A Field of butterflies and tulips (PPAC #32)

I enjoy passing back this mural at work. Something about it makes me smile — maybe it’s the bright red tulips. Also, the children are away from screens (assuming they have smartphones and TVs) and are instead interacting with the world around them. It’s strangely refreshing.

Continue reading A Field of butterflies and tulips (PPAC #32)

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

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

Unsolicited advice: You’re doing it all wrong

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ages. As Lana approaches her first birthday, I’ll be releasing a few posts about motherhood. At first I thought to do a monthly recap, but I decided let’s wait because I have other posts too. I want to showcase my hobbies and other things on my mind. Then this post quickly grew more into this very stream-of-consciousness post with various topics around motherhood. But now after reviewing, I broke them down and made several smaller posts around motherhood. This post is more focused on receiving unsolicited advice.

Continue reading Unsolicited advice: You’re doing it all wrong

Who’s the sheeple now?

I received a notification a couple of weeks back for having this WordPress account for 12 years. I had this WordPress account when I was 21 years old. I was in my last quarter of university figuring out what was next. Side note: I’ve been blogging for far longer. I started blogging since I was 16 years old. I had a Xanga because everyone in high school had a Xanga. When I was 17, I decided to switch to Livejournal because I preferred the interface. At 16 and 17, I wrote about school projects, exams, books I read (which everyone else in my class has read), hanging out with friends, etc. I was very cautious to not slip writing about high school crushes ;-). Then from my first year of college to senior year, I had a Blogspot. I wrote about personal finance — out of all things. All of them I wrote very intermittently.

Continue reading Who’s the sheeple now?

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?

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Merry Everything!

“Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.”

Kahlil Gibran

Six years ago we went to Lake Tahoe for Christmas. It was our mini-moon. At that time we just got married two months before and we decided to put our honeymoon in Italy on a hold for a little bit…but we still wanted to go somewhere. My husband’s job had a company holiday shutdown that week so we wanted to go somewhere we could spend a couple of days and it was enough. Side note: we eventually went to Italy a year after our wedding.

This year’s holiday season has been interesting. I wonder how things are going at my work at the hospital and how it will be like when I return in a couple of weeks. In reading the headlines over the last several days (weeks in some places), medical centers across the country are overwhelmed with the number of COVID cases. At my hospital we take in patients from places outside of my county supporting the smaller hospitals who do not have enough resources. Now we do not have any ICU beds available. In the early months of COVID, we had staff members who were not comfortable coming home to their families in fears they would get them sick. Now we are at month nine of this pandemic. To those who break from the mask wearing rules and the social distancing, how selfish do you have to be to not let people come home to their families all because you wanted to go to a party?

When I was working, we received an abundance of meal donations and care packages from the community for several weeks. To me it felt like a very long Christmas with every delivery received. It lifts my spirits knowing there was kindness out there; it was knowing that healthcare workers are appreciated because in the last few years, there have been many people diminishing and questioning science and health. I have no problem with people asking questions, but now there are wild conspiracy theories and false information that is spreading like wildfire. They ardently believe what they see and it is to the point they get aggressive. There were times I had to downplay my occupation as a healthcare worker because I did not want to deal with…how should I kindly put it…”crazy talk.” But I now proudly wear that badge because I can’t handle stupid anymore.

That is my rant. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Merry Everything!

19 for (20)19 reverse list

I did not create my 19 in (20)19 list in the beginning of the year. So instead I wanted to use this opportunity to reflect back on the 19 things I’ve done this year.

1. Got a new job

2. Revived this blog

Especially at the end of this year, I started writing and engaging with the blogging community. Yes, during the year I tried to write something but I had a tough time sustaining it.

3. Went to Peru


4. Enjoyed the Central Coast


5. Got our house remodeled

This was years in the making. Ever since we bought our house. We interviewed contractors in the last two years and we bit the bullet. The timing may have not been great with me starting my new job and the remodel happening in the last semester of grad school, but we did it!

6. Made a sourdough starter…and successfully made bread, pretzels, crackers, and more!


7. Drove to Tucson

8. I completed my Master’s Degree

A thing I wanted to do in my early 20s became something I did in my early 30s. Somehow it came in full circle. It was a major I wanted to pursue but I was constantly deterred how there was not a lot of money in public health. After going through a decade of trying three careers, the third career being public health, I went back to school to advance my public health career.

9. Taking public transit more…and walking more.

I use to drive A LOT in my last job. My poor car! With my new job, within the same county and it’s accessible through public transit. As a result, I’ve been walking more and reaching 10,000 steps each day.

10. Stopped buying new clothes and started renting.

My new job requires me to dress up a little more and honestly buying a new wardrobe for workwear is out of my budget. Going forward, instead of buying and being constantly dissatisfied with majority of my purchases, I decided to rent my clothes from Le Tote.

11. I went a whole year of going plastic-free on shampoo and soap.

No more plastic bottles for shampoo and soap. Next up is finding the right face soap.

12. Made my own toner, moisturizer, and body oil.

Our home remodel affected our finances in major ways which also includes my beauty budget. It was tough taking the jump because I enjoy those luxuries. But I have to say though, it has not been so bad. When I had to bootstrap in my early 20s, I used grapeseed oil as my moisturizer. It was not so bad. I thought I give doing DIY beauty another shot.

13. I tried intermittent fasting and it was not terrible.

In my last job, I did quite a bit of stress eating and I was always concerned about my resting heart rate. I even tried intuitive eating but it seemed like I was hungry only all the time. When I drove long distances, I would during my drive to stay awake. I was eating more, but moving less. Any form of moving was usually reserved for the gym.

Now since I have a fairly more balanced life, I move more and I feel less hungry. I’ve been building up to doing a 14-16 hour fast daily. I was even able to power through in December.

14. Got a new dentist and I did not get charged an arm and a leg.

I dreaded going to my last dentist. I went out of each appointment getting charged extra for “necessary” treatment I was not sure I needed.

15. Hit 500 classes in Pure Barre

And I did not even know it until one day in January I got a nice surprise.

16. Learning foreign languages

17. Started creating my cooking binder

I try so many different recipes so I want to hold on to only the recipes I enjoy. I started putting this recipe book when I was on school break and stopped right after. Along with it, I barely looked at recipes.

18. Started refinishing my furniture

19. Appreciating the art of air-frying

I got an air fryer on sale. It looks like we’ll never have to order takeout again. Or at least order fries.


Side note: I know people may say things like “Bye 2019, you suck.” I do notice a pattern when people (namely, the same people) say, “bye 2018, you suck” and the year before “bye 2017, you suck.If you continue to make poor choices, then you’ll continue to have terrible years. Don’t wait a whole year to turn things around, it can start right now.

The Decade Challenge

So, I did the decade challenge.

It did not occur to me we were going to be in a new decade in a couple of weeks. It’s very exciting. I thought for fun, I could find a photo of me at 22 somewhere in the albums dedicated to old Facebook profile photos. For my “now” shot, I took a selfie in the commuter train going home. I may have also been bored sitting on this train, so why not participate in the decade challenge?

The truth is, I have these mixed feelings about the decade challenge. It is basically sharing the world “look how hard aging has hit you.” Or perhaps, it is to show how aging has been good to you.

I like to think aging has been good to me. Not in the physical traits like wrinkles and weight gain//loss, but rather how far I’ve come in terms of happiness, confidence, and just overall life. I’ve changed my career over the last 10 years. I would have never thought to work in the business of serving people, I did not think I had the soft skills to do it.

I have a better relationship with food. I use to listen to people telling me to avoid carbs, which also included fruit(!). I remembered avoiding it like it was a disease. But my travels changed my attitude towards food. People around the world treasure bread, pasta, rice, and beer. In America, it is much easier to demonize carbs than to moderate it.

Also, I have a better relationship with work and money. As much as I love my job(s), I work to live, not the other way around. I use to be the latter, and I was burnt out all the time. The burn out also sucked out the joy from my job. I also feel more confident about my relationship with money. I’ve always been a proud saver until I started working my first full-time job. People tend to conflate cheap with frugal. I was always made fun of for holding on to my smartphone, car, and toothpaste for as long as I can. Thankfully I learned being in debt is not cool. I quickly realized keeping up with the Joneses’ is fueled by debt. I know I’ll get some questions, “so how are you a homeowner?” Well, I changed my relationship with money. We bought a house in 2014, and it almost doubled in value four years later. A bad relationship with money is buying an iPhone 10 to only throw money the following year for an iPhone 11 Pro.

See, there is more to life than anti-aging products and obsessing over #WaybackWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday, #FlashbackFriday. There is more to life than keeping up with the latest greatest thing. I am glad I left that frame of mind early on; otherwise, I would be in a debt where I cannot get out of.

I know there are a lot of people who were not as lucky in their decade. I know some people have lost their job and still remain underemployed. Some are on the edge of losing everything. That is why I work incredibly hard and credit all the people who have pushed me along the way. I am perpetually thankful. I’ve been fired before, but I quickly gained employment about four weeks after. I remembered that month, I networked and volunteered, then an opportunity came.

It is funny when people only want to know if you’ve been engaged, married, or have kids, or if you found somebody at all. Is life really only these things? Nobody really asks questions about what brings you joy — it may not be a person. Not a lot of people ask about your goals in life — those seem to stop after college. It is quite sad, really.

My decade challenge is more than this side-by-side picture. It is a reflection of how far I have come.

Here’s to the new decade!

Back from Sequoia/Life Audit

I’m back from Sequoia and Kings Canyon! Here are some photos taken from my smart phone. Stay tuned for photos from my Sony NEX camera!

How was it?

Comparing this trip to last year’s trip to Zion National Park — Zion was more glamping. Come on — we had wi-fi in our camping ground and 15 minutes away, we had Starbucks.

This year’s camping trip with friends was a title rougher. Most of our group had no cell phone signal — unless you had Verizon. Also it rained during half of our trip and parts of our tent inside got soaked. On the days when there was no rain, it was very hot and there were some forest fires so the air was smoky. Also our campground was a few miles away from the main road. The road to our campground was mostly dirt and it can get bumpy. Taking a forest road may not be good for those who get car sick easily.


Off the Forest Road. You get the trees up close, but sit tight for a bumpy ride.

Seasons of Friends

Every year, since 2015, we’ve organized camping trips exploring National Parks with friends. Come to think of it, it turns out we have special friends event throughout the year and it was not intentional.

  • Spring/Summer: Camping trip — our newest tradition.
  • Fall: Friendsgiving
  • Winter: Our oldest event, the Holiday dinner with a White Elephant gift exchange. This was established before I started college and met everyone — it was established in 2004, but I did not partake until 2006. For a lot of us, it’s the only friends event we attend for the year. It’s a wonderful way to catch up.

I think it’s pretty cool we continue these traditions no matter what stage in life we are. Throughout the years some of us went out-of-state for school or for work, brought boyfriends/girlfriends, got dumped, some of us got married, have kids. It’s interesting how time is fleeting and how far we’ve come.

Right: The meadow next to our campground. Left: Hume Lake

Counting my blessings thousands of times over

I am 30 years and 2 days old now. I would not celebrate my 30th birthday weekend any other way. For me, instead of spending money and energy on a fancy hotel party, I would like to use it to celebrate all month-long. This month of September I’ll be auditing my life, sharing things that bring me joy and meaning. Brace yourself folks.

I’ve been blessed with life for the past 30 years. Looking back with melancholy and a heavy heart, there have been some people who not have made it. People who I thought could have done great things in life, but were taken away so soon. We heard news of a high school classmate who passed away in July 2016. We all found out after the fact via social media one year later. I use to see this person around town often, we’d say “hello” and catch up. It was wonderful to have known him during my school years during a phase where fitting in mattered, but he made you embrace your inner-quirky — who makes you, you. His passing was like a light went out in this world…or another way to put it: the lives he’s touched, we’ll carry the torch.


Me with my husband and dogs exploring the river.

It was a wonderful long weekend spending it with the people I care about. Here’s to more of that!

Off topic:

Advisory: Camping may cause you to do one or some of the following as soon as you get home:

  1. Consider a diet of green smoothies 2 out 3 meals.
  2. Consider a vegan diet 
  3. Make stove top roasted marshmallows for s’mores
  4. To immediately go shower and scrub all the dirt off
  5. Plan your next trip
  6. Clearer thinking
  7. Consider buying more plants for your place
  8. Pursue new challenges