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.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Experimenting with cookie recipes

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?

Have some cookies! I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen in preparation for our first ever friend’s cookie exchange. Instead of the usual get-together with Friendsgiving in November followed by Christmas Dinner/White Elephant party in December, we’ll be doing a cookie exchange where we mail each other cookie boxes. We came up with a theme, and this year’s theme is travel since we have not travelled anywhere all year long.

One of the cookies I’m testing out is the Icelandic Pepper Cookie. I like the direction it’s going because it reminds me of gingerbread, but lighter with the warming spices of cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. I am still tweaking it to get the texture I want. Hopefully I get to do some fun shapes for the box.

Icelandic Pepper Cookie attempt one

I’ll be baking different cookies this week to figure out which ones will make its way to the cookie box. In terms of variety, we agreed the maximum for each set is three different types of cookies. I think three different cookies for a box is reasonable in comparison to the New York Times cookie box (there’s at least eight types of cookies!). Testing out different recipes in December is quite a time crunch. Why did I not test different cookie recipes throughout the year? Oh well…this cookie exchange happened so spontaneously. We came up with this idea a week ago. Maybe even when things return to normal and our traditions resume, the cookie exchange can be part of it.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Some semblance of normalcy

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?

For this weekend’s treat, I’ll be serving Hot Maca Chocolate Latte. I saw it at Target and it looked interesting. It tastes great too.

Starting tonight, Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California will kick off a stay-at-home order effective for the next three weeks. It’s incredibly confusing; indoor and outdoor parks and recreation centers are closed, but indoor and outdoor malls are okay? Yesterday, on my way to my parent’s house, I thought to stop by a juice place at the mall nearby them because I had a gift card. When I got there, I was shocked to find a packed parking lot — it was like your normal holiday season. This mall is not particularly a tourist destination. In contrast, the Santa Monica Promenade where I go regularly to walk my pets and window shop is practically empty — I always find parking there. I would not be surprised if this is the overall attitude of my hometown; they don’t care about masks and social distancing.

Since July, I’ve already accepted mask-wearing, limiting visits, limiting capacity in common areas, exercising at home, disinfecting areas, etc., as the new normal. Three months into the pandemic with no progress seeing it end, it was just easier to accept “hanging in there.” I don’t understand how some people can rant angrily about how they feel “oppressed”, how COVID-19 isn’t real, and other conspiracy theories… isn’t it an energy sucker? It only serves in dragging the problem.

Since my daughter is born, I’ve been working to build her into my normal. I know some may argue, “Ha, your life will never be normal once you have kids.” Well if you let your kid run your life then that is true. I still have to return to work so I have to practice waking up my usual 5AM-5:30AM time, my dogs and I need to walk and exercise, the house needs to be clean, my plants needs care, I need to eat and care for myself, etc.

After spending the first month of her life learning how to change a diaper and swaddling and enjoying the perk of waking up whenever I want, I realized I had a few more weeks to return to work. Sure I am not starting work tomorrow, but creating a routine takes work. Even before I was pregnant, I had a routine I constantly tweaked. In my previous job where I traveled all the time, I had to schedule my wake-up times. If I had a three-hour drive where I had to get there by 8AM, I had to wake up at 4AM and leave the house by 4:30 AM or no later than 4:45 AM. If I had to go the office that day, I would wake up at 6AM to squeeze in some exercise and breakfast, leave the house by 7:45AM to get there by 8:30 AM. When I started my current job where I had one place to go to everyday, I had to change my entire routine. My goals for that routine at the time was to exercise and take public transit. With my daughter, taking public transit will not be the top priority for my new routine especially due to COVID and limited train lines available. My focus in my new weekday routine will be exercise, walking the dogs, packing lunch and other snacks for work, and dressing her up for the day.