What Kids Text About Now

So last night my phone was BLOWING UP.  I thought perhaps people were texting me a belated Happy 30.5 Birthday but that wasn’t the case.  A week and a half ago, Terry’s 10 year old niece, Hailey, sends this mass text to a group of people.  It basically says how if you died, the sender would enact some revenge, go to jail, we ride or die, send this to everyone in the universe, if you get it back you are loved, at 12:00 (noon or midnight not specified) the person you love will suddenly love you, if you don’t send it you will turn ugly in one year, if you get three back you will turn pretty.  Damn, the fate of my good looks rests in this text.
Note that the original text was sent a WEEK AND A HALF AGO but only was my phone going nuts last night.  And this is why:
Hailey: hi
Friend #1: do you really mean that we will die together
Friend #1: that is so sweet i love you as a sfam (sisters from another mother)  (Loses its meaning once you have to explain it)
Hailey: hahaha me to (Is it that hard to type out the extra “o”?)
Friend #1: that is the nicest thing any body has ever said to me (This depresses me)
Hailey: i said that to 10 other people (Straight up truth)
Friend #1: ok well i just read it so i haven’t sent it to any body yet plus your the coolest sfam in the world
Hailey: you too
Friend #1: so are you ready for eliches (amusement park) on fri
Hailey: yea
Friend #1: and have a amazing sleepover
[Then the culprit texted a pic of herself with some shiny string braids in her hair and painted nails; she looks like she can’t be a day over 5.  When do kids get phones now?!]
Friend #1: oh and do you like my nails
Hailey: super cool
Friend #2: hi
Friend #3: who’s this?
Friend #2: hey i sent that to u emily
Friend #2: who r u
Friend #3: armani (nobody is ever named that, at least not in Colorado… maybe Trevor or Travis)
Friend #2: i’m evie i think we met at haily’s church
Hailey: don’t use this group text any more (SALVATION)
Friend #2: k
Friend #1: some times  (Oh friend #1 is back; who’s question is she answering?)
I just want to be honest and say that I will be THAT parent, that parent that snoops and embarrasses.  Future, unborn children — get ready for some fun!  Actually I’m saving this blog entry for Hailey as well.  I may reference it in every birthday card from here on out.
What Kids Text About Now

My Week in Photos

Terry drew a picture of me and it reminded me of how I do not like my side profile.  Apparently my face is just one continuous egg.


Dealt with this allergic reaction for a couple days but I’m on 10 days of antibiotics.  The bugs near our new place are TREACHEROUS.


Marlow doing work.


Marlow’s curves.


Chaat Sunday.


My friend’s amazing garden.  They grow EVERYTHING!


They even have chickens!


We decorated my coworker’s cube for her birthday and hid 25 different pictures of Oprah with customized sayings.


Here’s a sample.  That’s “Happy birthday” in Vietnamese.

rena bday 19

My Week in Photos

Summer of a Lifetime

summer of a lifetime
Look at unshaven, young Terry (bottom middle)!


Back in college, specifically the summer after sophomore year, our group of friends came up with a set of activities for those who decided not to go back home for the summer.  We called it “Summer of a Lifetime” and made it spectacular by matching our clothes every time we did an activity.  We saw live music at the Hollywood Bowl, we watched giraffes mate at the San Diego Zoo, we hiked 8 miles to a beautiful lake, we camped, we lived.  I was still working 40 hours a week at the UCI Housing Office so going out was still a luxury, as it is now, but I had a lot less responsibilities and no significant other.

What should you do this summer?  Here is a list of things I have done in the past or want to do this summer (sorry mostly limited to the Bay Area):

  • Real Escape Room – get together with a group of friends or strangers and escape from a room in a limited amount of time
  • Go on a day/weekend trip to Napa, Monterey, Pismo Beach, Mendocino (I need to do the last two!)
  • Alameda County Fair (or any county fair in your area!) on either July 4th (because fireworks are included) or check the performance schedule to see which oldie but goodie performer is there.  I was lucky enough to see Boyz II Men a couple years ago an that was still one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
  • Create a summer reading list (below are my recent favorites, most of which I’ve read for FREE from my local online library):
    • The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
    • Wonder – R.J. Palacio
    • The Fault in Our Stores – John Green
    • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
    • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash – Edward Humes
    • 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami (currently reading)
  • Go for a run around Lake Merritt (Oakland) or Lake Elizabeth (Fremont)
  • Picnic anywhere; there are so many choices!
  • Take Titan and Marlow to Fort Funston and other new dog parks
  • Plant a summer vegetable, herb, or fruit in a pot!  It is so satisfying to work with your hands and get something delicious out of it.  Plus, you can trade with friends since gardening seems to be the thing to do nowadays.

Let me know what your suggestions are!  We’re always looking for new experiences.


Summer of a Lifetime

Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Dinner


Inspired by Rachel Howden’s blog and in excitement for the finale, a couple friends and I decided to cook up some items for the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones.  It is not comparable to any of Rachel’s feasts by far but there were only five of us and we were bursting at the seams afterwards.  We didn’t really stick with a particular region’s cuisine… just what we thought some food was like back then.  Not pictured were the sour beers and wine.

Cheese, fruit, and olive platter (figs are pricey!):


Roast chicken with fixings:


Bacon wrapped trout:


Lord Manderly’s Pie:

This was so time consuming to make and I’m still amazed that with around 3-4 lbs. of filling, the pie is still free standing.  Parsnips weren’t in season so I substituted with rutabaga and potatoes.




Lemon bars/cakes:




I literally felt like I ate a Thanksgiving dinner.  I was hurting and sleepy but satisfied.  Even though I’ve read all the books thus far, I still get giddy like a chicken to see when they will kill off someone, what they choose to show in each episode, and all the great acting.  I might have to re-read some of the books before next season.  Try out some of the recipes from Inn at the Crossroads and show me how it turns out!

Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Dinner

Someone Stole My Inheritance

dream 061214

Last night, I dreamt that my mom was showing me my inheritance that was stored all in cash, in a shipping container.  When we got there, the doors were slightly open and I found my brother tied up in there, in a bag, but alive.  Then I got him out and locked up the container with some dinky key… like the ones you get when you buy a pencil or makeup box.  I drew a picture so you know what I”m talking about.


Someone Stole My Inheritance

My Week in Photos

I’ve been working on my tripod headstands for the past couple weeks and finally did the transition into pike long enough for a photo be taken and then my body gracefully collapsed onto the ground.  These pants also do not hide crotch sweat very well, NOT PICTURED obviously.


One Republic at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View.  I cannot even begin to talk about how amazing Ryan Tedder sounds live, even better than when I saw them 5 years ago.  I seriously got teary during some songs.


Sunday breakfast.


Last year, we planted flavorless jalapenos.  This year, we’re attempting roma tomatoes and look how much they’ve grown in the last week!


I had extra potting soil so we got Thai chilies (left) and Anaheim chilies (right).


Orange is the New Black Season 2.  If it were up to me, I’d finish this by now but Terry is making us pace ourselves so we only got in 3 episodes this past weekend.  Why did I get him into it?  PSH!  I love the poster variations.



My Week in Photos

Father’s Days Gifts for the Asian Dad

I don’t know about you but it’s extremely difficult to get my dad a gift for any occasion.  It’s not that he won’t willingly accept the gift but no matter how “useful” I think the gift is, it could potentially stay in the closet for forever.  Asian dads don’t like to be wasteful but keeping a gift in the closet without any use seems wasteful to me, don’t you think?

Here are some things we have gotten him that might work for your baba:

1. Uniqlo Jacket – Asians LOVE this store.  I think because it is fairly inexpensive, good quality, and the styles are simple.

uniqlo jacket

2. New messenger bag (or upgrade to any item your dad uses frequently) — The problem with buying my dad a replacement/upgraded item is that he loves to use the same thing no matter how janky it becomes.  My dad had been using his current messenger bag for over 20 years and it was falling apart at the seams and was barely zipping.  He continues to use that one and the new one is stored in the closet.  Looking back, I realize that the shape was important.  Contrary to the typical horizontally style messenger bag, he prefers the style below because it was easier to store his lunch box flat on the bottom.  So if you DO decide to upgrade one of your dad’s current items, make sure it is exactly what he wants and THAT much more better than the current item.  Actually, this Tumi Alpha Organizer Travel Tote may be a new contender.

messenger bag

3. Classic Sweaters (emphasis on CLASSIC) — Consists of 90% of his gifts.  These are foolproof and you really can’t go wrong with the sweaters you find at Macys.  We’ll switch it up though–zipper/no zipper, buttons/no buttons, different necklines…gotta keep things exciting.  No turtlenecks though.  I can’t go beyond the classic style because changing something my dad has been comfortable with would most certainly freak him out.


mens sweater


Dad: How do I button this? Is this hip hop?



Dad: Is this for your mom?



Dad: What happened to the rest of the pattern?  Why would I want to unbutton one sleeve only?

trendy mens sweater

4. Ipod Shuffle — This was the biggest splurge yet and a personal “success” for my brother and I.  My dad loved it because we pre-loaded all his Chinese music onto it and it was easy to use for someone who is 99% tech illiterate.  He goes walking everyday so this was a nice upgrade from his… cassette player.

ipod mini

5. Arometherapy neck pillows — If your dad is like mine, he is having aches and pains all over.  This pillow is from those mall kiosks; you are supposed to microwave it and it has a light aroma-therapeutic scent.  I’ve seen it used a couple times but I think he prefers the electric heat pad because it stays warmer, longer.


6. Handwritten card in Chinese — You can do translations on Babelfish and it will most likely come out sounding like a 5 year old wrote it but it will give him a good laugh.


7.  Duck tour (or anything toursity in your city) — Available in most major cities.  Asian dads, particularly mine, just loves experiences.  He spent so much of his time working the graveyard shift and only having weeknights off that he didn’t get to explore the place he has been living in for over 30 years.  There are so many touristy things to do in metropolitan areas that you should not run out of ideas for a long time.


8. Dim Sum (or any delicious meal together) – Going off of experiences, there’s quality time.  Although it sounds generic especially for you families who eat dim sum every month with your dad anyway, they love this because they love food.  They’ve spent all their lives providing materially for us that they end up not really wanting anything more practical than food.  Even if your family is dead silent at the meal, I bet your dad will still appreciate this.


Hope you found this helpful and happy early father’s day to all you babas out there!

Father’s Days Gifts for the Asian Dad

(Savory) Chicken Salad Recipe


Don’t you love it when you just cook up something that ends up tasting better than you had hoped for?  That hasn’t happened to me often but I just had to share my accidental recipe that came about as we were eating chicken for the third time this past week.

Last week, I decided to make a second attempt at the Halal Guys Chicken and Rice recipe.  It turned out good but it didn’t taste like the NY food cart to me.  We only used up half of the white sauce so I saved that in the fridge.

Two days later, I decided to make a whole roasted chicken.  I didn’t use a recipe.  I stuffed the cavity with 3-4 sprigs of rosemary, 5 garlic cloves, and some lemon juice and on the outside was a plethora of seasoning I had on hand: Lawry’s, garlic salt, cayenne, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  And I also gave the outside a rubdown of butter and more rosemary.  Baked that bird for 1.5 hours at 425 degrees Fahrenheit in a cast iron pan coated with olive oil.  I think it would’ve been better at 1.25 hours but it depends on the size of your bird.

Between Terry and I, we could only eat about 1/3 of the chicken so I decided to mix the leftover meat (with skin), the white sauce, and some extras (will include below) to create the most spectacular chicken salad ever!

The below recipe should be enough for an entire roasted chicken:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-8 mashed up anchovies (per your taste)
  • 1-2 diced up shallots
  • 1-2 tbsp of dijon mustard (I’ve been loving the one below from Sprouts lately)


I would add some diced celery for crunch but since we didn’t have any, I added chopped up iceberg lettuce right before putting my sandwich together.  It gave it a nice crunch without getting soggy from sitting with the chicken and sauce for too long.  This is a great alternative for those of you who do not like any sweet (grapes? cranberries?) in their chicken salad.  It’s probably too much work JUST to roast a chicken for this recipe but any chicken leftovers would be great for this.

While on the topic of savory non-green “salads,” I’d also recommend this Provencal Potato Salad which is so much more exciting than your normal, blah yellow potato salad.

(Savory) Chicken Salad Recipe

When will you have a housewarming?

We get this question a LOT.  A housewarming party is really not something we are planning to do because 1) our condo is rented so it’s not ours and 2) it’s really not made for a housewarming (we have no dining table, it’s small, and the neighborhood is QUIET).  Even though we cannot have a housewarming, you can see what we’ve been up to.

We moved to an area with a larger Burmese/Indian population so I have more access to ingredients I need to develop my Burmese cooking skills.  You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to find white poppy seeds.  This is my second attempt at a Burmese semolina cake (shwe kyi) and I must say that it turned out much better than my first attempt, even though I used whole wheat flour instead of semolina flour (too yellow).  The consistency is somewhere between a dense cake and sponge with a lightly toasted wheat/coconut milk flavor.


The dogs are adjusting well.  They need to be on more of a schedule with peeing and pooing because we don’t have a backyard/dog door so they can’t just do whatever they want, whenever they want.  I miss that!  Luckily the dogs had no problem holding their junk in while we’re away at work.  There was one accident though and we think it’s Marlow.


For the past 1.5 years, I have been going to yoga classes at this studio near our old place and I was sad to leave the familiar instructors/faces.  BUT I was happy to find a studio only 0.5 mile away from our new place and I really feel like I leveled up.  The crowd here on average is a bit more advanced; they’re so into head/handstands and since moving, I have been able to do it!  Unfortunately ALL the classes are heated to 85 degrees so I don’t feel like I ever have an easy yoga day… always sweating buckets it seems.




Even though we’re 95% unpacked and settled in, being in a new place makes me less motivated to do chores.  I don’t know what it is.


I get to see this burly face every morning and every evening.




Dad Update: I really didn’t expect much contact with my dad for at least a couple weeks, especially not how we left things and what triggered our move in the first place.  Since moving out, he has contacted us twice for help with something despite all that talk about not needing us anymore.  Even his tone on the phone and in person has changed, like he’s actually more excited to talk to us.  When we stopped by the house, it was noticeably more clean and organized.  Guess it’s better for both parties that we did end up moving!

When will you have a housewarming?

We Moved!

A decision that we have been contemplating for the past year was finalized in only a couple weeks.  Obviously triggered from Terry’s conversation with my dad, I felt so relieved to start looking only to find that moving didn’t solve all my problems.  It turned out to be a new set of problems and I don’t mean to be a negative Nancy; it’s more of a reality check for me.  We decided to rent because 1) we don’t have parents who will give us a down payment (which is totally fine with me but it’s hard when many of your friends are fortunate enough to have that), 2) we’re not ready to be house poor (renovations? repairs?), and 3) we don’t know where we will settle down and don’t want to be tied to a house quite yet.

Searching for a 1-2 bedroom, privately owned property in the Bay Area market is a TOUGH process.  You could be potentially competing with 20+ applicants at one time and 17 of them make probably 1.5x or more than you do.  That’s a lot of application fees down the drain.  We ultimately decided to opt for a 1 bedroom place to save some money and figure if something like a baby comes along, we can put him/her in the dining room especially with my attempts at minimalism.

Now let’s talk about the 99 problems…

  • Our landlord is inexperienced, incredibly inexperienced in managing properties.  It’s apparent that her dad bought her the place because she doesn’t give a rat’s ace about it.  Initially she didn’t think the place even needed a cleaning after the old tenants moved out until the leasing agent told her so.  And even after she got it cleaned and we moved in, the carpet was so dirty that it turned out feet black after walking on it for 5 minutes.  Every time we email her about something, she’ll redirect the problem to someone else or avoid having to deal with it.
  • We decided to take both dogs with us because to my surprise, my dad did not want Titan.  He said he didn’t have the energy to take care of him even though I would continue providing food and driving him to the groomers/vet.  I figured my dad would be loneliness but maybe even he is not aware of how lonely he is.  Living with two dogs in a small place is chaotic and I wonder if our neighbors below can hear the constant scurrying and battling between them.
  • Just transitioning to a new place.  For someone who really loves new experiences, this was a particular hard transition for me.  I felt and still feel like I am in someone else’s home and that I can’t really settle down.  Part of that is knowing we will probably be moving again in a year and I haven’t shifted my mentality to something more permanent yet.

The best thing is having someone to go through all this with.  Terry is so supportive and stable.  I’m like a dog with rabies and he is the loyal puppy friend.

Here we are eating our second home-cooked meal in the apartment: salmon fish head soup (one of my favorites!).  By the way, that’s Titan at the bottom of the picture, not a rug.


And Marlow always trying to get Terry’s attention.



Apartment tour to come!

We Moved!