October 20, 2013
by stef

2 years + 81 days


My dear boy,

I can’t believe how time flies every day and no matter how much I remind myself, I am still afraid that I forget to be grateful to be your momma. Some nights when I’m tired from a day of keeping up with you or exasperated by your obsession with your cars, I still find myself looking back at pictures that I have taken of you. I marvel at how quickly you learn and how you don’t want to be a baby anymore. You are only 2, my son, slow down a little.

You started carrying around your Lightning McQueen backpack a couple of weeks ago. You pile all of your cars into it and try with all your might to put it on your back. You funnily call it your “hand bag”.

Some of your favorite things to eat are bacon, sausage, chicken wings, curry, mushrooms and prawns. You love prawns. Just like I do. And you seem to be hungry a lot these days. I don’t think that 11 hours of sleep would leave anyone THAT hungry when they wake from it. Especially if they ate well just before they went to bed.

You are definitely honing your negotiation skills. With words and mostly, with the sprawl-on-floor-leg-kicking trick.

You put on your own boots, albeit mostly on the wrong foot.

You call everyone buddy and are very polite, especially when someone brings you food – “Thank you, buddy! It’s lunch!”

You are definitely favoring your daddy these days and you don’t know how happy that makes me to see you two together. The two people that I love most in this world.

I know that I will not be able to remember everything, even if I write them all down but my boy, you can be sure that momma cherishes every moment that she shares with you.


August 4, 2013
by stef


Sometimes, you are given something when you least expect it but it suddenly fills a need you didn’t realize was there. This poem did it for me tonight.

“Enough” by Danna Faulds

It’s enough to offer love, no matter how imperfectly received or given. It’s enough to try and fail at a difficult task; enough to fall and rise, stumble, fall again, sigh and start to walk, however slowly, in the direction the soul points. It’s enough to seek peace and find pain, to gain nothing but a vision of truth and take the long route home.

It’s enough to feel temptation, the dance of the senses, the hot pull of desire; enough to call on God, walk through fire, sleep and cry and fear or welcome dying. It’s enough to be and breathe, to feel the touch of wind on skin.

It’s enough to take the day as it comes, to watch the ripples on the lake as the rock sinks to the bottom, to see the wild reflection of the surface calm into a mirror once again. It’s enough to hear the voice of fear and hide – or seek it out and face the shame or shadows. It’s enough to set out to tame demons and watch them multiply instead. It’s enough to be buffeted by the winds of change and not blown over. I and you and all of us, more than enough.

June 29, 2013
by stef


50. That is the total number of pounds that I have lost and kept off for more than a year. That is a record. That is something I am very proud of and this new body is getting stronger every day. It does not matter that it took me almost 40 years to gain control of my body. I finally have control and will continue to let it attain its fullest potential.

When I started making changes to the way I ate and adding Crossfit to my life, I was met with varying responses. Many were supportive but more like “alright, good for you but we’ll be here when you fall” kind of support. Or maybe I was over-sensitive, since I have failed so many times in my life. I never kept the weight off or persisted in those other fitness endeavors before, why would I now?

I think a year is more than sufficient proof (to myself) that this change is here to stay. It may evolve as time goes on but my diet will always follow a primal template and exercise will always include strength and interval training, with elements of play.

Elisabeth Akinwale puts it perfectly:
“…if you have conviction about what you are doing, you must hold onto that as your shield against the naysayers. You are responsible for your body. You are responsible for your own health and happiness. How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals. People who really care about you should be uplifted by your joy, hard work and accomplishments.”

June 29, 2013
by stef


Most of us count our blessings around November. Don’t get me wrong, it is a perfect time for it. The year is winding down and we are thankful for everything it has brought us. I thought it would be refreshing to count my blessings half way through this year.

For second chances. For a chance at this life that I feel so lucky to have. No, I didn’t overcome a big health problem to get here but I did overcome an emotional block in my life. It was a path that I had to navigate in order to find myself today. I almost lost all that was good in my life but I have been fortunate to get another go at it. What a wonderful go it has turned out to be.

For my loyal and loving partner and best friend, Mike. He makes it so easy to be myself and I cannot thank him enough.

For my wonderful and very busy little boy, Sagan. He helps me learn more and more every day, about the world around us and especially about myself.

For my parents. Who are always quietly supportive in my every endeavor.

For a cosy and beautiful house that keeps us warm and safe. For continuing to inspire my eye for beauty and functionality at the same time.

For finding fitness through a wonderful community at Rocket Crossfit. I have not been this healthy or strong in my life.

For the time that I have been able to stay at home with Sagan. 2 years is such a blessing. It could continue but it’s time he get some time with more of his peers. He should wear some other folks out!

For friends, old and new, who always offer a listening ear and share their funny and/or inspiring stories. It makes a difference to know that you are not alone in this crazy thing called life. This includes my blog friends here.

For the rest of my family, I miss you all and even though we are apart, I always cherish memories we have made together.

For these and many more blessings, I am grateful.

October 28, 2012
by stef
1 Comment


For those of you waiting patiently for my AFTER picture of the dining/kitchen space, I am almost there. Thank you for waiting, it’s almost there. I just have to get that corner and the wall re-imagined. The pic above is just a teaser of our new dining pendant. If you are follow my Pinterest boards, you’ll know which one I picked.

For the wall, I decided to go with what I have, in terms of art. Since the wall is right behind the back door of the house, crowded shelves are  not a good idea. I had a shelf there before but it seemed too crowded. The kitchen cart and oven are going away and I will need to find a new spot for my rubber plant. I’m looking forward to the final reveal, just as much as you are.

In the kitchen, I’ve been making up different meat marinades. This weekend, I modified this marinade for some galbi/short ribs. Instead of sugar, I used kecap manis. It gave a good flavor and nice caramel color. Instead of pear, I used apple sauce. The sweetness of this marinade probably doesn’t make it paleo or primal. Still, it is so very tasty.

I also made some char siew/Chinese BBQ pork. Bee has a wonderful recipe that smells just like char siew should smell. I know that is an odd comment to make but you know how sometimes you try to recreate a flavor and you never quite know that secret ingredient/s? Bee shared a recipe that brings me home.

October 18, 2012
by stef
1 Comment

Project Renew Scarlett: Dining/Kitchen (Before)

Remember that fun design camp with AB Chao? Yes, she inspired a wealth of ideas and even though my one big project that I brought to her and the group was my master bedroom, I saw “low hanging fruit” in my dining and kitchen.

This is how things look like now – the BEFORE. I have notated the changes that I am going to make but just in case it is too small to read, here is the list:

  • change pendant lighting over the island in the kitchen
  • change dining room rug (bye bye, FLOR, you were great for the time we needed you for.)
  • move the ceiling fan to a different spot in the family room and replace with giant pendant light (with a dimmer! You’ll be proud, AB!)
  • redefine problem wall/corner near the back door – new art for the walls, probably a collage of favorite food-related prints or cookbooks.

I have received and gathered the items that will be going into these changes but I have not made any changes yet. I promise an AFTER picture and believe me, I am so very excited!

September 24, 2012
by stef

Fall is in the air

S is watching M drive up and get out of his car. I love this face. I am so happy that I was able to capture this expression. It truly shows how much he loves his daddy.

Yikes, my last post was about summer and now it’s already fall. Has it become that I only blog 4 times a year, around the change of seasons? Oh boy. I really want to get back into writing here. I find that it was a really good way to share my life and find like-minded friends who get what I’m trying to say. I recently met 2 blog friends who inspired me to start my blog way back in 2003. It was amusing to hear that when asked by others what types of blogs we had, we said we had blogs when people talked about everything and their feelings. It is interesting to see how blogs have evolved. I don’t want da*xiang to change, I want it to reflect my life. Things are busy right now but so very good.

Recently, I went to Design Camp with AB Chao. She is fabulous and so cool, with tons of ideas and fun tips on redecorating one’s space. Because of that camp, I have launched Project Renew Scarlett. There is a long list of things that I would love to get done but we all know that it requires time and money. I’ll have to prioritize. My initial plan was to start working on the master bedroom but that would require a lot of time than I have right now so I am going to start with some low-hanging fruit. I’ll change up the dining room – a new pendant to make the space more intimate, a new rug and some new pieces of art. My Pinterest boards should be starting to display my ideas soon.

We are still on this primal eating wagon. It’s been so good for us. We now have the required energy to chase a very mobile and destructive 14 month old. We’ve been grilling our meats but the cooler weather begs for braised goodness. I started by braising a pork shoulder in milk. Saveur has several braising ideas here.

Just this weekend, my girlfriend brought Sagan their play kitchen. He loves it and I can’t wait until he would bring me a tray of cookies or some bacon and eggs from his fry pan. To help him along, I’m going to make him some of this felt food.

I am looking forward to putting together my autumn/fall collage soon but in the meantime, I hope you kiss summer goodbye and embrace fall as it arrives. Because how else will we get to another summer.

August 17, 2012
by stef


Weeks during the summer seem to fly by more quickly than others. We are having a Seattle heat wave right now but it barely reaches 90 degrees, so no complaints! This year, we bought a portable air conditioning unit and it makes things so much better. We retreat into the bedroom early in the evening, usually after a post-workout shower. Cool air and rest after some hard work really feels good.

Last weekend, I celebrated a milestone birthday. The big 4-0. I didn’t feel traumatized. I actually felt invigorated and excited for the next decade. Honestly, I am in the best shape of my life. I have so much energy even with waking up once or twice a night for Sagan. He doesn’t keep me up but it’s sometimes hard to fall back to sleep. There is still quite a ways to go in terms of meeting my fitness goals but I feel so much stronger and fitter.

Mike and I also got done with our Whole30 this past week. It was a good challenge that we undertook together with some members of our Crossfit box. We were already on our primal way of eating but Whole30 was much stricter – no sugar, no alcohol and no dairy. I really missed my cheese. I didn’t miss my alcohol. I love a good cocktail but I did not feel deprived. Sometimes just having the option is enough for me.

Sagan turned one 2 weeks ago. He is already walking, my friends. Walking more than he crawls. How did he suddenly become a toddler? Such a big boy. He loves anything with wheels on them – trucks, cars, motorbikes, shopping carts and even garage doors. We does his rounds in the morning, opening and closing every cabinet door in my kitchen. He opens them, pulls out one or two things and then leaves them open. Most of the time, I just navigate around them and then do a little “closing” after he’s done his rounds and goes off in a different direction. I do this a few times a day. He loves to eat eggs, cheese, sausage, hamburgers, applesauce, peaches, blueberries, oatmeal, yogurt, crackers and dried apricots. He is starting to transition to cow’s milk but is still nursing in the evenings and before naps. He still is not a fan of sleeping in. He wakes up by 5.30am, raring to go. Just like someone I know, someone he calls “da-dee”. He says quite a few words now, like “da-dee”, “neh neh” (for milk or me), “ma ma” (for me or grandma – the tone is different), “pa pa” (for grandpa), “fow-fuh” (flower), “bot bot” (robot), “bux” (box), “drin drin” (rolling his Rs, when he wants some water) and “duck” (truck). He does love his daddy. I love to watch the both of them together – M would toss him in the air, hang him upside down and rough-house with him, S would just giggle and laugh with so much excitement. He drinks from a sippy cup or a Camelbak bottle. That way I don’t worry when I forget his cup. He can always take my Camelbak bottle. In fact, he prefers it. He just wants to be all grown up. I can go on and on about him but I have to go. He is being quiet and usually that means he’s having a moment that will require a diaper change or getting stuck in something.

We leave for our first family road trip tomorrow. Just a weekend to Portland where delicious eats await. Can you say Pok Pok? And Salt & Straw? Also, since S goes down to bed early in the evening, we’re packing a lovely indoor picnic when we get there. I hear the charcuterie at Olympic Provisions are to die for. Meat, cheese, olives, wine and some fruit. Perfect summery fare.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

July 19, 2012
by stef
1 Comment

Roasted cremini mushrooms

Use your favorite oil (I used olive oil and ghee), season with kosher salt, granulated garlic and ground black pepper. Stick under broiler for 12 minutes at about 400 deg F.

Perfect side dish for any paleo/primal meal.

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