Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Goals

On my 2014 goals, I completed two and a halfish out of three. I know confusing. I didn't lose my college weight, but I did lose some. So I guess that's progress! My second goal, I did perfect my manuscript, and I am still continuing to do so, because, let's be honest, revising never ends! I could revise forever and ever. But I did query a little during the second half of the year and will continue next year. As for my third, I am ready for my Vietnam trip next year! Whoo!

So now onto 2015!

1. Go to a conference! I've been wanting for awhile and I feel like this is the year to do it. Join me in L.A. for the SCBWI Summer Conference?

2. Network. This year, I'd like to make more of an effort in networking. 2014 was spent in a writing cave, which I admit, was kind of lonely. Let's be friends?

3. Visit family more often. In total, I spent only 11 days out of 365 in California with my family. I don't want a repeat of that in 2015.

4. Seek representation.

5. Start and complete a new writing project by year's end.

I'm so ready for you 2015! Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My top 14 moments of 2014

Like last year's post, here are my top 14 moments (in no particular order)! It was a year of many firsts for me!

1. Canada - My first time going this year, I got to see and experience Vancouver and Whistler.

2. Snowboarding - Speaking of Whistler, this year was the first time I got to try snowboarding.

3. Sisters in Seattle - My sisters visiting me this year!

4. Boston - My first business trip where I was practically snowed in at my hotel.

5. New York - A visit to see my sister and a great experience in the big apple!

6. Divergent - Advance screening of Divergent! It's pretty neat to see a movie before it's released to the public!

7. Palm Dessert - This year I got to experience a different kind of California!

8. One Year - Michael and I celebrated our one year anniversary! I consider this big since my last relationship that made it to a year was in high school! Ha!

9. YA Writing Workshop - I went back to school, err, kind of! Just one course, but it was cool to take a class outside of school.

10. Walla Walla Weekend - First time in the Walla Walla Wine country. Oh yeah, and let's not forget that delcicious meal at Brasserie Four!

11. Kristen and Noah's Wedding - And my first time rafting and jumping off a cliff!

12. Crabsgiving - Seeing my family will always make my list! Add the crab is always a good bonus!

13. Christmas Spirit - Christmas was very dear to me this year. This year I got a real tree for the first time and Michael was healthy. Whoo for no health scares this year!

14. New Year's Eve in San Francisco - Technically this hasn't happened yet, but it will! I'll be catching a flight home tomorrow and seeing my family for a four day weekend! Gonna end this year big! Whoo!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monsoon Brunch & Blank Ideas

Brunch is always a good time. There's no better way to start your day than a good meal that you didn't have to slave over; and to top it off, no dishes to do after!

Yesterday morning, Michael and I slept in pretty late. When it's just so dark outside, who wants to get up, right? But alas, we did wake up--but to a very empty fridge. So we decided to go out for brunch. Instead of the traditional American fare, I had a craving for an asian savory breakfast so we decided to go to Monsoon, a modern Vietnamese restuarant that combines Pacific Northwest innovation. If you can believe it, we've lived across from the restaurant for about a year now, and not once had we ever tried it! Til now, that is.

And let me tell ya, it was good. Very good, that I am quite ashamed it took us so long to go in! I am Vietnamese, after all.

We ended up sharing an entree and some small plates. All of which, were amazing.

shrimp steamed dumplings

nem nướng - housemade pork shrimp patty sausage

bánh bao thịt - steamed barbecue pork buns
 I should mention, that I absolutely love steamed bbq pork buns? These were made oh so perfectly!

frittata with prawns, bacon, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, side green salad
 The fritatta was a hit with Michael! It definitely beats the standard fried or scrambled egg.

The other thing I enjoy about brunch is that it allows plenty of time to talk over the meal and even after as you sip on your coffee and tea. This past month, Michael's been up to some pretty cool things with his job. Though that means longer work hours, it allows us to be more present with one another during our scheduled time together.
Michael's really good about encouraging me with my writing, even though I've felt far from confident in it. It's strange, but I have a fear of completing my 6th revision of M2, because once I'm done with it, I have no idea what to write about next. I have a few incomplete manuscripts, but because I've lost interest in them, it makes it difficult to dedicate myself to those stories. I've thought about writing something deeply personal, but after typing up a page and rereading it, all I could do was cringe. I'm not a fan of talking about myself.
I know an idea will come eventually, but I'm just very impatient about it. For now, I'm just a canvas of blank ideas.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Seattle Cinerama: The Hobbits

The last Hobbit movie! It feels like the end of an era as the Hobbit movies come to a close! I remember when I was just a kid watching The Lord of the Rings movies. Oh how time passes. For the last Hobbit movie, I wanted to watch it in comfort. The Seattle Cinerama reopened about a month ago, so I thought it'd be the best place to see it. With reclining comfy seats, great sound, big screen, and a concession stand filled with Seattle treats and alcohol, what could be better?

So yesterday we made it into a double date with Michael's sister, Cristine, and her husband Tim. We met at Tallulah's below our place for dinner then set off to catch our movie.

Can I just mention that they have really good popcorn? I got a mixture of chocolate and butter popcorn, a great mix of sweet and salty, without it being super oily.

Oh and did I mention we saw the movie in 3D? The 3D at the Cinerama is by far the best 3D experience I've had so far. Normally I don't care for 3D, but the quality in the theater was so good, it was kind of like being in a game with all the CGI and stuff.

All in all, I would recommend the Cinerama if you want a better than average movie-going experience. The prices for the concession wasn't too bad and was better than the offerings at the normal big-chain theaters. Only downside is the increase in ticket prices (15 compared to the standard 10), but considering the quality theater, it's not too shabby.

I've heard about some other cool theaters around the area that serve dinner with your movie and what not. I'll have to check out those soon once there's another movie I'm really interested in.

Are there any cool theaters in your area?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Christmas!

Cheers to another Christmas! 

Christmas 2014

This was Michael and I's second Christmas together. Can you believe that? Time sure flies! Just last year I was posting about Christmas 2013 here!

Christmas 2013
Not too much has changed from these two photos besides our longer hair. Again, we spent Christmas with Michael's family and celebrated his brother-in-law's birthday. As usual it was a grand time filled with warmth, love, wine, good company, and such great food!

But before heading over to his parent's house, Michael and I had a little Christmas celebration of our own. Christmas morning I woke up super early! We had forgotten to turn off all of our weekly alarms so I was bright-eyed by six-thirty. It was agonizing waiting for Michael to wake up (as you can tell I'm very impatient when it comes gifts!). You see, last year we went shopping and picked out what we wanted for Christmas from each other, but this year I had no clue what I would be getting (though I had a few guesses). Michael wouldn't even put my gift under the tree and kept it hidden all week so I that I would be unable to shake it and use my deductive reasoning skills.

When 7:40 came around, I could wait no longer! I kissed Michael good-morning and jumped out of bed shouting Happy Christmas!

When the sleepy Michael appeared, he handed me this little box. And we all know what a little box means, right?

A very beautiful necklace!

I love it! Not to mention, I got a gift certificate for a massage! A Happy Christmas indeed!

Unlike Michael, I am terrible at surprises or secrets. I wear all my emotions on my face, making me very easy to read. So Michael guessed what I had got him two weeks prior to Christmas. Nonetheless, I appreciated his feigned enthusiasm!

After gifts I got to work on making brunch: mimosas, bacon, and baguette french toast with strawberries, bananas, and pomegranates. Yum!

Blaire also had a good Christmas. Thanks to some doggy friends of his, he got some neat toys too!

I hope you all had a Happy Christmas with your family and friends! How did you spend your Christmas this year? Comment below or answer in a post on your blog :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Red Cow

So this weekend, Michael and I were pretty glutinous. We had our date night on Friday at Nishino, one of our facorite spots in Seattle, Saturday commenced with me finishing The Borgias (such an awesome show. Why Showtime would cancel season 4 is beyond me!), and then we went to Bottlehouse, another favorite of ours for wine and cheese. At about 8:30 p.m. we left Bottlehouse and couldn't figure out where to go for dinner. We had no reservations so going anywhere would be tough. Then across the street we spotted the Red Cow (mind you a restaurant, and not actually a red cow).

For awhile, Michael had his eye on the Red Cow. It was on his list of places to eat, we just hadn't gotten around to it. That night seemed like the perfect time to cross it off the list. Since we were in the Madison Park area (very residential), we thought we could just go in and get seated at the bar. Alas, lady luck was on our side!

I think I should mention that the Red Cow is an Ethan Stowell restaurant. Stowell owns many restaurants in Seattle. Staple and Fancy which I've written about in this post, is a favorite, while his other Rione XIII that I wrote about last week in this post was not. So I was a little hesitant going to Red Cow. If the meal turned out well, than Stowell, in my mind, would be redeemed.

So, how did it go?

Well, the service was exceptional. Hallelujah! Always a good sign, right? Also, the place smelled amazing and the decor had a good ambience to it. It was also very small and intimate, which I prefer to big noisy restaurants. Michael also noted that they had a good wine list, so at that point we knew this would be a good time. Since the place is on the pricer side of things, we decided that this eould be our Christmas dinner.

We started with kusshi oysters (our favorite kind of oysters).

And for my entree I got the moulles frites and Michael did the steak-frites!

Michael got a 10 oz Wagyu. From this picture, I'm sure you can see he was in steak heaven. He deemed it the 'best steak he's had in Seattle.' The fries were also good and crispy! My mussels were very tender in a white wine thyme sauce, cooked perfectly.

And then for dessert! We had a dessert crepe and it did not disappoint!

All in all. An excellent and memorable meal! Red Cow is a place I would happily recommend and it is now my favorite Stowell restaurant out of the three I've tried so far.

On a side note, due to the west coast storm the past couple of days, I counted four days where I was unable to see the sun nor the sky. It's like living in a dark grey world! Luckily we now have a break from the rain, but I did put my new raincoat to good use!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I was a december evening,
dark and cold
with my sunlight fading.

with a haunted heart
i crawled into my mind
& built up a world,
where i could shine

and i felt oh, so, untouchable
and no one could take it away;
and i felt all so knowable
spread my wings and fly away.

With an april morning
damp but warm
with the dew drops sparkling
a moment reborn.

i was changing
my mind rearranging,
all the good & the bad
either way
nothing ever lasts

but i felt oh, so, unbreakable
though it all seemed like child's play;
still i felt oh, so, capable
to wake up and get on my way.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rione XIII

Normally I rave about trying new places in Seattle, but that's not the case for this post. For our Friday night date night, Michael and I decided to try out someplace new. Rione XIII is a place we've walked past numerous times before, but have never gone to so we decided to go. Friday was our first and probably our last time dining there.

Though we had a reservation, we had to wait 15-20 minutes to be seated. We brushed it off as no big deal since they were probably short staffed. Since Michael and I have worked in restaurants before, we tend to be laid back about mishaps since the restaurant biz can be chaotic. To remedy the situation they started us off with an appetizer on the house. That would have smoothed things over, except we were completely ignored for another 10 or so minutes. Okay. So not that bad, maybe they're just really busy. So finally we order our drinks, appz, and entrees. And they come in fine, except they're laden with salt (besides the salad) which doesn't really want me to come back for more.

All the while, our server is completely aloof that I had to flag him down for drinks and the bill (and no, he didn't look very busy). He just seemed to walk past our table without ever looking unless my hand was raised. You betcha I was disappointed! I expected better service and better food. Though it wasn't terrible, I would recommend so many other cool places before recommending this one.

The only upside to it all? My handsome date.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

I rated it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Overview: Fiercely independent Camille "Cami" Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.
Review: I bought this book because I really enjoyed Beautiful Disaster. I was surprised learning that there was going to be a series concerning the Maddox brothers so I started reading hoping McGuire wouldn't disappoint.
I thought the pacing was good and the fleshing out of the two main characters great, but it didn't pull me in as much as Beautiful Disaster. This is probably due to the fact that I didn't really empathize with Cami. Don't get me wrong. I respected her and her independence but she just didn't grip me tight enough to care about her or her growing relationship with Trenton. Also, don't get me started on the resolution and the twist. I thought it was pretty lame considering the heightened tension. I literally shut off my kindle, turned to my boyfriend, and said, "Are you kidding me?"
It is, however, a typical chick-lit new adult book about a budding romance, so if you're in the mood for that, go ahead and pick it up. But if you have to choose between this and Beautiful Disaster, I would go for the latter. I proably won't continue this series, but if it ends up getting better with the next book, please let me know and perhaps I'll give it another shot.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My First Real Tree

Growing up, we never had a real Christmas tree. We had a six-foot faux tree that I loved taking out and setting up every year with my mom or my sisters. This year, however, I wanted a real tree! Just because I never had one before. So once we returned to Seattle, Michael and I set out to the tree farm in Redmond to pick one out.

The day was super cold! Below freezing with still a dusting of snow from the previous day, but I was persistent and we bundled up.

We walked around the farm for a good twenty minutes while drinking cider. I was really picky. I wanted the perfect tree for my first, and then I finally found it! So perfectly triangular, bright color, and a great smell!

I was completely surprised at how hard it was to saw down the tree. I hardly made a dent so Michael ended up doing it all.

After tying the tree down, we headed to Target to get some lights and ornaments. Then, voila! A very merry apartment!

What kind of tree do you prefer? Comment below :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving Week: Crabsgiving (Part 4)

My favorite food ever is my mom's crab dish. There's no place else I could ever get it besides her kitchen. It's spicy, flavorful, and has so much more depth compared to the standard crab with butter served at most restaurants. She makes two kinds, one with Dungeness crab, and the other will blue crab. The blue crab is so much messier, but sweeter, and the Dungeness has a very unique sauce that can never be replicated. I am drooling and pining for it as I write this because I know I probably won't get to eat this amazing piece of edible art until next year.

Preparing the blue crab. It turns red once it's cooked!

My mom preparing the dungeness!

This year, will always be known as Crabsgiving because I ate so much crab that Michael was surprised I could even eat that much! But when it comes to mom's home-cooked meal, I really just can't help myself.

The day before Crabsgiving, I fell incredibly ill (so excuse my peakish face in the photos below). My throat was so sore, I could hardly eat that I teared up at the prospect of not being able to have my mom's Thanksgiving meal. Luckily, after some asian remedies and a dose of nyquil, I woke up the next morning incedibly better!

A bit messy, but it taste so much better than it looks!

After a great deal of yummy food, my family and I played games, caught the football game, and just hung out. Our holidays are normally low key, just the way I like it. As long as I'm with my family, I am happy.


My mom and I

The sleepers. Cousin Ryan and sister Amy

Cousin Landen.

My sister Oanh opened up a bottle of Fantasia, a dessert wine she's kept since my 21st Napa Birthday wine trip!
To check out my other Thanksgiving posts from this year, click the links below:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving Week: SF and ICHI Sushi (Part 3)

Last year Michael and I went to SF and stumbled upon an amazing Sushi restaurant called ICHI. It was so amazing and memorable that we decided to venture out there again for it (it may just become a tradition of ours!).

Our reservation was in the evening, but we decided to head into the city early before the traffic hit. We caught lunch at Samovar and then walked around the city.

When it started to get dark, we headed into Press Club for drinks. It's a pretty neat wine bar, a bit on the posh side with the leather seats and underground vibe, but the wine list was great. I ended up doing a flight of bubbles!

Then the time finally came! We headed to ICHI. This year we went to their new location. It was more hip and trendy compared to their previous hidden gem location, which made us slightly apprehensive. Once we got the food, however, our fears quickly fell away. ICHI did not lose their inventive touch. Their balance of flavors really brought out the fish, but also made it a unique and surprising dining experience.

Golden Eye Snapper, one of my faves.

With an attentive staff, and high quality fresh food, the drive was so worth it. I think my face shows it all.

Sushi heaven face.
ICHI continues to be the best place I've ever had sushi. If you are ever fortunate to be in SF, make a trip there. You won't regret it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Week: Family Portraits (Part 2)

Nowadays, you can take digital pictures instantly and document your entire life with a click of a button. In the early nineties, my family used those plastic disposable cameras where you go into a drug store and get the photos printed. Remember those? Well I do. My mom took as many pictures of my sisters and I when she could. We have albums full of them. Because they are tangible copies and not digital, they have a certain timeless quality in them that make them special compared to the abundance of digital photos stored on my hard drive or backed up in a cloud. They are instaneous, unfiltered, and literally a snapsot of life.

One of those tangible portraits I loved were our old one hour photo studio family portraits that you can see in this post from last year. Since then, I think it's become a thing to take a family portrait when we are all together. During Thanksgiving we set out to do it again.

The matriarch, sisters, husbands and signifanct other, aunt, uncle, and cousins.

We have a silly side too!
I still find it hard to believe my mom had five daughters! The thought of parenting and being responsible for even one human life freaks me out. I still have a hard time being responsible for my cat! But I am so glad my mom did. Having four older sisters is amazing. They are my very best friends and know me better than I know myself. We are all so different and unique, but the same at heart, and it's all because of my mother.