Tarantula happy dance

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It always amuses me that tarantulas weave their web by doing what looks like a happy dance. This one just got a cricket to eat and is repairing parts of her web.

tarantula dance from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Love With Food Smile, Your Snacks Have Arrived September 2014 review

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I haven’t been super impressed with LWF so I actually cancelled my subscription, but since I bought the 6-month one, I’ll still be getting a few more boxes through the end of the year. Three of the items were exact repeats from a previous box! Definitely not what I want to see.

Love With Food is $12 per box (or as discounted as $120 for an entire year, with an option in between) and comes with 8 or more snack products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral program that earns you points towards products or boxes.

contents of september 2014 love with food box including seven snacks info card with details for september 2014 love with food snacks collage of offer cards included in september 2014 love with food box(click to enlarge and read messaging)

It took me awhile to get that the theme was about smiling. I guess they couldn’t come up with a fall theme. The repeat items were the Skeeter Nut Free Cinnamon Grahams (great crunch and taste), the YumEarth fruit snacks (tasty, but small sample), and the 180 Degrees Nutty Rice Bites with Blueberries (not my thing).

The Desert Gardens Spinach Dip Mix should make a nice. I’m really looking forward to brewing the Revolution Tea Southern Derby Sample Pack at work. There are three flavors included: Honeybush Caramel Herbal Tea (whoa, intriguing), Tropical Green Tea, and Southern Mint Herbal Tea. I certainly love drinking tea and I love their bags.

I tried the Vintage Italia Marinara Pasta Chips and loved their strong taste! Panda complained about the garlic smell, but I’m all about that tomato flavor. These taste a bit grainy, like they’re made with whole wheat (they’re actually made with semolina flour – no idea what that is). As for the Terre Di Puglia Tarallino Snack, it was not as tasty as I had hoped. I found it to be rather bland, though the cookie shape is cute.

I’m pretty pleased with the non-repeat products here, so I really wish I’d been introduced to more snacks. I’m most excited about the tea! What did you like in this box? Any favorites?

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box at the special offer price and wanted to share what I got!]

Julep Jewel Heist Mystery Box review

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I skipped the September box, so I was looking forward to a mystery box that I might want. When I saw the Jewel Heist one, I was intrigued enough to order it! I would definitely have loved to win the whole birthstone collection. I only have one of those colors right now.

Julep mystery boxes are just under $25 per box and come with a mix of polish colors and beauty products. These are one-time orders and do not require a subscription.

julep jewel heist mystery box email with $100+ worth of products for $25

julep jewel heist mystery box contents including mask noir, double duty makeup brush, green tea blotting papers, gel eyeliner, lengthening mascara, and polish in alma

Great selection of items overall, though that polish color is ick.

julep mask noir peel-off mask with power cell complex

Mask Noir
Yes! This has been on my wishlist, so I’m very happy to get it. I love masks.

julep double duty makeup brush and polish in alma from trina turk fall '12 collection

Double Duty Makeup Brush & polish in Alma
I had no idea what kind of brush this is meant to be, but I love having another tool to use. Turns out it’s two brushes in one! As for the polish… it’s from 2012 and it’s not an attractive color at all.

julep green tea facial blotting papers

Green Tea Facial Blotting Papers
I’m a fan of these even if I always forget to use them. They smell amazing and I’ll try to make good use of them!

julep ink gel eyeliner in jet black

Ink Gel Eyeliner in Jet Black
Oh, dilemma. I’d like to try this, but I’d never use this much and I don’t even have a brush to apply it with. Should I trade or try?

julep boho glam lengthening mascara in espresso brown

Boho Glam Lengthening Mascara in Espresso Brown
This came in a previous mystery box, so it’ll go up for trade. They must have a lot of overstock!

I definitely like the value of the box and the selection of items overall, even if I wouldn’t use them all. I sure wish they’d picked a better polish color (and one not so obviously from years ago). I certainly would have loved to win one of the prizes this time!! Oh well, here’s to next time.

Estimated value: $121 (Mask Noir $32, Double Duty Makeup Brush $28, Nail Color $14, Green Tea Facial Blotting Papers $10, Ink Gel Eyeliner $22, Lengthening Mascara $24) or $96.80 at Maven prices (20% off)

Join as a Julep Maven to get polishes sent to you monthly! Use code FREEBOX or FREEMAVEN to get the first box free (you pay shipping).

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Serviced out

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This weekend was pretty brutal for my mind and voice. I spent pretty much all of Saturday and then half of Sunday dealing with customer service folks and I am pooped. I sure hope I don’t have to do these kinds of marathons again.

It started off Saturday morning with a trip to the DMV. You see, I got a ticket on my car at the parking lot at work on 9/11. Apparently my plates had expired, which I had no clue about since I hadn’t received the notice in the mail and this would be the first time I needed to do this since moving to Virginia and getting this car. So I drove to work on Friday with the ticket so I could place it back on my windshield to avoid possibly getting ticketed again for the same infraction. Saturday, I had Panda drive us to the DMV to take care of the registration. I think it took us 2 hours, which actually isn’t so bad for the DMV. It was freezing though, so it was rather uncomfortable. I didn’t get this cold weather memo and apparently neither did the DMV’s cooling unit.

After we got home from that, I saw an email from AT&T. I had ordered the iPhone 6 from them Friday morning so I could be one of the first to receive it this upcoming Friday 9/19. But then this email says my expected delivery date is 9/23-10/2. I was not happy about that, especially since my confirmation had originally said on or about 9/19. I would not consider as week or two later to be “on or about” if it really did end up being that late. Luckily, I still had my backup plan in place, so I was able to cancel my order and get the locked in delivery date through Apple. More on that in another post.

There were complications on the way that nearly forced me to have the device delivered to my parents’ place in CA. Ultimately it took a good 3 live chats with Apple, 2-3 phone calls to AT&T, and two phone calls to Apple (the last of which had me on hold for an hour, yeesh) over the course of two days to resolve this. Happily, I did manage to get the best outcome and my phone is guaranteed to come in just three more days!

After dealing with that for part of Sunday morning and afternoon, I then had a set of requests to speak to Chase about regarding a new credit card I’d received. By the end of it all, I did not want to speak to another customer service person again. Not that the experiences were bad, but gosh it’s such a hassle to try to explain the situation and figure out a resolution time and time again. My throat hurts and I don’t want to think anymore.

In the mean time, Panda and I are both addicted to those numbers games like Threes and 2048, so that’s been taking up all our time now.

Fabletics Temps Outfit (Omemee Tank + Salar Capri) review

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So I had some credit sitting around in my account and I wanted to redeem an outfit with those points. I ended up coming across the Temps outfit and going for it. I figured I could use another top that also works for casual wear and an extra pair of capris to round it out.

Fabletics is just under $50 per outfit credit and comes with a 2- or 3-piece set of athletic wear. Each month, three outfits are selected for you to choose from at the 1 outfit credit price point. You can always get other outfits at their VIP pricing of $50-80 (2- and 3- pieces available) or buy any individual item separately. Outfits are sent monthly unless you choose to skip (which is very easy to do). They offer a referral program that earns you money towards free outfits.

Get your first outfit for half off with my referral link! All fitted Fabletics items are chafe-resistant and feature four-way stretch for comfort and movement.

collage of front, back, and inside of fabletics omemee tank in pink grapefruit heather

Omemee Tank in Pink Grapefruit Heather

This tank is all at once casual yet dressy. While it’s not dressed up exactly, the look and feel of it is fancier than most tanks. I enjoy the asymmetry that gives it more character! The built-in bra makes it an easy choice to throw on whenever. Perfect for hanging out in at home or running errands. I like how much freedom the shoulder blades get in this one, so no amount of sun salutations would affect the back. I definitely like these types of tops for my yoga practice. Retail value for this is listed as $34.95.

collage of front, back, and hidden pocket of fabletics salar capri in pink grapefruit stripe

Salar Capri in Pink Grapefruit Stripe

I was really hoping this shade would be vastly different from the Salar leggings I have. Turns out it’s pretty much the same, so now I have them in legging and capri styles. I’m not too sure how this works for me, but I’ll keep it around and see if I find myself wearing capris more. I do like the new mesh being used for the hidden pocket. It’s a fun little detail that I certainly appreciate. I kind of wish they had another color I liked in my size when I chose my outfit. Listed retail value for this is $39.95.

This outfit was very grapefruit-y! I love the top and I’ll probably use the bottoms, though maybe I’ll try to trade them. Most likely I will just wear them around the house on weekends. Interested in trying an outfit too? Sign up for Fabletics to get your first outfit for just $25!

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I'd be ever so grateful. :) All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this outfit and wanted to share what I got!]

Where are you from?

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It starts off as an innocent (and usually simple) question. “Where are you from?” asks the person meeting you for the first time. For most people, a city or country name will suffice to bring about a certain level of understanding regarding their background.

But for me, this is a truly complicated question. Do you mean where am I from ethnically? Do you mean where I am from as in where I’m living right now? Do you mean where I am from as in where I grew up? Do you mean where I am from as in where I identify with most and consider home? I mean, really, this is a loaded question dressed up in innocence. The poor people asking me that question never know what’s coming until they’re knee deep in my explanation. So let’s break this down bit by bit.

To start, the easiest answer I have is when I am traveling abroad. Then I can say either the US or China, based on if the asker wants to know where my family heritage is or where I grew up. Since I’m in another country, I don’t have to explain in as much detail and general answers like that work. But when I’m in the US and people ask me, it’s too broad to just say “United States” – they’ll want to know what state, what city even.

Where am I from? If you mean my ethnic background, my familial “roots” then the answer is China. More specifically Northern China and even more specifically, Shenyang in Liaoning Province. This drills down enough that those familiar with Chinese geography and culture will know right away some basic things: I am from a Mandarin-speaking area, I probably have some Mongol in me, and there are certain slang terms specific to my region that I may use. This also explains why I often get mistaken for Korean – we are very close to (both) Korea(s) and people living in the same region tend to look alike. However, this doesn’t mean I’m truly Chinese. I’m certainly nothing like those who grew up there.

Where am I from? If you mean where I’m living now, then I would have said California, Southern California, Los Angeles, or Valencia. Do I feel like I am Californian or an Angeleno? Yeah, by now I do, since I’d been in the area on and off for a decade. I didn’t grow up here though, so I don’t consider it anything more than my most recent home that felt like it. For now, I’m still not connected enough with Virginia to think of this as my real home, even if my beloved condo, husband, and cat are here.

Where am I from? If you mean where I grew up, oh boy. I didn’t grow up in one place – which do I choose? I really can’t pick, since I spent an average of 3 years in each throughout my childhood before moving on to the next. First, 3.5 years in China, then about 2 years in Pennsylvania, then 3 years in Kansas, 1 year in China, 1 year back in Kansas, 2.5 years in Missouri, 3.5 years in New York, 4 years in California (2 in Valencia, 2 in Westwood/UCLA), 1 year in England, 2 years in California, 0.5 years in Singapore, 2 years in California again (El Segundo), and then back and forth between CA and Virginia for 1.5 years until my most recent 1 year in Virginia. Do I feel Mid-Western, as my 7 years there would suggest? No. Do I feel like an East Coaster? Certainly not. Do I feel like a West Coaster? Only in more recent years.

Where am I from? If you mean where I identify with the most, where my childhood memories are, where I consider home… I really don’t know. I can’t pick a single place, whether a city, a state, or even a region. For my adult life, it has mostly been the greater Los Angeles area, within about 50 miles. But my childhood? There is just too much of a story there to give a simple answer. And then of course I am now officially moved to Virginia, giving me yet another piece to the identity puzzle.

Who knew such a seemingly straightforward question would create so much havoc in my attempt to answer.

iPhone 6 countdown

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It’s almost time to order the newest iPhone and I can hardly wait!! I’ve been waiting eagerly for a year, ever since hearing about the 5S and knowing that the 6 would only be better. Now we’re getting close to that 12:01 PDT deadline. I’m going to bed and hope l wake up to my alarm. Should have slept two hours ago, oh well! I just need to get through one more intense day and I can crash.

[update] Well, I set an alarm for 2:40 EDT and then foolish lay there thinking I had time. I ended up falling asleep until about 3:27 and then scrambling to go order. First I tried the Apple Store app, but it said my product was unavailable. I suppressed panic as I tried the AT&T app (stuck on a landing page about how they’ll be ready soon) and then pulled up the website. Things kept freezing, error messages cropped up a few times, and I started over half a dozen times. Ultimately the best path seemed to be logging in to my AT&T account and then clicking the prompt there to check my upgrade eligibility. The pages there looked a bit different, but I chose my space gray 64 GB iPhone 6 and was able to check out with no further glitches!

screenshot of ordering process for iphone 6 at at&t wireless

I have an order confirmation page, but I don’t see an email confirmation yet and when I go back to my account, the line upgrade doesn’t seem to register (so in theory I could accidentally double-order if I tried the process again). I’m paranoid that this isn’t totally official and/or I won’t get my shipment next Friday when they first go out. The confirmation page has a spot for the date and it’s blank, though when ordering it specified the Sept 19th date. I guess we’ll just have to see if I am fortunate enough to get it on schedule. I sure hope my order is early enough in the queue! Still, I’m not feeling confident enough to sleep just yet.

part of confirmation message from at&t for iphone 6 order

Video editor extraordinaire

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Too tired to type much today. Meetings back to back today, demoing for customers, coordinating with partners, and filming for the sales conference tomorrow. In between I started editing the video clips to make them better. Didn’t even have time for a restroom break for a 2.5-hour stretch. Next two days are jammed with conference stuff (internal training for the sales team). I’ll be a video master by the end of this.

Tonight I edited the ones we need first tomorrow. Too tired to finish the rest. At least I have less talking the rest of the week. My throat hurts.

Work anniversary

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It’s my one-year anniversary at Canvas! Hard to believe, since it has felt like many years already, given the massive changes and wealth of experiences so far. Things are completely different now, including the office we’re in, the team/department I’m part of, the teams I work with, the roles I undertake, and my ever-expanding responsibilities. What a ride! We’ll see what the next couple of months bring. Will it be intense as usual or will it simmer down a bit?

Also on this happy day was the Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 that I have been eagerly awaiting for over a year. Ever since they announced the iPhone 5S, I’ve been wondering what the 6 would bring and when I could finally upgrade. The thing I’m most looking forward to is the Touch ID, so I don’t have to deal with passcodes to unlock my phone. Of course I’m also happy to see continued improvements on the camera options and many other things as well, but that’s the feature that came with 5S that I really wanted.

Two auspicious things coincided today and I look forward to what the future has to hold.

The man in my dream

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[I started writing this the day after I woke up from this dream back on 7/26, but I only recently finished it.]

I had a dream last night.

Of a man who picked me up on my way home from work and led me on this fantastical voyage. He was charming and sweet and blonde and rich. Somehow he managed to be a mash-up of some of the men from my past. He drove a Mercedes, which none of them did though. There was the one who drove some sort of Cadillac, another with a Ford truck, the Bentley guy… even one with a family yacht. But this guy, he drove a Mercedes and he struck up a conversation with me as I was walking along a hallway lined with large glass windows on one side. It seemed we worked together and were friendly. I had the impression that I was heading out for the day, but the sun was high in the sky and the welcome rays streamed in to the hallway as we walked.

Physically, he reminded me of a cross between a teacher I had in high school and a man I met in Whole Foods. Personality-wise, he reminded me of a flirtatious friend or two. Somehow he convinced me to take a ride with him in his car instead of heading home. So off we went, driving down a small country road as the breeze swept my hair and the sun warmed our faces. We were exploring the region, down quaint two-lane roads lined with fields of green. He drove me to some place in the middle of this landscape, where all my long-lost friends were. It was a town of sorts where my friends from high school and previous jobs were, together and mingling. The scene was reminiscent of a part of a canyon that I was at for boot camp for AFJROTC one year. It was a sweet reunion, as I happily caught up with some of those friends.

He then took me to a little cozy brunch spot, where we got to enjoy breakfast foods. (Was this day somehow going backwards? Don’t ask me why we were eating brunch midday supposedly after work.) The meal wrapped up with a surprise treat. A rare, fancy dessert that apparently is part of a classier lifestyle. It was as if we were celebrating something. At this point I noticed some coworkers eating in the same establishment. They were eyeing my luxurious dessert with envy. There I was, being shown the finer things in life and rather confused as to how I got into that situation in the first place. Still, I wasn’t about to complain. I was enjoying myself.

Before I knew it, we were wrapping up our grand adventure at a hotel spa later that day. In front of us lay a giant tub brimming with a steaming herbal bath. This is when I really started to question his motives. The day had started off innocently and with a friendly undertone. Somehow as the events progressed, it got more and more suggestive. Then this. The assumption was that we would bathe together. As I stood there taking in the scene, pondering whether I should go for it, I woke up.

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