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:

Monday – I was not feeling well. Maybe I was exhausted from all the housework that weekend. I called out work to take the day off. My supervisor suggested it since she was going out be out of vacation for two weeks the week after.

Tuesday – I felt better and went back to work and took my daughter to daycare. Two hours later, daycare called saying my daughter had a runny nose and will call back if it was getting worse. They called back telling me it was not improving and I had to pull her out of daycare to either get checked by a doctor and return with a doctor’s note or pull her out of daycare for 10 days. I chose the former and got her seen by a doctor. They said it was either a cold or croup but they did not rule out COVID. They gave her a COVID test and we would find out the results the following day. After the doctor’s visit, I worked from home the rest of the day — which I am incredibly grateful for considering I barely have any PTO.

Wednesday – The following day, I took another day off waiting for the COVID results. Another thing I am grateful about my current job is that I get two weeks of COVID leave. Since we are waiting for COVID results, I could mark it as “COVID leave” so I don’t use any more of my PTO. I got the results and it was NEGATIVE. THANK GOODNESS! But she still had a runny nose and was working through some phelgm. Though she was technically clear to return per the doctor’s note, I did not want her to return to daycare the following day to get another calling saying her nose is still runny. My parents suggested I stay with them for the rest of the week — they can watch Lana and I can go to work. The downside of this was my commute doubled — instead of one-hour commute roundtrip, it was two hours.

Thursday – Staying with my parents is pretty nice despite the two hour round trip. It was weird coming home because by that time everyone at home already finished dinner. It was either on to the shower, brushing their teeth, or watching TV to wind down. For me, I was HUNGRY and had whatever was on the table. I went to bed unusually early to wake up early to do this all over again. It was so un

Friday – There was a point I entertained the idea of buying a home in my hometown. I’m so glad I did not. That would mean 2 hours commutes for both me and my husband. But also when I go through my Facebook feed, I know don’t have to do deal with the hometown drama. It’s so darn juicy — but that’s because I’m not part of it. Good news is that she’s much better. But lately…I’ve been feeling pretty tired like I’m catching her cold. This week just could not finish fast enough.

Saturday morning we went back home. She’s doing much better. I texted my husband all throughout this week even though he won’t see these messages in another few days. Though he’s been gone for an entire week for military drill before, I was able to handle Lana by myself. But I felt this past week, we were thrown almost every unfavorable situation. My husband told me if life was getting too hard, he could quit the military. So I texted him that it’s time to let the military go.

It’s not the first time he quit. He quit back in 2013 because he wanted to focus on completing his Bachelor’s degree and have a defined career. He was in the military for six years, he was never promoted and he did not see a trajectory if he continued on. Fast forward to 2019, he re-enlisted. After he got his Bachelor’s degree in 2016, he entertained the idea of re-enlisting in the Officer Candidate School for a while. He thought from that position he could make a difference in the military, plus it would help him professionally in his civilian job. He thought of completing OCS as equivalent to completing a Master’s Degree. Since he’s been into year 2 year of OCS, he told me that he does not see a defined trajectory in the military like he hoped for. Well the thing is, if he quit the military, he’s got professional job for a prestigious employer as his full-time job doing meaningful work — unlike a lot of the people in his present and previous cohort. For him, it’s not a major loss.

The thing I’m not looking forward to is dealing with the aftermath of quitting the military. Of course I played a role in him quitting the first time. I feel just like any job, relationship, place, etc. — if it’s not providing you meaning and you’re not growing, you should let it go and move on. But quitting the military was a little different — you can’t just quit and move on with your life. The aftermath I dealt with back then was dealing with his military buddies on why I made him quit and how it will pay back in big ways if he continued to stay. The military wives and girlfriends would remind me that “it should not be about me. I should support the bigger cause.” All these comments were was coming off as MLM-ish. Anyways, the thing was it was never about me. My husband has stated time and time again not being happy where he’s at in the military and it’s happening again.

Reflecting on the first time he quit and the comments and questions I received, I learned what a powerful force culture can be. I know that’s a weird takeaway. But when I lived in San Diego — where I met my husband –the military culture is embedded in the identity of the city. One does not question culture, one does not dare challenge it. I remembered when my husband first started OCS, I was surprised he had to buy his own uniform and other items for his upcoming drills. I asked him back, “how is it that we spend so much money on defense — more than any country in the world — and it does not go towards your uniform and equipment?” There are people in his cohort with jobs that make minimum wage and they’re being asked to pay for their own stuff? He did not know how to answer my question. Culture is so powerful, you accept the conditions as they are and drudge on with your head low and looking at the ground. Culture is so powerful to suck a person back in because you believe it gives you meaning and direction.

Anyways thank you so much for sticking with my longer-than-usual weekend coffee share. I needed to vent after a long week.

#weekendcoffeeshare

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.

POPS Artisanal creamery coconut sundae

My husband is off for two weeks for his annual training, plus it’s Phase 3 for his Officer Candidate School. So what could I do for the next couple of weeks considering COVID cases have spiked? Well, lots of things.

Saturday was Lana’s first day at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. I got a deal to try unlimited classes for two weeks but looking at the schedule, we could only do the weekends. As tempting as it was to get a membership because she enjoyed it so much, I don’t think we’ll be able to make the most out of her membership if we are only available on weekends. We’ll be out of town on some weekends which does not justify the cost per use.

After Lana’s class, I started working on her room. Her room will be where we had our home office/craft room/storage room for many years. Right now Lana’s crib and dresser is there and she’s been sleeping in that room for the past month. Though I’ve spent the last few weeks decluttering here and there, I decided this weekend was the weekend to aggressively declutter. While she was sleeping, I assessed what to donate, shred, trash, and relocate.

I also spent my morning rearranging stuff in laundry room because my BIL buys too much toilet paper and paper towels — it’s way more than we need! After all, my husband and I barely use paper towels. We use old rags and towels to clean. Instead of toilet paper, we use a bidet. I placed the paper towels and toilet paper in places where it made more sense. I put toilet paper in the bathrooms and paper towels in the kitchen pantry. There was still A LOT left so I put the rest in the linen closet. The linen closet required a little bit of decluttering and consolidating but I made it work. I’ve had this talk with my BIL to stop buying so much toilet paper and paper towels when he first started living with us. His reasoning is that it’s his way to help us out. I already told him he wasn’t helping out and I don’t consider it a contribution because we hardly use it. Plus, it’s more work unnecessary work (see me relocate toilet paper and paper towels in other areas of the house.) My husband has had the same talk too, but I’m not sure how effective it is to lecture someone to change. Maybe it was best as landlady and owner of the house to take action so the laundry room isn’t so darn crowded.

Anyways back to Lana’s room, I am also working on getting her room painted. I am ashamed to admit this, but after a lot of thought I decided to hire a professional to paint her room. Why am I ashamed? Because I have to deal with replies like “it must be nice to have money to hire help” as a way to shame me, to “check my privilege.” I’ll admit I am in a better place financially now versus my college years. Also deciding to hire help did not come without reflecting what costs I need to cut back for the time being. Our meals for the next few weeks will be foraged from the fridge and the pantry — thanks to my BIL stuffing more food than we need (and hardly eat). The only exception I’ll make is buying fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. The only baby food I buy are the wafers, baby cereals, and formula. Other than that she eats whatever I eat. Honestly, I already cut a lot other things–I don’t buy a new tube of toothpaste until I get EVERYTHING out.

Anyways I had other reasons to hire someone to paint her room. The previous owners of the house did a terrible job painting our rooms — they just painted over the previous paint job. The walls need more than a little spackle. If I were to DIY, I would have only do the work when she’s sleeping. Why did I not paint her room while my husband was here? Well, when my husband is here not doing drill or training on weekends, I like to use my limited free time for “me” time like going to the gym while he watches Lana. Basically I am paying for convenience and efficiency. Something I am willing to spend.

#weekendcoffeeshare

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

Just a grain of salt…

Happy weekend coffee share! Let’s have a light brunch at Huckleberry in Santa Monica. I’ve been hearing great things about this place for years. I even borrowed their cookbook from the library to try out some recipes even though I’ve never been at the time. The jam-filled brioche loaf on the cover page caught my eye and that’s why I borrowed it. I was ambitious to venture into brioche-making. When I was about to return the library book, my miniature Schnauzer, Teddy, ruined the cover. Maybe he thought eating the cover page was a delicious idea. The library did not want want the book back in that condition (obviously). I had to pay for a replacement and got to keep the wrecked version.

To be honest, the damage is not as bad you think. Thank god for hardcover. Plus the pages are in great condition.

I guess I never bothered going because there are many other great brunches between there and where I lived. This morning I decided to finally go because it’s hot where I live. I wanted to escape the heat of the Valley for a little bit and hang out at Santa Monica. I am happy to say I am glad I made the small trek. This quiche gruyere and mushroom quiche is amazing! I also had their fruit crisp. This place definitely lives up to the hype. I’ll definitely go back to re-read this cookbook and replicate these dishes.

Anyways, if we were having coffee, I want to share a thing that bothered me. Background: my daughter’s daycare is at my work in the hospital so I get to see her during my lunch breaks. The other day, I decided to have lunch at the daycare to watch Lana do waterplay because it was first time doing waterplay. I like to see her have fun and engage with the other kids. I asked the daycare supervisor if I could eat lunch at the daycare and he said it was ok but as long as I’m not eating chips or other junk food in front of the other kids. He was explaining the importance of modeling good eating habits for the kids at the daycare. Also, he did not want to have some kid say “hey I don’t want to eat this watermelon, I want to chips because she’s eating chips!” I understood where he was coming from and I am not against this policy. Funny thing was that I had a bag of chip with me. All I had to do was walk a few feet to the staff cafeteria and eat them away from the kid’s sight. No big deal.

But that is not the part that frustrated me. After work, I met up with my husband for dinner and his friend tagged along. I shared with my husband about their lunch policy because we don’t want Lana become a picky eater as she gets older. But his friend exploded saying “Oh my gosh…ugh…they’re social engineering your kid. This is why you should not put your kids through public school, blah blah blah. This is why homeschool is far superior blah blah” Side note: this friend does not have any kids. And if you think public health and teaching kids and anybody about healthy eating (and washing your hands, brushing your teeth, etc.) is social engineering, then sure… Then hope you have one or all the things as a result of not doing any of these healthy habits. Also daycare is not the same as public school because I pay for daycare. It’s completely ridiculous. As much as I am ok with hearing other perspectives, I prefer to keep them at arm’s length. I commend my husband for taking these comments with a tiny grain of salt, while I am a little bit more sensitive.

Keep it simple

If you live in the United States — Happy 4th of July weekend! Here’s to a nice three-day weekend. I came into Friday saying “finally!” This past weekend was a little tough because it was my husband’s drill weekend leaving me to watch Lana all weekend. At eight months old she is getting incredibly mobile and I’m exhausted. This month, my husband has his annual three-week trainings so I told him on the weekends that he’s here, I’m going to use that time to go to in-person gym. During the week, I do the digital in-person classes from home but I like to use my weekends to go to in-person exercise classes as a treat. Also I miss seeing my gym friends. But also, I like to use up my class packages. I would hate for them to go to waste.

The Fourth of July weekend will be pretty simple. Instead of going out to watch fireworks this year, we’ll be watching it from our backyard. Fireworks happen so late in the day anyways it would be easiest to just watch them from home. Lana tends to get fussy when we are out too long and we have to deal with her crying the whole way home. At least from home, she’s comfortable. Also watching them from home is never a bad idea. We can see fireworks from everywhere in our yard. The thing I’ve learn about handling a baby is choose whatever makes you and your baby’s life easier. I tell myself Lana being little is only temporary. Don’t overcomplicate plans to appease everyone.

I am currently reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I borrowed it from the library, but I enjoy reading the book so much that I decided to buy it. There were so many moments where I stopped and paused to think about how I relate to her many passages. I’m not even halfway through, but it made me think about how I got to where I am. Even though people may credit my character for being a determined person, I have to admit there is a whole system that has helped me get to where I am today because I had certain privileges. I entertained the idea of a virtual book club to talk about this book but I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do so.

This month for “Eat Around the World” I’m doing ice cream. Other sweet cold treats are welcomed too! This one is going to be so much fun!

matcha beer ipa
This week try a cool matcha IPA

Happy late weekend coffee share post!

Happy late weekend coffee share post — it’s been a busy weekend for me. I started my Saturday morning going to the gym — nowadays it’s the only time I go to the gym. Sure I exercise from home, but I enjoy going to the gym to socialize and chat with my fellow gym buddies. After the gym, I finally did my exam for the internship position. The deadline is this Monday at 5PM and I knew Saturday was going to be my only free day and I needed a clear head to complete the exam. There were a few difficult parts that required me to take a few mental health breaks in between (thank god). After I completed my exam, I expected to get a score. It is an online exam after all… But we shall see…

Today is our first Father’s Day. My family came over to visit and we did our potluck lunch. I made a matcha cake with white chocolate whipped cream. It’s my first attempt making a cake not from a box mix. We have leftovers, so grab some yourself! I will do a post about this matcha cake this week. I do want to mention that I messed up on the frosting — I whipped it for too long and it started turning into buttercream.

Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea

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.

Recharge

Hello, Everyone! It’s a fairly warm weekend. Instead of coffee, I am feeling for some mango lassis.

Where to begin…

Tomorrow will be my first Mother’s Day. My husband and my dad are putting together a brunch lunch thing tomorrow at our house. My husband initially wanted to go out and dine and extend the invitation to my parents, but my parents still don’t want to dine in a restaurant.

Also, as promised I gave myself a Mother’s Day gift. That was my 21 in 2021 goal. I decided to give myself the gift of getting some help of getting my yard done. I hired these gardeners who don’t live too far from my house helping me get my yard into shape. I knew without help I would never get any garden projects done. They’ve done good work and I would like to continue hiring them. Plus, I get to keep my dollars local.

In the beginning of the week, I was extremely exhausted. I worked at the COVID clinic on Saturday. On Sunday, my husband and I met up with friends. On Sunday evening, I crashed well into Monday. Thankfully Monday was my day off. I felt so burnt out that I almost felt ill. I feel it’s a common things for me nowadays — I guess that’s what happens when you have a newborn, two dogs, a full-time job, mortgage, home projects, keep up with friends and family, goals, etc. “Maybe you should get more sleep.” I’m not quite sure if it needing more sleep is the answer to solving my burn out. Sleeping too much leaves me groggy.

I think for me, it’s having so much on my plate. I know I have the tendency to take too much on. One experiment I am doing is reviewing my planner and work bullet journal where I write no more than three things I need to accomplish per day. I write three tasks on my planner for personal stuff and three tasks on my work bullet journal for work-related and no more than that. I remembered this tip from a TEDx talk I attended in UCSD many years ago. I thought I’d give it a try for the next few weeks.

Starting Monday I am participating in the Bout of Books challenge. I know I can do all three reading sprints on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday at the times listed. The other days would be a little difficult since I’ll be working on getting my kid ready for daycare at 7AM. Though 1PM is my lunch break, my scheduled lunch time tends to be pushed back a little later in the day if I am occupied with something else. Maybe I could shift my 30-minute reading sprints. Instead of a 7AM and 1PM reading sprint, I could do a 30 minute sprint at 8AM listening to an audiobook on the way to work and a 6PM 30-minute sprint when I leave work. After dinner, I usually read a short story to Lana and before bed I read for about 20-30 minutes before falling asleep.

Mango Lassi at Southern Spices Cafe in Lawndale

Weekend Coffee Share: It’s more than leaving personal problems behind

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s been a chili week with all the rain. I’ve been hoping to go to the snow this weekend — assuming the roads will be open for now. Anyways grab some coffee or some tea.

If we were having coffee, I would share with you about this nagging frustration I finally expressed to my brother-in-law. He has been living with us since July. He’s been going through a lot of personal stuff and moved 100 miles from his former home to start over. I don’t want to divulge into what these problems are — it’s a long messy story. To help, we offered him to stay at our place rent-free while he’s working to get his life back together: go back to school, get a job, etc. It’s been six months and there has not been a lot of progress. Is it a “failure to launch?” Did he never try? He is drawn to these personal problems where he drives back there every weekend and it is impeding his progress…but that’s why he moved here…to get away from those nagging personal problems.

Through his time here instead of going back of school where it would take him a couple of years to complete with a questionable job market in the end, he decided to go for a far more lucrative trade to finish his school in a much shorter period of time. It’s been a month since he got his certificates, and he has not started looking for work — it has frustrated my husband considering how we offered to help him look for work. My husband is not sure how long he can take his brother being unemployed and unproductive while living with us — he is pretty close to letting him go.

For me, my frustration is that he smokes a lot. He smokes outside in the yard, but when he returns to the house he still smells of cigarettes and the smell fills the house. For a while, to be polite, I would open the windows throughout the house to air out. It worked when the weather was hot. But since it’s been cold outside and house heater is on, the smell lingers. The other day, I opened the window on a rainy night to just air it out and my husband asked me “why have the heater on if I am going to open the window?” I gave him the polite answer that I wanted to air out the house. He knew this euphemism because I’ve been complaining about the cigarette smell for a while. We are wasting heat all because I do not want to address the problem. So then I turned to my brother-in-law and I said, “no offense, but I am sensitive to cigarette smells. It gives me a headache.” Usually he would say something back like “I’m sorry” or that he’ll air out more next time. But he looked down and did not say anything back to me.

I did feel bad making this confession. I avoided bringing this up fearing it would come off as judgmental. Maybe it will finally push him to look for a job and get out of the house and be occupied with something. I am sure he is starting to realize that moving away is a lot more than just leaving his personal problems behind; we are asking him to give up a lifestyle of slacking off and smoking while he is living with us. He also has to deal with living in a home with a smaller fridge, smaller kitchen, smaller flat screen TV, a space where we discourage hoarding and clutter. I would not at all be surprised if in the end he decides to move back to his old home.

My brother-in-law is gone again for the weekend. He promises this should be his last visit to his old home for a while and he’ll start looking for work. If we can’t get to the snow this weekend, I’ll spend it at home doing a read-a-thon and plan for meals for the next month.

#weekendcoffeeshare: The art of vegging out

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Oh wow, what a week! I am not referring to certain external events. As of today, will heading towards my final week of maternity leave. This week has been pretty busy I went out of the house everyday of the week to run a few errands, attend a doctor appointment, attend a dentist appointment, and I even went to my work to do daycare orientation for Lana. Since I was already at work, I thought I might as well complete my annual health clearance at the Employee Health office. I may have fooled some people thinking I returned from maternity leave two weeks early.

Everyday this week I woke up anywhere between the hours of 4:30 AM to 5:30 AM. Today I decided to sleep in and woke up at 6:45 AM. I did not feel like doing my daily exercise. I tried “vegging out” but I guess my version of “vegging out” is going through coffee table books like Lonely Planet’s The Cities Book dreaming of future international trips (if we ever do them again) and researching recipes while the news is playing in the background. I also did laundry and folded clothes. That was my “lazy” morning.

Note to self: maybe I should not just go, go, go. Looking through my planner for next week, I do not have any appointments. I promise in my final week of maternity leave I should just enjoy it in the extent that I can.

On a serious note, this week the number of COVID cases have spiked and those are people within my family on both my side and my husband’s side. I do not want to divulge too much on the details right now. One of the first things I’ll do when I go back to work is to get the COVID vaccine. I’ll be the only person in my family who’ll get the COVID vaccine since I am a healthcare worker. I am excited and I am hopeful, but it does not mean I should go out and about. My husband and many of our family members who are not healthcare workers cannot get the vaccine yet. Hopefully distribution picks up soon.

#weekendcoffeeshare: A short drive to the snow

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about my New Year’s Eve. Usually it is a small gathering with friends where we would have food and play games (board and video), but this year we decided to a virtual gathering. Because we are eating at own homes, we met up virtually much, much later in the night and played video games. I realized that the only time I really play video games is on New Year’s Eve.

Also it has been a while since I’ve stayed up until midnight. Sure I’ve been awake during random hours of the night to feed and/or change Lana’s diaper, but at least I sleep between those times. This New Year’s Eve required me to put in more energy and effort to stay up. As soon as midnight hit, I pretty much hit the bed. Thank god for virtual get togethers. I don’t have to worry about driving back home.

Saturday was nice. We took a short drive from our house to go see some snow. It was the first time for both my fur-babies and human baby. Lana mostly observed, of course. Teddy, the miniature schnauzer, kept running — I assume to keep himself warm. Koda, the pomeranian, seemed like he had more fun burrowing in the snow.

I am hitting my final two weeks of maternity leave. I’ll try to make the most of it. I always imagined my maternity leave would be me spending my days window shopping (and not buying anything) and brunching on a Tuesday because I can. Of course the pandemic changed all that. I guess I kind of did that. Last month when I took my friend to her surgery appointment, I went to have breakfast. Since there was no dining indoors or outdoors at that restaurant, I walked a block over at a park and had breakfast.

My maternity leave is doing daily neighborhood walks with my dogs and my daughter. We also frequent the public library which is a 15 minute walk away to pick up books. We hope to keep these habits when I return to work. As of recently, I feel I am getting back in the swing of things. I am back making meals and a spread of sides for the week which is why the fridge has been looking fuller lately. I am sure my brother-in-law has to fight for space in our small fridge. I am not budging to buy a bigger one until we renovate the kitchen.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Have some cookies!

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Wow, it just occurred to me this is the last weekend of 2020. What am I doing this weekend? Well two of my friends and I are doing the first ever cookie swap. We agreed to meet at my house to swap our cookie boxes and have lunch. It is different from years past where we had much larger gatherings and everyone brought their own food. We would eat, chat, do a White Elephant gift exchange, and play games for hours until it got really late.

The rules of the cookie swap are simple: bake up to three different types of cookies and each box must have a dozen. We also agreed on a theme and we decided to do travel theme. Actually it started with one of my friends who said she was planning to make some Mexican cookies and it sparked an idea to do a travel theme. It is fitting since we all like to travel and we have not been able to travel anywhere this year.

My cookie box theme is New York City and I based the cookies off of my time there. The first cookie on the top row is the Black and White cookie. This cookie can be found in NYC delis. The dough is cake-based and so soft. For this recipe, I used store bought frosting instead of making the frosting — I did not have time to practice it. I did not have buttermilk, so I instead mixed 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Top: Black and White Cookie. Bottom (from left to right): Cuban Sugar Cookie with Passion Fruit Jam, Compost Cookie (inspired from Momofuku Milk Bar)

The next cookie I made (with the assistance of my nephew) is a Cuban Sugar Cookie called “Torticas de Moron.” It is a sugar cookie with a lime twist. I made this cookie because when I was at NYC, my friend and I would eat breakfast at a local Cuban café almost every morning. I could not find any guava jam in any grocery store. To substitute I used passion fruit jam. I enjoy making this cookie and would like to try it with dulce de leche and eventually guava jam if I could find it.

The third cookie is the Compost Cookie based off of the cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. I remembered the first time I had the Compost Cookie, it was so unusual to have potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, chocolate chips, and butterscotch all in one cookie. What I did differently was skip the graham cracker crust recipe and instead crushed the graham crackers. I guess I was tired trying a new recipe just to only used 1/2 cup of graham cracker crust for the cookies. What would I do with the rest of the graham cracker crust? Of course make pie, but I think I’ll take a short break from baking desserts.

I have plenty of cookies leftover after baking for most of the day. I have plenty to give. Here, have one or some. Do you have a cookie recipe? Comment below!

For other plans for the rest of the weekend, I am working on my 21 for 2021 list. I am also working on writing a reverse 20 for 2020 list, reflecting on all the things I did this year.