Spring has sprung

I’ve been away from this blog for a couple weeks because we have been enjoying some lovely spring weather here in the PNW.

Late March, we spent a week in beautiful Maui – playing in the sun, eating delicious plate lunches and just slowing down. I unplugged from work for a whole week! It felt so good. We waited 5 years for this. We had booked our babymoon in Maui before Sagan arrived but I had that emergency surgery so we cancelled. I very much enjoyed experiencing with S.

My first quarter at work was madness. I spent so much time working, trying to meet all the crazy deadlines set out by people who have no idea how much work goes into what I do. I’m glad that I had the Maui carrot to dangle in front of me, otherwise, I might not have fared so well.

We no longer have a yard but we have a couple of outdoor containers that I’m starting to nurture and plant. The front of our house gets very sunny so I planted some succulent pots with the lavender topiary. Because I am not good with keeping smaller containers healthy (you know I used to have those big metal stock tanks), I’ve been starting to use more fertilizer. My favorite one is fish fertilizer. It’s not the most pleasant smell when applying it to the pots but once you see how happy your plants get after a dose or two, you know that it’s the best thing for them. Even my indoor plants have responded well. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to fertilize my indoor foliage. I had a tiny rubber ficus that survived the dungeon of an apartment we had to live in for a few months last year. It was doing better in the new place but after 2 doses of fish fertilizer, its leaves have grown much healthier.

I hope to plant some basil, mint and chives this year. I am considering a self-watering container to keep them healthy when it gets too hot but I may plant the herbs on the east-facing balcony. What kinds of herbs are you growing this year?

We are planning to enjoy some hiking since there are plenty of trails at our doorstep now.

What are your favorite things to do this time of the year?

March Favorites and Updates

We finally met all the deadlines at work this past week. I can breathe again.

With slightly warmer weather, I’ve been browsing the plant nurseries. We picked up some spring flowers to add to our containers. Ever since I moved away from Scarlett, I no longer have a yard to garden in.
We have several containers and I am working on refreshing them with compost and fish emulsion fertilizer.

I plan to grow a cherry or grape style tomato, some peas and sunflowers for Sagan. He is recently interested in how to plant a seed and watch it grow.

With the changing seasons, I’m looking to find a new lightweight cotton blanket for our bed. We used grey and white in our bedroom so I am considering this one.

Also loving these printed kitchen towels.

I received my Write On Campaign kit and cannot wait to start creating pieces of mail to send out every day in April.

Got my Malaysian food fix last night – Roti Jala with some lamb curry and Chili Pan Mee. Delicious.

Best part of March is coming up – we leave for Maui in 9 days! Aloha!

What was your favorite part of March so far?

Friday Favorites

Work is still crazy and I have a lingering cold so that means I’m intentionally hoarding things that I love and enjoy. Little treats and moments of gratitude have helped me through these past weeks.

Cadbury Caramel Eggs – I love caramel. You all know that!

Milk Tea – made with PG Tips tea bags, full fat milk powder and raw honey. The best comfort drink.

Playing sea otters with Sagan – we have been enjoying videos of this baby sea otter and his momma, floating in the sea so he has been laying on my belly while we pretend to be sea otters.

Penelope Dullaghan’s Instagram posts of her work – love the recent pieces with blues and whites.

This book – Owls: Our Most Charming Bird – lovely illustrations. Sagan loves owls, but we never got a reference-style book and when I saw this, I knew this would be it.

Sheet Masks – finally, my face has stopped peeling and is playing nice with my foundation/makeup. My mum bought me a whole bunch of them from Etude House when she went back to Singapore, they have all worked equally well.

Mid-week favorites

Wow, it’s March already! Next month is National Lettering Writing month and I am taking on a challenge to send a piece of mail out for every day of the month.

I’m participating in Egg Press and Hello Lucky’s letter writing campaign – Write_On. I donated to their Indiegogo campaign – check it out here!

I have ordered some of these lovely stamps from USPS – Coastal Birds Postcard stamps and these Gifts of Friendship stamps with the lovely cherry blossom trees in DC illustrated.

Been loving the gold trend lately as well – got myself a Midori brass ruler, this Nate Berkus gold Swingline stapler and this gorgeous gold paper scissors that I have had my eye on from Angela Liguori.

I might have to get this trash bin for the office space since it’s brass-y.

Food favorites lately, anything Asian and spicy. Missing Singapore food again. Story of my life.

Drink favorite – Homemade Honey Milk Boba tea. Made with fresh boba.

I listened to this podcast episode that was featured on Love+Radio. It moved me. It’s a story about a mum who is learning to grow with her transgendered 7 year old daughter. My heart felt for this mum and I think that she is so very brave and amazing.

Lately I’ve been thinking about friendship again. I reconnected with an old friend but her life seems to always need attention that I feel that we never talk about me and how I do at all. Sigh. She is an old friend but this is an old habit. How do you find a balance with your friendships? I would like to be there for her but it just seems a bit one-sided. Do I tell her?

Spring is almost here, I’m counting down. 26 days to a sunny vacation. It’s been too long!

Friday Favorites

What’s not to love about Fridays? The sun came out this morning for about an hour and then rain fell hard. I was on the phone with some folks in Dallas who laughed when I told them about how it’s raining and grey here but only because I did not rub in the fact that it’s beautiful out here in the PNW. I didn’t want them to be envious.

I’m feeling much better today. Still a little foggy but am so glad it’s the weekend. And a long one.

Here are some things that has helped me through this week:

Matcha Coconut Oil and Honey Tea
I mix half a teaspoon of matcha powder with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of coconut oil into a dark green paste then add hot water. Stir well and it’s a delicious healthy drink. It’s not oily but makes the matcha richer. Wakes me up every morning.

Clementines or Baby Mandarin Oranges
We buy them by the bag and go through 2 bags every week. Sweet and tart and juicy. Helps to round off anything savory.

Broadchurch Season 2
I watched Season 1 a while ago and it was at times, difficult to stomach the pain that some of these characters carry but it was done so well and the acting was impeccable. It took me a while to get back into watching it because of how I empathize with the pain but Season 2 was even better. I just completed all 8 episodes this week. I like how UK series don’t try to overdo and extend their storyline until they “jump the shark” (Happy Days). Worth the watch.

Trader Joe’s Dried Pineapples
These are so sweet and taste very much like pineapples and not sugar. It would be good in a trail mix but on its own, they are a nice little healthy dessert. I like how they are sliced crosswise and when dehydrated, look like little crinkled chrysanthemums.

Homemade Boba Tea
I made some boba tea right after Whole30 with these slow cooked tapioca boba, some black tea, milk powder and honey. I was in boba heaven. This brand is recommended by boba aficionados so I bought some to try. The texture is wonderful.

It was a crazy week, not as bad as last week but I surrounded myself with things that made me happy. It helped with my perspective.

Feeling

I knew that it would happen. That I would fall sick after the recent stress at work and also holding my little guy close when he was not feeling well. My ears feel clogged and I feel a general malaise. Thanks, Fire Monkey, for bringing the blah!

We made it to the end of Whole30 just before Chinese New Year reunion dinner where we had a nice spread of food and desserts. But right after that dinner, we immediately went back to eating clean again. This time around (our 5th time), it was not so difficult to stay on it and we definitely acknowledged the benefits of eating better.

What made it easy:

  • All of us (mum joined us) were on the same menu/eating plan so we supported each other through the process and didn’t have to cook separate meals.
  • Preparing and planning for the meals on Sundays made us ready for the week.
  • I created a menu plan for each week and cooked accordingly. We made some big meals so that there would be leftovers for another day. That reduced the amount of cooking.
  • Cleared out our snack pantry and filled it with only healthy snacks like nuts, dates, plantain chips, seaweed, and jerky.
  • Have a repertoire of easy & quick meals that you can easily make. For us, ground beef with veggie stir-fry in Thai curry paste is a favorite, or sardines mashed with avocado mayo and wrapped in seaweed.

I’ve been enjoying these podcasts recently:

  • Dear Sugar – because I enjoy listening to how we can handle different relationship challenges
  • Being Boss – because I dream about being boss one day
  • Stuff You Should Know – because I am curious about stuff

Ok, back to bed for a nap…

Impact

The trouble with being the Prime Minister’s sister is, it does put your life into rather harsh perspective. What did my brother do today? He stood up and fought for his country. And what did I do? I made a papier maché lobster head.” – Love Actually

If you have watched the movie as many times as I have, you will probably remember Emma Thompson’s character say the above to her husband.

As I was browning some pork shoulder chunks in my new Instant Pot to make some chile verde, this quote struck me. It’s always been something that made me think, that somewhere someone is doing so much more and making such a difference in the world. Here I was, making a pot of stew. It’s not that it won’t be delicious or that my family would not enjoy it. I simply feel these days, that I need to make an impact, a difference with this one life that I have. Some days, I don’t feel like I am doing “all I can” to make lives better.

It’s not about being famous, I’d be happy to do it anonymously. I think it’s about making the most of one’s talents and time.

I’m sorry if this seems to be a sort of ramble. I felt like this was the best place to say this. To send this out into the universe so that maybe, it will be echoed back at me often. To remind me of this desire.

Who are we, if not measured by our impact on others? That’s who we are! We’re not who we say we are, we’re not who we want to be — we are the sum of the influence and impact that we have, in our lives, on others.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

3 weeks into the new year

Wow, I cannot believe how the first 3 weeks of 2016 have already passed us by.

There have been quite a few changes in my life (wellness, work, habits), while the important anchors (family, home, hobbies) are still present.

We started Whole30 about 11 days ago so I should be “killing all the things” but I am actually feeling the “tiger blood” phase sooner than expected. Sorry for the Whole30 jargon 🙂 basically, I am past the difficult phase of transition and I feel like my body is liking me better. And hello my new friend, black coffee!

Last weekend, I was at the company annual conference and experienced a really great speaker – Drew Dudley. You might have heard him on a TED talk but I enjoyed listening to him talk about how we can all be leaders in our world and what it really means to be a leader. Very inspiring.

I’m still listening to my podcasts and lately, a new favorite – Imaginary Worlds. If you love sci-fi and fantasy, this is for you.

Work stress is accumulating so I need to keep up with my Headspace sessions. I do feel it when I miss them.

At home, I’ve been rearranging my workspace. It’s not quite where I LOVE it but when I get it there, I’ll be sure to share a pic. You can see a part of it in my Instagram feed to the left.

Are you still reading here? If you are, I’d love to hear from you.

First Snow

We saw our first snowflakes this afternoon, it’s not cold enough to stick but I just enjoy watching those fat flakes fall. I look forward to some more snow since we are now closer to the mountains.

Mike is making pot roast with mashed potatoes, I’m salivating over my laptop.

I spent quite a bit of my afternoon researching left-handed brush hand lettering. I need to find some good but economical (since I’m still very much a rookie) round watercolor brushes. I also plan to starting using my new Tombow Dual Grayscale brush pens. A Christmas gift for myself.

I bought some practice sheets from Random Olive. It seems like a good place to start but I might also look into an online class. Maybe on Skillshare.

Some inspiring leftie type designers that I’ve been following on Instagram: Winston Scully, Neil Secretario and Matt Vergotis.

Another goal for 2016: to spend a little bit of time with the things that “spark joy”. (Thank you, Marie Kondo!)