Posts Tagged ‘family’

365great Day 259: holidays

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,
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365great challenge day 259: holidaysHolidays are a time for people to celebrate, remember, and connect. They also make for a wonderful reprieve from the daily patterns of weeks gone by. They’re the perfect excuse for a vacation, whether a quick one over a long weekend or an extended one stretching for a week or more. For ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are ripe with traditions and they’re an important time for families to unite. For many years now I only get a chance to spend time with my parents around this time, so it’s a time of year that I always enjoy. We often try to travel together to make it even more special, but hanging around at home is quite nice too. This year, that’s all I want since I’m so far from home I don’t get to stay much anymore. It’s great when we get to take some time off to reconnect with our loved ones.

Home for Thanksgiving!

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Happy Turkey Day! I’m thankful to be home. 🙂

It was a strange feeling yesterday to show up to work with half the office out, then work a short day. I left around 4:30 and ended up taking a nap when I got home. I woke up about two hours later and tried to get some work done. Between attempting to blog, chatting with Panda, and getting distracted by the news, I had a busy night. Before I knew it, the night had passed me by and Panda was settling in for some shuteye before our flight. I kept working and at 3:30 I decided that it wasn’t worth it to try to sleep, so I took a shower and started to get ready. I pretty much had nothing to pack since I’ve got everything I need at home, so I decided to treat myself by bringing my sherpa blanket with me. Panda got up at 4:50 and we were outside by 5:15, right as the taxi showed up.

flying over colorado mountains covered in snow

Hello somewhere in Colorado.

As soon as we got on the plane, I settled in with my blankets and drifted off to sleep. When I awoke, I felt like we should be nearly there, but it was only 10:30 EST… we were flying over Colorado with two more hours to go. This is the first time I’ve actually felt hot on a plane ride, so I’m definitely going to try to bring my blanket with me for all future travel purposes, if there’s room. I hate having cold feet! After playing some games on my phone and catching a few more Zs, we started our descent. We arrived a good half hour early and got picked up by our respective families. My mom and cousin came to get me since my dad’s back is not doing so well. It was great to see my family again and I had a good time catching up with my dad. Soon after, I got a chance to do what I’ve been missing for months: play with Missy! She’s my baby and loves me the most – probably because I’m the only one who scratches her neck, rubs her face, and lets her sit/sleep on me all she wants. I took some time to go through my things at home to prepare items to move. Tons of memories to come! It’s weird being home; I feel different out here. It’s like my life out here is completely separate from that of my life out east. It’s surreal being back and I hope to really relax during this time. 🙂 And now I’ll some of my day in pictures…

cat sitting on sofa back

I got home to find a sleepy, confused Molly. “Who are you again?”

cat playing under person's legs staring out

Missy ran in and out of my legs for awhile as we played in the yard.

cat laying on person's arm sleeping

Pretty soon, she found her way to my lap and took a nap.

cat sleeping on person's chest

Eventually I went up to my room and Missy decided to join me for a nap.

thanksgiving turkey fresh out of oven

It’s turkey time! My mom made a delicious turkey.

collage of thanksgiving meal laid out and dishes with food

We always have a Chinese American turkey day, with turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and random Chinese vegetable dishes.

cat sitting on person's lap at dinner table

Whenever I’m eating, Missy likes to come sit on my lap. I then end up sitting there for hours because I don’t want to move her.

scratching cat's chin

Missy loooves being scratched – under the chin, behind the ears, along the neck, on her back… it’s all good!

cat sneaking a taste of thanksgiving turkey

She’s a naughty girl who likes to sneak a taste of our food! I eventually had to hide the turkey in the oven.

cat sniffing pineapple and rubbing teeth on leaves

She loves to use pineapples as an after dinner mint/floss. Gotta keep that breath fresh!

365great Day 235: fireplaces

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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365great challenge day 235: fireplacesThe crackling of a fireplace is a really soothing sort of sound to snuggle up near. Add in the welcoming warmth and rich wood smell for a wonderfully comforting experience. Throw in a blanket, good book, and hot chocolate and you may never get me to leave. I also have some lovely memories of singing karaoke with my parents as the fireplace heated up our living room in the St. Louis winter. I don’t have a fireplace anymore, but I get a chance to hang out by one I always enjoy that nice slow pace. It’s so easy to kick back and relax next to a fireplace and let the rest of the world slip away. I wish I had one to use for this upcoming winter! The office sure could use some extra heat. 😛 Wouldn’t that be fun? I’d love to work next to a fireplace at work. It’s a great place to clear my mind and get some work done.

365great Day 185: soup

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Learn more about 365great here.

365great challenge day 185: soupI love soup. Hot & sour, chicken noodle, egg drop… if it comes out steaming I probably like it. I like that it’s moist and hot so my mouth doesn’t feel dry and my stomach doesn’t get cold. It’s also such a healing type of food – perfect for when you’re under the weather. I also really enjoy noodle soups of all kinds, like tom yum and pho. Perhaps it’s because soups tend to be quite flavorful and salty, which is exactly how I like my food. Or it might just be that it’s less effort to drink than chew, haha. My favorite thing as a kid was always what I referred to as “the family soup” – a blend of tomatoes, eggs, mushrooms, wood ears, yellow flowers, and sometimes other random vegetables. In Chinese my parents and I called it “tomato soup” and we always knew that the family version was what we were talking about. Most of the time when my mom asked me what I wanted to eat, I’d request the family soup. It was one of those things that I loved to drink even on a hot summer day, as I sweated and practically panted through the meal. For the ease of consumption and soothing properties, soup is great.

Toothpaste preferences

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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No, I’m not talking about what brand of toothpaste you like to use. Perhaps more accurately I’m wondering about your toothpaste tube squeezing preferences.

collage of toothpaste tubes squeezed randomly versus neatlyYou see, I’m a bit OCD about my toothpaste tubes and they must be neatly squeezed toward the top of the tube, with the empty part flat and usually folded over. I don’t know how I developed this particular preference since my parents don’t appear to do it. It drives me crazy when I use a tube that is just a misshapen glob, where squeezing it causes the toothpaste not just to come out the top slowly, but sometimes even pushes some of it further back into the tube. Panda’s the type to also let his toothpaste tubes run wild and I’ll find it looking like the one on the left. I then carefully squeeze everything towards the lid and flatten out the bottom. Usually I’ll use a rubber band to keep the flap folded over so his next squeeze doesn’t undo my work.

Am I weird to be so picky about this? I can’t help it; it’s just something I have to fix. What is your toothpaste tube squeezing preference? Do you even have one?

Our new condo, almost a done deal!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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What a productive morning! Panda’s dad came in on a red-eye and we picked him up around 7:45. We drove him up to our second choice condo just so he could see what the neighborhood looked like and get an idea of what we’re comparing to. After spending some time there, we headed to our first choice, where we were set to meet the sales rep at 10. We decided to show up early so we could show him the community and explain the layout of everything prior to delving into the property more. Just as we were checking out the entryway to the model house that has the same layout as our ideal unit, the sales rep showed up and let us in.

panoramic of living and dining room area of model home

What our future living space will look like.

We spent a good hour going over all the features, analyzing every possible detail and feature. I took a bunch of pictures to share with our family back home so we can fully explain and help them visualize what it’s like to be in that space. Then we proceeded to get into the negotiation, where we laid out the various features that we wanted thrown in. There was a ton of conversation over what was possible, what wasn’t, what was worth it, etc. We also went over to the preferred lender, who showed us what our new numbers would look like now that we’ve decided we’re going to pull together the 20% down to avoid mortgage insurance. With those numbers in mind, we were back to the sales rep to hash out final offers and ultimately came to a good compromise. As long as the big boss approves it, we’re good to go!

We’re going to be family #46 to join (not counting the families already living in the units built by other buildings on the property) and I can’t wait! They estimate our building will be completed in November, so I think we might be in by the holidays. So that begs the question: should we go home for the holiday season or have our families come spend time here with us? We’ll have to see as the time draws closer, but I think it’d be really fun to have a house warming by bringing in our folks.

I’m pretty confident our deal will go through, but I’ve still got my fingers crossed! You never know what might happen before the final approval.

What’s in your fridge?

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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Much like finding out what is in your purse or your medicine cabinet, seeing what is in your fridge can be an interesting insight into your life. I know one thing that distinguishes our household’s fridge from most others in the modern world: the lack of alcohol. I’d imagine most homes have at least a wine or a beer chilling in there, but not us. My dad’s the only one who drinks alcohol at all and not all that much. In fact, I don’t think we ever had alcohol in our household until I was in college. Neither Panda nor I drink, so if you ever see alcohol in our fridge, it’s someone else’s (or we got it for them).

Well, what is in our fridge? Let’s take a look:

fridge door open with contents showing

Let’s start with the door, which has eggs, salad dressing, soda, marinated mushrooms, pickles, and peanut butter. I don’t think there’s ever a time that we are without eggs. They’re a great food item to eat in the mornings, throw in a soup or noodle soup to add protein, or boil and use as a snack. Definitely a staple in my household. Also very important are the mushrooms and pickles – I love love love just about anything brined, salted, preserved, etc. Usually this meas pickles and marinated mushrooms, but I also enjoy kimchi, preserved radishes, and more. This particular bottle of soda was actually free due to a promotion Pepsi is doing for their Pepsi Next product – usually I’d have real Coke or Dr. Pepper and Pepsi cans. The peanut butter is not mine… I’m not a fan.

Then you can see in the body of the fridge, it’s pretty empty. At this stage, Panda and I still eat out quite a bit so there are a bunch of takeout boxes from the leftovers we had at Olive Garden. We love their 2 for $25 deal! You get so much food to eat while there AND there’s plenty of leftovers for the next meal and the next next meal. I also have a bag of black pepper turkey from the deli section, since I don’t eat much meat and Panda thinks I should consume more. We’ve got a nice half of a watermelon left, plus some oranges at the bottom (you can see one peeking through). I don’t eat fruit nearly as much as I probably should and watermelon is just about the only fruit I can eat a ton of. We’re also not so great on the vegetable side of things, so the corn helps out. It’s so easy to gobble down one of them and feel good that you’ve eaten something vegetable-like (I mean, is corn actually a vegetable? Close enough!).

And now let’s peek into the freezer!

looking into open household freezer with contents showing

Ice cream is a must, no matter what the season. You never know when you might want some chilled goodness. Other than that, we like to fill up with various microwavable items that I can easily heat up for a snack or lunch. We recently stocked up on these and got some taquitos in addition to the Hot Pockets, pot pies, chicken kebabs, and (hidden) bowls of wonton noodles. When you’re lazy and not a very skilled cook, the microwave is your friend. I sure wouldn’t know what to do without it!

So what do you have in your fridge and freezer?

Those artsy folk

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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collage of four different blogs with white backgrounds and bright colors

A few examples of those bright blogs with pretty pictures.

I’ve been following a lot of bloggers lately and they all seem to be so similar – happily married women enjoying life as a wife and mother, with loving husbands who may not get their blogging but support it, and a keen eye for design/fashion/beauty. They tend to have very nice, clean-cut, fresh-looking blogs with white backgrounds and cute, colorful themes/icons. Oh, and I don’t know if it’s just coincidence or what but they’re pretty much all Caucasian, with a few exceptions. More recently I also stumbled across a subset of these who are expats living and working abroad, usually with their spouse.

Then there’s me. I travel a good amount, but I’m not living abroad (unless you count China as my home base). I am not married nor do I have children, though I am engaged and will probably reach that stage in a few years. All of my blog themes of choice have been darker; I don’t think I ever had a white background. My space feels more “crowded” and less clean (much like my room). Generally there are some Asian-inspired elements as well. I’ve yet to see any other blog quite like mine and I’m not sure I’d ever want a blog just like those gals. On the other hand, I’m similar in that I’m also in a good relationship (but I’m only beginning to learn about all this domestic stuff – I don’t do home improvement projects or cook or do crafts like most of these ladies).

In a way, I’m jealous of these women. They’re so good at photography and portray things so beautifully, in ways I may never. But at the same time, I like being different. I like how my blog reflects my Asian heritage. I like that my look is more distinctive from all those others. I don’t mind that my pictures aren’t beautiful DSLR masterpieces (but I wouldn’t mind if they were!). I guess in not being so perfect, people can see that I’m just another person figuring her way through things. At least that’s what I hope! Maybe it just makes me seem less serious or more of an amateur. That may very well be true…

Whatever the case, I tried searching for Asian bloggers and came up with a few non-English ones or semi-famous Asian ones. What about Asian-Americans like myself, just the average Jane/Joe sharing random thoughts and experiences? If you know of any, please do share. I’m still trying to find bloggers who fit my own life experiences more and I’m coming up pretty empty. Not that I don’t enjoy reading the blogs of all the other ladies I’ve seen, but I want to find some that I am more similar to and can connect with more.

Disney World haul

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Remember when Panda and I stayed at the Hilton Anaheim to earn Disney gift cards? Maybe not, since I only mentioned it in passing. Well, we actually stayed for two visits of 4+ nights, which earned us a $100 gift card each time. With $200 to spend on Disney gear (or tickets, if we had wanted to visit the theme park), we had quite a bit of shopping to do on our trip to Orlando. Totally coincidental that we had a trip to the Disney World region right after earning those gift cards, but it worked out perfectly. 🙂

disney products laid out including beach towels, tshirts, trucker hat, tank tops, scarves, coffee scoop, foot scrub, and golf balls

What $200 can get you at Disney.

We spent hours wandering the stores at Downtown Disney and also making trips out to the outlets to see what those Disney stores had to offer. We ended up with two Walt Disney World beach towels, a ladies tshirt, a trucker hat, a set of 3 Mickey golf balls, two scarves, a men’s tshirt, a men’s Hawaiian shirt, an h2o+ foot scrub, two tank tops, and a coffee scoop. Not bad, eh? We got items from three different stores and managed to find something for everyone – ourselves as well as his parents, my parents, his brother, and my cousin. Pretty proud of our haul!

What would you have gotten with $200 to spend on anything Disney?

disney golf balls, coffee scoop, and h2o+ foot scrub

Closer look at the smaller items.

Cleaning regimen

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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How often do you clean?

I grew up not having chores; my parents were far more concerned about my academic and personal development. So, I got to enjoy a lot of time in my room doing my own thing. I didn’t make my bed (never saw the need) or dust or whatever other chores you might need to do to keep your room spotless. I did help out with general household chores ranging from mowing the lawn to washing dishes, but my room kind of remained my sanctuary. I rarely had to do chores within the room itself.

I now have the habit of cleaning only when I see a need – such as water marks speckling the mirror or visible dust on my shelves. I wash the dishes when they’ve filled up the sink and I do laundry when I’m running out of clothes. I don’t do preventative care or have any sort of set schedule or pattern. Meanwhile, Panda is almost the complete opposite. He regularly cleans when things are still “clean” (by my standards at least) and immediately washes dishes after eating. He does laundry at least once a week regardless of how much has accumulated and vacuums frequently too.

cleaning with hands in blue metal bucket/pail filled with soapy water

Last time I cleaned it was so notable I took a video. 😛


It’s really interesting how different our habits are. I enjoy a slightly messy room because it feels lived in. When things are too neat, it feels unnatural. I’d rather focus my time and efforts on living in my space; he’s willing focus his time and efforts on keeping the space neat and clean. When I do get around to cleaning, it’s usually a bit of an overhaul – a spring cleaning, if you will. I like to save up for one big effort every few weeks/months so I can spend a few hours (or the whole day) working up a sweat and really changing the way things look.

Is either way better? I don’t think so; to me, it’s a matter of preference. If cleaning all the time keeps your home in a state that makes you happy and peaceful, that’s probably what you should do. But if cleaning all the time brings on the stress of constantly thinking about it and worrying about all the chores left to do, then what’s the harm in cleaning less frequently? People have developed such an aversion to germs and things that are “dirty” but if society gets too hygienic, there are plenty of health issues to contend with. So why waste all that effort trying to avoid dust and germs only to get sick anyway? I think we could be a bit less uptight about the whole cleaning thing.

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