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.


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…


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!)

December Rewind

I wanted to do a quick rewind for December since I completely forgot about posting. I post more frequently on Instagram and Twitter. It’s just much easier to snap and post with my new iPhone 6s Plus. I wasn’t sure if I wanted such a big phone but now that I have it, I am so happy with it.

Work kept me busy as usual but the last 2 weeks were a little slower since most people were out on vacation.

The first weekend saw us celebrating our 13 years together at a winery in Quincy WA. It was such a fun time to spend with only each other – wine tasting, hot stone massages and a languorous dinner with more wine.

Vines resting for the wintertime #stefmike13

A photo posted by @astromei on

I actually returned to the kitchen quite a bit too. I haven’t really been cooking as much in the last 2 years. I still do simple meals but nothing elaborate. I have not been inspired. This past month, the baking bug bit me. I made peanut butter cookies, coconut macaroons and bacon gingersnaps. All delicious if I might say so myself.

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps, thanks to @seriouseats

A photo posted by @astromei on

We celebrated our first Feast of Seven Fishes. It was our excuse to eat good seafood on Christmas Eve. We made chorizo-stuffed squid, smoked oyster pate, smoked salmon canapés, seared scallops, baked shrimp scampi, Dungeness crab and black-bean sautéed Manila clams. SO good!

Christmas morning was filled with Sagan’s excitement. He is really into Christmas. It’s the perfect age. The rest of the time was quiet but staying in pajamas, listening to music, and watching movies made it perfect.

Then we went and watched the new Star Wars movie. I am still reeling from it. I felt like an 8 year old all over again.

Last night was another New Year’s Eve that we stayed in. However, there were no fireworks audible in our new place. That was refreshing. I kissed Mike just before midnight and just before we fell asleep, Sagan woke with complaints of growing pains. Poor little guy. (He’s fine now, it just comes occasionally in the night)

I think that brings us up to today, Jan 1 2016. Happy New Year, my friends! So far today, I’ve gone to the grocery store so we can have some good eats this weekend, undressed the Christmas tree and put away the decorations. Now I’m sitting down to finish up this post and continue binge-watching “How to Get Away with Murder”.

HAPPY 2016! This year, I seek to LIVE, LEARN and LOVE!

Orange Spice Banana Bread

I don’t know how long it has been since I have posted a recipe here on daxiang but here is a quick bread recipe that I modified to include some seasonal spices and ingredients (adapted from this recipe from Running With Spoons).

Yields: 1 loaf

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
½ tsp. sea salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 large, ripe banana
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter your loaf pan.
2) Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl and stir to blend evenly.
3) Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
4) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stir to combine.
5) Once it is mixed in well, pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 mins.