house a mess. Ding, ding. We’re cleaning it up. It’s a lot of work since we are doing that on our own. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth getting a professional to do the job. Or maybe…we can leave it to the professionals to do the harder things like remodeling or placing pavers on the patio. You see, when you are a homeowner, all one sees are dollar signs. You’re already paying mortgage, property tax, all the utility bills –Dollar signs can scare people away. You need to see dollar signs from two sides: one for the services being done by a professional versus the services you are doing yourself. It can get tricky. Sometimes, it may cost more if you do it yourself because you purchased the wrong items or you purchased tools you end up using once. Then there’s the cost of the learning curve of practice and other potential wasted resources.

5. Donate books

I have a few books in my office that I am ready to clear out. I am open to doing a book-crossing, donate my books to a used bookstore at my public library, or donate to my local little free library. I hope whoever is the recipient of the books are people who’ll enjoy the books as I did or more than I did.

6. Post all my hiking trips from the 52 Hike Challenge

To date, I’ve hiked 21 times this year  and I need to document them! I plan to write about them all during May. It’s been a wonderful experience and a unique way to explore LA.

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Los Angeles Zoo 2013 — Summer is almost here!

You’ll see some random photos in posts like these. I have a whole collection of old photos in my phone that probably deserve some spotlight, not just my wedding and engagement photos. I’m looking at you former brides who continue to post photos from their wedding though life moved on after the wedding. Because we’re nearing summer, I thought to share a photo of a little waterfall from the Los Angeles Zoo.