#100HappyDays - Week Eleven

Week Eleven of my #100HappyDays challenge was full of happy discoveries in the everyday stuff. (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8 , Week 9 and Week 10).

 <<June 10, Tues – Thai tea with chewy boba, brought home by my thoughtful roomie>>Week 11-1

<<June 11, Wed – This mysterious wooden door, flanked by stone and ivy, discovered on a walk around my old LA neighborhood>>Week 11-3

<<June 12, Thurs – Challenging myself to create a dish with just pantry and freezer staples>>Week 11-7

<<June 13, Fri – Introducing Wally to his new buddy Yoda>>Week 11-2

<<June 14,  Sat – Vintage kitchen tools at an antique shop - a reminder of how much cooking has changed and stayed exactly the same>>Week 11-5

<<June 15, Sun – Father's Day brunch and just being with my family>>Week 11-6

<<June 16, Mon – A leisurely twilight stroll along the Venice canals with my man>>Week 12-1

#100HappyDays - Week Ten

Can't believe it's already Week Ten of my #100HappyDays challenge! Writing this post every week really lets me appreciate these moments all over again. (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8 and Week 9).

<<June 3, Tues – Getting in touch with my inner kid at the  LA Natural History Museum>>Week 10-1

<<June 4, Wed – Admiring my old-school neighborhood on an evening walk>>Week 10-2

<<June 5, Thurs – Wandering around Santa Monica with an old college friend (even the parking lot was gorgeous!)>>Week 10-3

<<June 6, Fri – Spending an evening volunteering for an amazing organization>>Week 10-4

<<June 7, Sat – Browsing the irresistibly colorful sale section at Anthropologie>>Week 10-5

<<June 8, Sun – Discovering this sad, slumpy bear while cruising the local shopping mall>>Week 10-6

<<June 9, Mon – Catching up with old friends over classy Tex-Mex at Bar Ama>>Week 10-7

#100HappyDays - Week Nine

Week Nine of my #100HappyDays challenge and going strong!  This week was full of new discoveries and old comforts. (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 and Week 8).

<<May 27, Tues – Discovering delectable Mexican pastries at a bakery down the street>>Week 9-1

<<May 28, Wed – A 3-mile run through my neighborhood in the golden afternoon light>>Week 9-2

<<May 29, Thurs – Perfect little billy button arrangement in a vintage tin at Salt's Cure>>Week 9-3

<<May 30, Fri – A light and simple dinner of DIY nori rice wraps with my parents>>Week 9-4

<<May 31, Sat – A trip to the breathtakingly beautiful Getty Villa in Malibu>>Week 9-5

<<June 1, Sun – Tart mango pineapple Italian ice with creamy vanilla custard at Rita's>>Week 9-6

<<June 2, Mon – A plastic cup full of wine and the sunset at my sister's downtown LA loft>>Week 9-7

#100HappyDays - Week Eight

Here's Week Eight of my #100HappyDays challenge! This week, I indulged in some of my favorite comforts and saw inspiring design while out and about.  (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6 and Week 7).

<<May 20, Tues – My ultimate comfort food: Korean spicy, crunchy, sizzling stone pot rice>>Week 8 1

<<May 21, Wed – Playing Secret of Mana on an SNES emulator and watching Center Stage>>Week 8 2

<<May 22, Thurs – A 2 hour lunch with an old friend capped with the cutest coconut cake>>Week 8 3

<<May 23, Fri – Treating myself to a soothing, meltingly relaxing Thai massage>>Week 8 4

<<May 24, Sat – A bold and playful upholstered built-in bench nook with delicate mobiles>>Week 8 5

<<May 25, Sun – Large scale text installation at the beautiful (and free!) Hammer Museum>>Week 8 6

<<May 26, Mon – A refreshing take on the mounted animal head trend: a 3D printed deer on black canvases with gold washi tape at a super stylish friend's home>>Week 8 7

#100HappyDays - Week Seven

Week Seven of my #100HappyDays challenge was full of sweets, of the literal and emotional kind =)  (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5 and Week 6).

<<May 14, Tuesday – Gorgeous display of gourmet candies at Sugarfina Beverly Hills>>iPhone 4001 (2)

<<May 15, Wednesday – This is what makes dog ownership worth every bit of the hassle>>iPhone 4001

<<May 16, Thursday – A delicate and delicious strawberry cream puff at Republique>>iPhone 4002

<<May 17, Friday – A night of fun and games at Two-Bit Circus, housed in an old brewery>>iPhone 4003

<<May 18, Saturday – A walk on the beach with my man>>iPhone 4004

<<May 18, Sunday – Butter pecan ice cream in a warm red velvet waffle cone at Sprinkles>>iPhone 4005

<<May 19, Monday – Taking in all the colors and textures at a local fabric store >>iPhone 4018

#100HappyDays - Week Six

Almost halfway through the #100HappyDays challenge! This week I watched two very different, but both brilliantly skilled, musicians and got inspired to to get creative.  (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4 and Week 5).

<<May 6, Tuesday – Rodrigo y Gabriela and their breathtaking, rhythmic guitar music>>iPhone 042

<<May 7, Wednesday – Piles of familiar, yet exotic, produce at the Korean grocery store>>iPhone 045

<<May 8, Thursday – Exquisite piano playing by Lang Lang at the Disney Concert Hall>>iPhone 089

<<May 9, Friday – Meeting old friends from high school over good ale and pub grub>>iPhone 106

<<May 10, Saturday – Channeling my inner child through paint and canvas>>iPhone 108

<<May 11, Sunday – Finding a perfect fallen flower on a long, mid-day hike>>iPhone 115

<<May 12, Monday – My very first try at painting an accent wall>>iPhone 125

#100HappyDays - Week Five

Time for week five of #100HappyDays – a challenge to find one thing that makes me happy each day for 100 days. This week was full of celebrations with loved ones and peaceful solitary moments. (If you’re curious, here are Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4).

<<April 29, Tuesday – A sunset walk to Venice Beach on a balmy evening>>iPhone 001

<<April 30, Wednesday – Lingering over a solo lunch at the beautiful and quiet-on-a-Wednesday Republique restaurant>>iPhone 057

<<May 1, Thursday – Visiting a lighting showroom with my awesome architect sister>>iPhone 002

<<May 2, Friday - Celebrating my best friend's birthday with a tipsy night out>>iPhone 003

<<May 3, Saturday – An afternoon of nerdy board games, wine and cheese>>iPhone 029

<<May 4, Sunday – Celebrating my dad's birthday with amazing food and family>>iPhone 031

<<May 5, Monday – Jacaranda blooms littering our street>>iPhone 010

#100HappyDays - Week Four

Week four of #100HappyDays - a challenge to find one thing that makes me happy each day for 100 days. Still going strong! (If you're curious, here are Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3).

<<April 22, Tuesday - Enjoying my very first delightfully sweet and tart loquat>>iPhone 084

 <<April 23, Wednesday - Finding cute crafting supplies at the hardware store>>iPhone 092

<<April 24, Thursday - A trip to Ikea: blissfully empty and an unbelievably cheap lunch>>iPhone 085

<<April 25, Friday - Wood-fired pizza and a wicked jazz show>>iPhone 086

<<April 26, Saturday - Luminous clouds after the rain>>iPhone 087

<<April 27, Sunday - Playing like a kid again at Two-Bit Circus>>iPhone 088

<<April 28, Monday - Red Velvet cake for breakfast>>iPhone 090

 

 

#100HappyDays - Week Three

Week three, or about 20% of the way through the 100 Happy Days Challenge! There was so much to choose from this week. Just putting this post together and remembering each day puts a smile on my face. (Check out Week 1 and Week 2!)

<<April 15, Tuesday- First place win for our team at Springbok Bar Trivia!>>photo (13)

<<April 16, Wednesday - Finding this crazy junkyard while wandering the streets of LA>>iPhone 086

<<April 17, Thursday - Leftovers make a perfect Vietnamese rice bowl for lunch>>iPhone 087

<<April 18, Friday - So many flavors of Mast Brothers chocolate to choose from>>iPhone 001

<<April 19, Saturday - A hike with friends, followed by ice cream>>iPhone 088

<<April 20, Sunday - A lazy morning reading in bed>>iPhone 093

<<April 21, Monday - A visit to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits>>iPhone 094

#100HappyDays - Week Two

Time for week two of my 100 Happy Days challenge (read about the challenge and week one here). I have to admit, there were a couple days when I felt sluggish and uninspired, but writing down my happy thing was a positive way to end even those harder days. Which I guess is the point, so... onward! =)

<<April 8, Tuesday - Dance Dance Revolution! So much fun and such a workout!>>photo (12)

 <<April 9, Wednesday - Daffodils tell me spring is really here>>iPhone 169

<< April 10, Thursday - Tennis outside on a beautiful day>>iPhone 177

<< April 11, Friday - Discovering this amazing, real-life house in Beverly Hills>>iPhone 001

<<April 12, Saturday - The cutest jar of strawberry jam for a crusty French baguette>>iPhone 003

<< April 13, Sunday - A blue sky and a neighbor's beautiful roses>> iPhone 234

<< April 14, Monday - A veritable Vietnamese feast prepared by my roommate's mom>>iPhone 004

Mini Meditation: Just Lunch

I know meditating is good for me. I know it in my gut. And there are countless studies that show it does your brain good on a chemical, science-y level (one great article here). Unfortunately, all those studies also show that you have to practice meditation for it to do you all this good and I just never end up finding time in my day to do it. And that sounds ridiculous to me even as I type it. I can't find TEN MINUTES? Everything I do is so enormously important that I can't spare even a moment? No, let's just call that what it is - a flimsy excuse. The reality is that it takes 21 to 30 days for something to become a habit and we humans love instant gratification, not something that builds little by little.

So here's something I've been trying for the past few days. When I eat lunch, I eat lunch AND NOTHING ELSE. No TV, no internet browsing, no magazine reading. I just stare at my food and eat and think. And I really notice my food and how good it tastes. Ideas and connections pop into my head. I feel full faster. A lot of the time the same inane thoughts go spinning around and I sometimes feel flashes of impatience. But it's also the only moment of the day that I'm not multitasking - multiple browser windows, knitting while watching TV, cooking to music, eating dinner and chatting with my roommate. It's just me. And I'm starting to look forward to it. Here's hoping it sticks.

Just my lunch (and me standing over it with a camera...)

#100HappyDays - Week One

Have you heard of the 100 Happy Days challenge? It doesn't ask you to be happy all day every day for 100 days - that would be a real set up for failure. What it does ask you to do is make note, each day, of one thing that makes you happy. It sounds stupid and obvious until you read all the studies showing that it's not just good things that make you happy, it's noticing those positive things as much as you can. Gratitude for your life, whatever that life may be, makes you feel happier. So I'm trying it and sharing my results here, one week at a time.

<<April 1, Tuesday - Spotting these gorgeous deep red leaves during an afternoon stroll.>>photo (12)

<<April 2, Wednesday - Good bread and a soft boiled egg make leftovers shiny and new.>>0 004

<<April 3, Thursday - Wally gets a toy stuck around his neck. Hilarity ensues.>>photo (11)a

<<April 4, Friday - Watching The Muppets movie for the first time - charming and funny.>>

the-muppets-movie-post1

<<April 5, Saturday - Discovering that easter egg hunts are still fun at 32.>>100DaysofHappy 003

<<April 6, Sunday - A hearty, delicious brunch alfresco.>>photo (10)

<<April 7, Monday - Catching up with a friend I haven't seen in over a year. And finding this very relevant-to-my-life-at-the-moment book.>>photo (13)

What happy things will next week bring?

 

Cooking Without a Recipe (or Attack of the Honey Bees)

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to have access to good ingredients and time and loved ones to feed and, most importantly, Food Network. So I've gotten pretty good at sensing food, knowing how much salt and pepper are needed, what flavors go well together, how long to let things simmer - basically I can cook without a recipe. It's not always a success but, honestly, I don't remember the failures. They settle deep in the mind as lessons that eventually manifest as cooking intuition. Unless they're spectacular failures, in which case they become funny stories to tell at a party. Like the time I spawned a fearsome creature of the deep while trying to make caramels. iPhone 043

And then turned from my monstrosity to realize six bees had gotten in, drawn by the smell of cooking sugar. I am irrationally afraid of bees so six angry, confused ones zooming around my tiny apartment induced a minor panic attack. I immediately went to go hide in my bed then realized after ten minutes that no one was going to come save me. I lived alone and I had things to do and I couldn't hide forever. By then, the bees had congregated near a window and I was able to kill them pretty easily, one by one, with a rolled up magazine.

iPhone 047It was sad - honeybees clearly aren't houseflies, they don't expect to be smashed from behind and I could see them wiggling and touching each other, probably trying to figure out how to get themselves out of this dodgy situation. But I didn't know what else to do and I didn't want to get stung. I still feel slightly guilty about it...

All this to say, you should try it some time! Try cooking something you've made a few times before, glance at the recipe to remind yourself of the ingredients, then put the recipe away and see if you can cook without it. Add seasonings slowly, tasting as you go. The more you practice, the better you get. And eventually you get in a zone, where you're really in tune with your food and your gut and your senses instead of glancing at instructions every two minutes. You may come to enjoy cooking more, who knows?

This ABSOLUTELY does not work with baking, by the way, that's all about science and chemical reactions. I always meticulously measure and follow the rules with baking, which is probably why I don't enjoy it as much as I do cooking. Too bad I enjoy the results of baking so much...

 

Knitting in the Sun

Knitting Life 025 I brought my knitting to my parents' house today, 30 minutes away from central Los Angeles, in the deep San Fernando Valley where there are lush, green backyards as far as the eye can see. Instead of the incessant chatter of TV, there were birds.. flitting about and chirping about whatever birdly business they were up to. There were actually butterflies, multiple butterflies, fluttering around and a lone dragonfly hovering shimmering still in the air. The sun beat upon me gently and insistently and thousands of leaves sighed and chattered as they brushed up against each other. Occasionally, the wind chimes would play their high, sweet notes as they danced. Above this all was the click and sweep of my knitting needles and my work grew steadily and it felt like I had been in this sunny snow globe for ages and then I looked at my watch - 6 minutes.

Knitting Life 017

Do What You Love?

Blog Pics 021 These four little words puzzle me. I realize that "Do What You Love" is not a choice that everyone has. Does my pursuit of a selfishly idealized life come at the expense of others somehow? Am I just being a spoiled American brat? My parents moved to a country where they knew no one and gave up their dreams to make sure I got an education and would never know poverty. And I quit my secure well-paying corporate law firm gig to "find myself"?

I'm still struggling with those questions. But I do know that, uncomfortable though it may be, I want to take a hard look at my life and myself. Because a happy me doing what I love has got to be better for the universe than a sad, depressed me. Or, more likely, the universe doesn't give a damn and in that case, my puny struggles are moot =)

So for now, I'll settle for this:

Blog Pics 017

BTW: You can buy this little 5x7 original watercolor with hand-drawn calligraphy at my Etsy shop for just $10!

ETSY Watercolors 001