Salads: An Update

It feels a little weird to just toss out a salad post (see what I did there) when I have a backlog of recaps I still owe. There’s my friend’s wedding I attended at the beginning of the month (waiting on photos from the official photographer, so waiting for the couple to return from their honeymoon) and my annual trip to New York (which I just want to wait because, chronologically, it happened after the wedding).

So I want to talk a little bit about salads real quick.

Yep, I, too, can sometimes be a woman laughing alone with salad.

Back on my old blog (RIP Xanga), I wrote an entire post about how I construct salads and what my favorite restaurant salads were. I don’t think that ever made it here, but in light of how many salads I’ve been eating during DC’s recent heat bubble, I figured it was a good time to revisit salads.

While some people may think of summer as cookout time, a time to eat copious fried foods and barbecued meats, I always think about the fresh, raw foods I crave in the summer. It gets to the point where I am almost offended when someone invites me to eat salad or sushi in the winter. (Are you saying my winter coat of blubber doesn’t look good???) On days when you get covered in a layer of sweat or the moisture in the air or both within seconds of walking outside, a beautiful, crisp salad really hits the spot. The things I look for when I am glancing over salad menus are textures, flavors, and colors. I also take into consideration heaviness/freshness, which is hard to describe but I think you probably understand it? Citrus adds freshness. Avocado and bacon add heaviness.

Here’s my process, in order, of when I construct my own salads…Read More »

Summer 2015 Favorites

I’m trying to ease my way back into my regular schedule… or at least posting at all… it’s obviously not going great. (As per usual, my roadblock in getting Florida posts up is the photo editing/uploading. LE SIGH.)

Before I even realized what was happening, July ended, and then August skipped by? Whoa. It’s been yet another crazy summer for me, so I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me through the chaos.

Sense8

I first heard about this new Netflix Original Series at the beginning of June and was instantly interested. The trailer was super cool and I was immediately drawn in by the premise of these 8 people in 8 different cities who are emotionally and mentally connected.

This is maybe my new favorite show to push other people to watch. It is really unlike most other shows that I’ve seen. First of all, the characters are incredibly interesting. They’re so different from each other and have amazing depth to each and every one. You really feel very committed and invested in all 8 of them and their individual stories. But what is even more interesting is how the show links the characters together. Two characters on opposite sides of the world may be facing completely different circumstances, but they share a core dilemma and that brings them together. The show also deals with a lot of issues that more mainstream shows shy away from. The emotional stakes are really high, and even though the overarching story of the season doesn’t really kick off until episode 9 (it’s ridiculous, I know), I promise you it’s worth that slow burn.

PLUS the show is gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful. You have this wanderlust from visiting Berlin and Mumbai and Nairobi and Iceland and Chicago and Mexico City and more. And it’s a really cool blend of different cinematic styles. You want a Bollywood dance sequence? Done. Excessive action sequence? Okay. Buddy cop? There’s a bit of that. Comedy? EDM? Done, done. Whatever you want, this show HAS IT. God, it’s such a good show. I’m tempted every day to rewatch the season.

New Phone Apps

When I downloaded these apps at the beginning of the summer, I had planned on doing a post about them but that’s one of many drafts that I started this summer and never got out. I think it was actually meant to be one of the monthly favorites, oops. (Let me know if this is one of the posts you still want me to publish?) Essentially, I decided to shake up some of most-used apps by switching to better-looking ones that had better features.

  • Sunrise Calendar: This is a really great-looking calendar app that has great external app integration (in fact, Sunrise is what led me to get Wunderlist) and a superb Android widget
  • Wunderlist: Even though I’ve been using the same to-do website/app for over 10 years, it was time to move on to one that better suited my needs. Wunderlist has a great user interface and features that I regularly use like repeating tasks, separate reminders and due dates, and more.
  • 1Weather: In the midst of switching apps, I decided I needed a better-looking weather app also and was led to 1Weather by the folks at Lifehacker. 1Weather is simple but looks so good and tells me everything I need and more without inundating my screen with meteorological data. Icons for Sunrise Calendar, Wunderlist, and 1Weather

Ant-Man Promo

Honestly, even if you have no interest in watching Ant-Man (which I would recommend you do watch, it was a fun movie), you should just watch this trailer. It’s 15 seconds of your life that you won’t want back, featuring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Enjoy.

Vanilla Milk Alternatives

This seems very specific, but basically I really liked vanilla-flavored soy and almond milks, and I feel like I would probably like other vanilla-flavored products as well? (I know I’ve seen cashew and coconut milk in the same section.) I don’t like milk very much at all, but I tried some vanilla soy creamer at the beginning of the summer and really loved it with:

  1. Twinings Earl Grey decaf tea, for a London Fog-style treat in the evening
  2. Javazen Original, cold-brewed, for a delicious iced coffee

Buying a big ol’ carton just to flavor tea or iced coffee seemed a bit silly, but so did repeatedly buying the tiny cartons of creamer. So, I now have a big ol’ carton and am able to drink it straight up or use it for…

Chia Pudding

Basically, I’ve been really curious about this “super food” trend for a while now because it seemed like the gelatinous form that chia seeds take on in puddings would be yummy. I bought a bag when it was on sale and it was the perfect time to use my new milk alternatives. This is a super winner in my book as a breakfast, dessert, snack, whatever. It feels healthy, it tastes great, it keeps me filled… what’s not to love? I am still working on the right ratio of seeds to milk, but I’ve been really enjoying chia pudding the past few weeks with my vanilla milk alternatives and chocolate soy milk, which I am really happy to be able to find as a lot of stores have stopped stocking the one I always get.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5685/21071584009_ffcc2df2c1_k.jpg

The IT Crowd

This is another show that is available on Netflix. I first heard about it on Tumblr from folks who were complaining that The Big Bang Theory was actually mocking the nerds rather than celebrating them through comedy, which I really can’t disagree with. Plus, Tumblr is a huge fan of Richard Ayoade, one of the stars of the show. His character, Moss, can be likened to Sheldon on BBT, except he’s a lot more clever and a lot funnier, to me. (I love Richard Ayoade.)

Even though I started the show a long while back, it wasn’t until this summer that I finished it, laughing aloud through most of the episodes. I highly recommend this as a lighthearted comedy about the workplace and how dumb the workplace can be. You get a fun dose of British humor while you’re at it, as well. (Also, about the struggles that IT people face when people don’t have their computers plugged in.)

Game of Thrones

OKAY INTERNET, YOU WIN. I finally watched Game of Thrones. After having most of the show spoiled rotten for me, I’ve decided to get some context on events like the Red Wedding and now I have it. I think I’m more interested in reading the books now, if anything, because I’m really drawn in by the world that George R. R. Martin has created, but I also really have to commend the cast for their portrayals of these characters and the crew for literally building this world. I love fantasy as a genre and obviously GoT is a great fantasy series. I am glad that this show is no longer a blind spot when it comes to nerdy and/or television trivia. Really excited for season 6, as the show has now caught up with (and in some cases, eclipsed) the book series. No one knows what’s coming next and a lot of storylines are building up to some exciting climaxes!


And that’s just a few of the things that have been keeping me sane and generally in good spirits this summer. Sometimes the summer seems so short, but then I realize I finished Game of Thrones 2 weeks ago and finished Sense8 2 months ago and it seems like such a long time…

I’m looking forward to a lot of fall favorites to come!

What kept you happy this summer?
Have you watched any of the shows I mentioned? Or should I watch something different?

{See also: Summer 2015 Recap}

Favorite Cute Animal Videos

I would never claim to be an expert in anything. I wouldn’t even call myself particularly passionate about any single thing.

Instead, I refer to myself as an enthusiast of many things. I get very enthused about many things.
One of these things is cute animal videos.

Let’s just cut to the chase, okay? I’m not here to waste your time. I’m here to show you my surefire, go-to cute animal videos and what I call them.

Official title: 2 Rabbits 2 Cups コップにはいった子うさぎ 漫才編
Also known as: “Bunnies in Cups!!!”
Video length: 1 minute
Featured animal(s): 2 adorable little bunnies that do the thing that bunnies do with their noses for a full minute – instant classic

Original: https://vine.co/v/ME16mjEaPEY
Official title: Prancing through the grass 🐷😭😻 #piggy #piglet #cute#baby
Also known as: “Tiny pig in grass that’s bigger than it!”
Video length: 6 seconds
Featured animal(s): A teeny pig that is smaller than the blades of grass it runs through and that makes a tiny, precious oinking sound

Official title: baby monkey nala gets a bath
Also known as: “Teeny monkey gets a bath!!!”
Video length: 2 minutes 19 seconds
Featured animal(s): Baby monkey hugging a little plush toy as it gets washed in a sink under a faucet while also making adorable squeaking noises

Official title: Ducks blown off their feet by wind
Also known as: “OMG duckies getting blown across a roof!!!”
Video length: 45 seconds
Featured animal(s): Mama Duck and her ducklings tumbling across a roof after a few strong gusts get them

Official title: Ducklings vs. Stairs
Also known as: “Duckies trying sooooo hard to climb the stairs!!!”
Video length: 2 minutes 31 seconds
Featured animal(s): Mama Duck waiting for her dozen cheep-cheep-ing ducklings to hop up the stairs to her

Official title: Surprised Kitty (Original)
Also known as: “AW the kitty is surprised!”
Video length: 16 seconds
Featured animal(s): Small kitten that is playing with owner and makes an adorable gesture+face in doing so – another classic

Official title: Cat mom hugs baby kitten
Also known as: Mommy squeeeeezes baby kitteh squee~
Video length: 1 minute
Featured animal: Baby kitten sleeping next to mama cat, making little sounds and movements, being pulled into a hug


I know I don’t have any puppy videos… this time. This is probably not the last you’ve heard from me regarding cute videos of animals, but I figured that our hearts could only take so much cute in one dose, ya know?

What are you favorite cute animal videos? Please share, I can’t get enough.

March Favorites

With spring kicking off in March, I have a rather long post for you all this month. Lots of good things going on is a good sign, right?

7 Minute Workout [App]

I’ve been trying to find ways to make it easier for me to commit to fitness. Right now, I’m really enjoying the 7 Minutes app (I use this one on Google Play, but there are many that have slightly different UIs and several available on iTunes as well). I picked this one over some other popular ones (like Nike’s N+TC) because I don’t need any equipment for the exercises as 7 Minute uses only body weight exercises.

Cover art

If you’re unfamiliar with tabata or circuit/interval training, the default 7 Minutes workout involves 13 different workouts that you do for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in-between. The science backing this workout says that intense bursts of activity followed by shorter intervals of rest are super effective in working your muscles, and you’re able to maximize the benefits of exercise in only 7 minutes.

As someone who often has a hard time committing to fitness regimens that aren’t a paid-for group class, finding 7 minutes to do something, no matter how painful those 7 minutes may be, seems much more doable than doing half an hour of exercise three times a week. I am trying to do as many days in a row as I can without taking breaks while completing one circuit, since the app tracks how many days in a row you’ve done the exercises, how far into the exercises you got, how many times (if any) you paused, and how many days of exercise you’ve done in the past 30 days. If you’re a fan of the “Don’t Break the Chain” method of forming habits popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, you’ll love that feature.

7 Minute Workout - screenshot

(Images from Google Play store)

Misfit [app]

Along the same vein, my boyfriend and I recently decided to give fitness trackers a try. Not wanting to commit a lot, we found one of the most affordable options out there: the Misfit Flash, which is a lower-end tracker made by the folks who also make the Misfit Shine. The tracker itself is whatever to me: it’s made of cheaper materials but gets the job done and has an option for you to clip it or wear it on your wrist.

The app is what I like. The UI is really nice, although I wish the Android one was as nice/robust as the iOS one. I can connect it to RunKeeper, for the handful of times I decide to run, and MyFitnessPal, because I understand that being aware of what I eat is really important to my overall fitness.

Misfit - screenshot

You earn “points” for your physical activity (so mostly for walking, as it counts your steps) and I like the social element if only so I can compete with my boyfriend. One thing I also like is that it shows how you rank with the average males/females using the app. “Missfit” is on my leaderboard and I think that’s a neat feature.

Also, we really wanted to look into sleep tracking. I used a sleep tracking app, but I don’t like keeping my phone on my bed, so this is a nice alternative. It has issues as far as not being able to track naps, not tracking if you wake up and go back to sleep, if you have irregular sleep hours, etc., but it’s a nice way to get more data about my sleep habits. And I’m all about dat data.

Misfit - screenshot

(Images from Google Play store)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 

I usually don’t watch super trendy shows (see: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.), usually because I don’t know about them when they premiere and then because I feel like I am being peer-pressured to start watching it. (Looking at you, Doctor Who and the Tumblr propaganda that eventually got me to watch.) This definitely applies to Netflix shows, because I don’t really like the idea of sitting down and binge-watching a season of a show the day it is released to the public. (See: why I don’t watch House of Cards despite the fact that, as a show about DC, I have friends who can be seen as extras.)

When Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was announced a short while back, I fully intended to not watch it. I like Tina Fey (the producer) and all, but I didn’t watch 30 Rock, I’m not a die-hard Tina Fey fan, I don’t feel anything about Ellie Kemper or Jane Krakowski, the premise was quirky but not enough where I felt really compelled to watch it… I just didn’t really have any motive to watch. But then I heard that Ki-Hong Lee was on the show… as a love interest, no less! I love Ki-Hong (his smile takes over his whole face… and yours) and I am all for Asian male love interests.

So, I sat down to watch the show and really liked it! It’s 30-minute episodes, which made the 12-episode season much more digestible than shows where the run-time lasts closer to an hour. It’s a light-hearted comedy, which meant that I was able to breeze through episodes not only without being stressed and tense for the next one but while laughing as well. It’s definitely a bit too edgy/quirky for television and perfect for the Internet. It’s super self-aware and smartly written. I recommend it if you’ve been wondering about this show.

23 Perfect Jokes From "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Spring Cleaning

Even though it snowed half a foot the first week of March (… you think I’m joking), the weekend immediately following that storm gave us our first taste of spring weather. I had my windows open! The snow thawed almost immediately and left immense puddles everywhere! I went outside in jeans without a pair of leggings underneath them!

Cleaning my room has been on my to-do list for a while. When I started getting overwhelmed with my many tasks, I would feel worse about the fact that my room was messy and I hadn’t cleaned it yet. This would drive me into a guilt spiral that was further aggravated by the fact that I can’t actually stand messes. Evidently, my method of coping with a mess is usually to be driven so mad by it that I am reduced to doing… nothing, about the mess or anything else in my life.

But, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, a breath of fresh air gave me the kick I needed to actually clean. I told myself I would only clean my room and save cleaning the rest of the apartment as a roommate activity, since I don’t get to see my roommate too often. But as soon as I broke out my vacuum, I wound up vacuuming the entire apartment and wiping down almost every surface. Oops! I even (finally) took down my Christmas lights that were in a Christmas tree arrangement and rearranged them in a non-holiday way, as I’ve always liked the look of rooms with soft fairy lights.

Now I walk into my apartment and my room and feel so at peace rather than irritated and angry at myself. It is one fewer obstacle to me actually doing things I need to do. This doesn’t mean I do those things, but I have one fewer excuse now.

Cooking

With the shift in the weather and a desperate need to do something productive, I have been enjoying cooking even more than I usually do. Not only have I been cooking, I’m cooking less familiar foods. This includes:

  • Pancakes from scratch and not from a mix! (I almost never have flour and this is my first time having baking powder in the pantry)
    • Banana pancakes
    • Ridiculously fluffy pancakes
    • Mickey Mouse pancakes!
  • Mac & cheese with cheese sauce from scratch (I had to purchase cheese???)
  • Scallion pancakes from scratch
  • Banana bread

No photos to share this time around, but let me know what you’d like to see me make in the future!

 “Chinese Female Bodyguards”

A friend of mine shared this VICE video on Facebook and I soaked up every single one of its 12 minutes. Because of the absurdly fast-growing Chinese upper class, which includes many powerful businesswomen, there is a growing demand for female bodyguards. Not only is it more practical and safe for women to have a female bodyguard, but having a bodyguard is, in and of itself, a status symbol, and the Chinese upper class is obsessed with displaying status symbols.

It resonated with me, personally, because the women are taught “feminine” things such as walking in heels and putting on makeup. This is not because they need to be “more feminine”, but rather, in China, wearing heels and makeup is a way to demonstrate your respect of other people. In this case, the trainees want to show respect to their clients and their clients’ colleagues.

Also, since assault weapons are illegal in China, bodyguards must be highly skilled in martial arts. We’re not talking Jet Li The Bodyguard from Beijing level skills, but those would be really helpful because bodyguards cannot legally carry weapons. (Side note: That is my mom’s favorite Jet Li movie and it’s a good one.)


The movie is from 1994… and it shows. But I love it. 

Late Night Happy Hours

I am all about happy hour for one main reason: excellent food deals. In fact, I am really baffled by people who only drink during happy hour? We’re in his bar from 6-8 and you don’t want to eat food? But you had lunch hours ago?

Anyway, what I’m really into right now is late night happy hours, since happy hour can be harder to coordinate in the DC area with folks living in Maryland, the District proper, and Virginia. A Friday night late night menu special is perfect for those situations. I went to the one at City Perch two Fridays in a row and really like the food. The service is another story but the food and drink specials are SUPER GREAT. I have definitely found myself suggesting this as an option more than once to my friends. This is a time in my life when I can really take advantage of the fact that I am more of a night owl, as I’ll only start wanting to sleep at 8 PM more and more as I get older.

Porchtta butter buns with fig jam yum!

 

But seriously, if you can tell me another place in the DMV where I can get oysters for LESS THAN $1 EACH, kindly let me know please.

I’ve been working on this post all through March and it’s hard to believe how long ago watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or stress-cleaning my entire apartment feels now.

April is shaping up to be jam-packed with lots of fun, and it’s BEDA so you are going to have random things to read whether they’re quality or not!

What were your highlights from March?
What are you looking forward to in April?

February Favorites

February 2015 Favorites

Our shortest month of the year seemed to pass even faster than usual, didn’t it? It was also a REALLY cold month for us: record lows across the board and the coldest February we’ve had in decades, with some broken outstanding records lasting over a century before being broken this year. Here are a few things I enjoyed during this cold, short time.

TELEVISION

You know I love TV. I was raised on television and it was getting so bad that I gave up TV for Lent last year. Because of that, I basically stopped watching most shows I had been watching every week and haven’t caught up since. (I still need to watch the last season of Legend of Korra!) Because I have this new void in my TV schedule, I decided to fill it with new shows rather than with something productive. The shows I’ve been liking with the new TV season are:

  • Agent Carter

    Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on ABC

    My FAVORITE new show this year, I cannot recommend it more if you like humor, action, good relationship-building between characters, Marvel, plain folk heroes (vs. superheroes), and good TV in general. The writing is great, the acting is good, and I want them to renew this show desperately. Season 1 was amazing.

  • Fresh Off the Boat

    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on ABC

    Basically, every Asian person and any person who knows an Asian person has been watching this show, sometimes out of guilty obligation. Don’t worry, I understand. But you know why it’s good, besides the really funny writing? Two words for you: 90s nostalgia. We are a generation with a heavy case of 90s nostalgia, and this show captures so many of the things we loved about our 90s childhoods really well.
    (And also, the show is just legitimately really funny.)

  • The Flash 
    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on CW

    Do I love Grant Gustin? Yes, yes I do. He’s a cutie. But in an age where too many studios are trying to cash in on “darker, grittier” superheroes (even though not every superhero is meant to be like Batman and in fact are not supposed to be dark or gritty), it’s nice to have a regular guy superhero with a show that just makes me happy. I’m invested in Barry Allen, I want to know what Dr. Harrison Wells’s deal is, and I care about these characters a lot. It’s really fun seeing how they write the villains every week, too.

  • Gotham

    Mondays at 8 PM EST on Fox

    Sometimes, though, a town like Gotham can only be portrayed for what is is: dark and gritty and broken. I have really been enjoying exploring Gotham and its inhabitants, many of whom are characters that we know from the Batman stories. (Also, I adore the young actor who plays child Bruce Wayne. He’s great.) The writing is really good in the pacing, within the episode and from one to the next.

Smithsonian Visits

Even though I have now lived in the DC metro area for nearly a decade now, I haven’t really visited the Smithsonian institutions properly! My first visit to the zoo didn’t even include seeing animals and I only saw the Natural History Museum for the first time on my anniversary. But then I got to see the Natural History Museum again at my first Instameet! And I visited the National Gallery of Art this weekend for a photo adventure with some of my friends from the short film I worked on a short while back.

A Degas sculpture

I’m going to go back one of these days and really take in the art. I am also going to make a stronger, conscious effort to visit al these Smithsonian galleries and museums because they are FREE to visit and just such an amazing resource. I should be taking advantage of the fact that I have free access to the biggest museum system in the world.

Walking concourse between the west and east buildings at the National Gallery of Art

Watching Musical Theater [at Warner Theatre]

I’ve had the chance to watch  not one but TWO musicals at the Warner Theatre. Prior to this month, I had never been to this theater. I saw 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which was a romp for sure. I also saw Anything Goes!, which is more of a traditional (and I mean traditional in the sense that Cole Porter wrote the songs) musical. I’ll be doing a write-up of that soon, but I really loved it. Being at the Warner Theatre this past month has reignited my love for musical theater and really made me miss doing choreography and singing along with a chorus.

Our view for 50 Shades! the Musical Parody. Check out that gilding!

IGDC

I’ve just discovered the #igdc community on Instagram (InstaGram DC) and discoverd so many great photographers in the DC area, many of whom I was able to meet at my first ever Instameet. It’s been so nice to see these amazing photos on my Instagram feed as I slowly allow Instagram to be a social network that I use to follow more than just my friends. Plus, I’m learning so much about DC and the beauty it has to offer.

Follow @igdc on Instagram to see a daily featured photo and check out the #igdc hashtag as well!

Photobooths

I am such a sucker for photobooths. We have them at a lot of events in the DC area and I have gotten to the point where I have some standards now. Lazy photobooths (which I’ll still do and have fun with) will consist of a hung up cloth of some sort and someone taking photos for you. MAYBE they’ll throw in some props. We have a lot of companies in the area that set up booths, have a lot of props, and the lighting in the booth is actually really nice. I saw maybe the best photobooth I’ve seen yet in DC this week. It was amazing because they had so many awesome props for our DC-themed party! I was overwhelmed by the options, so we had no choice but to duck into the booth multiple times.

Shenanigans in this photobooth were the highlight of that party. Each frame tells a weird story XD

Family Group Chats

My extended family + my mom are all in China, so they use WeChat religiously. (Maybe a little too much.) (Definitely a little too much.) For Chinese New Year (holla at me, fellow sheep!), they started a giant group chat to include me, my mom, my dad, my mom’s 2 sisters, their daughters, my cousin-in-law (?), and my uncle. I had to mute it because they’re so active, but it’s nice to be in touch with my family on the other side of the world.

A struggle for me to keep up with because I still read Chinese slowly

 

The Oscars

It’s my favorite award show for a reason. I love the Oscars and I wrote a lengthy post telling you so, complete with a link to my live tweets. 2014 was a great year for movies so the Oscars are a great time to look back and kind of say “Wow, great job Hollywood”. Do they really need that affirmation? Nah. But they give it to themselves every year and we help.

Trivia Crack

The football does not treat me well. Everyone else: we coo’.

 

This is the only game app I currently have on my phone. I don’t really like having games on my phone because I try to keep the unproductive activity to a minimum. (Since I already waste more time on my phone than I’d like.) HOWEVER I do love trivia. I used to like playing QuizUp, which was great for proving how much Disney trivia I knew. But as my friends shifted from QuizUp to Trivia Crack, and I learned very late why my brother was always asking me random trivia questions, I had to indulge my trivia nerd. I used to be on a bar trivia team but we’ve been forced into retirement because of different circumstances. (Moving, our statewide trivia league ditching the bar we went to anyway, etc.

Even though Trivia Crack madness has been winding down, I did like it a lot this past month. It has been forcing me to scrape around my brain for accurate sports knowledge, but no one is challenging me on Trivia Crack and I’m starting to feel like that friend who is always starting new games. My bad!

Are you ready for March? How was your February?