Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Seattle Japanese Garden Weekend

This past weekend Michael and I kept to ourselves, since the weekend before we were with my family. We spent the weekend doing our favorite things. Brunch on Saturday morning at Tallulah's, then a walk at the Seattle Japanese Gardens. The garden was a first for Michael and I, and it was such a treat! Who knew we had such a gem just less than a mile from our apartment? The garden was so peaceful and relaxing that I could imagine Michael writing poems there.

After, we had to do some gift shopping so we went to the University Village. We ended up having lunch and some afternoon cocktails there too and ended up talking for more than two hours. I love the fact that even though Michael and I spend a lot of time together, we never run out fo things to talk about. He's become a best friend and so much more.

For dinner we went to Nishino for sushi and ended up in some interesting conversations with other customers at the bar. Apparently Michael has such a welcoming aura because anytime someone sat down next to him they would strike up a conversation.

We ended Saturday night with my favorite movie: Moulin Rouge. I couldn't believe it when Michael told me he had never seen it before! I fixed that quickly and he ended up loving it. I still have the songs from the movie stuck in my head.

On Sunday we went to Miro in Ballard for some tea and breakfast crepes then went to the Ballard farmer's market. We ended up at Whole Foods after to finish the rest of our grocery shopping. For the rest of the day we took it easy. Michael had to do a little work and I delved into one of my favorite books that I hadn't read for a long while, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (I'll post my review sometime this week!).

For dinner I made butternut squash soup to go along with the baguette we bought and watched Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley.

It was a perfectly relaxing weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Writing Process Blog Chain

Today I am participating in the Writing Process Blog Chain, where writers answer four questions on their writing process, then tag a friend to keep the chain going.

A big thanks to the lovely Karla Gomez for tagging me (click on her name/link to see her part)! Karla is a fellow blogger and graduated with a B.A. in Literature and Writing. She obtained an internship with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and shortly thereafter started working at law offices and as a freelance developmental editor for a boutique publishing house. She is currently working on her WIP which she hopes to self-pub later this year.

Alright, now my answers...

1. What am I currently working on?

I'm currently working on a YA fantasy/romance that I've been referring to as M2 on this blog. I've been working on it since the end of October last year and am currently 2/3 done with my third draft. In May I will be sending it out to beta readers and getting feedback via a YA workshop. After that, I'll get my fourth draft of revisions done and start line-edits.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

What differentiates writers from each other are the unique perspectives we all have. My work differs from others of my genre because of the perspective I have and the experiences I have been through; all of that translates into my imagination and I project it in my words, my stories, and above all, my characters. My work is different because it comes from my mind and my heart. That's my unique stamp on it, and there's no duplicating or imitating it, because we as people are all different, and we as writers, write different things. Sure their might be common denominators in our stories, but that's just like life, isn't it? We as people share common interests, may have similar backgrounds, but when it comes down to it, we all look different, we have differnt thumbprints. And words for writers and how we shape them are our own unique thumbprint. Our own unique perspective.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I keep the young adult genre close to my heart because it's shaped who I am. The books were my friends in solitude, the characters showed me it was okay to be different, and the writers that created them made it okay for me to feel instead of hide.

As a child traversing through the unknown, you need something to anchor you. Books were that for me. It gave me an escape when I needed one, but it also kept me grounded. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but that felt like magic to me.

I write young adult, because I think of the little girl that used to be me: scared but brave, hopeful but pessimistic, a romantic yet a cynic, and more than anything I want to reach out to her and say that it's okay. Everything will be alright. Get lost in my story and maybe when you surface things will start to look different.

The thing is, their are probably a lot of young adults who have felt the way I've felt, so writing is really a way of giving back. Like the writers before me, I want to give young adults a place to escape, a place to love, and make them dream up the impossible so that the chain of unexplicaple magic that books give us, continues.

4. How does my writing process work?

There's one quote by Ira Glass that I found extrememly helpful and agree with immensely:

I think I'm still figuring out how my writing process works. I've tried outlines, detailed notes, character and setting sheets, but I never really stick to them. I do, however, keep a notebook just for story ideas and jot them down, list ideas for scenes, and somehow when I've collected my ideas I arrange and rearrange them until a story forms and I just keep writing. And writing. And writing.

Then I revise, and revise, and revise. After, I edit, and edit, and edit (you get the idea, right?).

I highly recommend Scrivener to those working on a large volume of work. It makes it easier to organize your story and jump from one place to the next quickly instead of scrolling through a large document.

I hope you found my answers helpful and interesting. Happy writing all!

I'm passing this chain onto my friend and fellow blogger Monica Mansfield. Tune into her blog next Monday to see her answers!

Monica Mansfield writes for young adults. Her stories lean toward (or submerge themselves shamelessly in) the mythical, magical and otherworldly. She also has a degree in mathematics which she puts to use counting words, calculating discounts, and every week at her day job. She balances her love of words and numbers in and around Boston.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ghd eclipse & fruit-infused water

Two things I am currently obsessed with: ghd eclipse and fruit-infused water.

So yesterday during my lunch break, I got the holy grail of all stylers:

Isn't that a beauty? It was a pretty penny, but so worth it. Here's the thing. I've been looking like a slob at work lately because it takes too long to get ready everyday. With my old curling and straightening irons, my hair would just take too long for me to even care about my self presentation. I knew I had to do something so I decided to purchase the ghd eclipse, and oh my gosh, it's amazing. Cuts my hair time in half to just 10 to 15 minutes at most! Not to mention the patented technology lets you style your hair guilt-free because it uses optimal heat at the lower spectrum to keep your hair healthy, shiny, and soft!
The other thing I love? Fruit-infused water inspired by Blogilates! Check out Cassey Ho's website. She plans out fun workouts for you via the workout calendar so you don't have to! I just purchased her water bottle the other day and am finally drinking enough water to keep my hydrated.

Happy Thursday everyone :) The weekend is coming!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RTW: What was your favorite book as a child?

In response to the 'Road Trip Wednesday' topic of the week posted by ya highway, my answer is Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen.

I've always been an avid reader as a child, but Flipped was the book that made me fall in love with reading and the young adult genre. It's a stand-alone teen romance in a he-said she-said style with two protagonists sharing their view points on shared events. What hooked me was the characterization and the themes of the book. I cried with Juli when she lost her tree, I rooted for Bryce when he tried to make amends, and when I finished the book, I started to see things as well as people differently.

To me, the change in one's self after reading a great book is magic that can only be found in words within pages. It sparked the writer in me, making me want to create that magic for a young child/adult like myself.

I can still remember myself at twelve years old, reading this book in my bed, with tears on my face (it's not a sad book in the slightest, but it struck something in twelve-year-old me), and everytime I reread it, I can feel myself being transported into my younger self.

If you haven't already, check it out. Then watch the movie, because it's just the cutest thing.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Changing California

This past weekend, Michael and I took a four day trip to visit my family in California. The trip went way too quickly for me. I'm already missing my family, the heat, and the familiarity of it all. The last time I went home was in December for my mother's Birthday, so I was over due for some family time.

Normally, I'm pretty good at taking photos so that I can put them up on my blog, but during this trip I was really in the moment and enjoying my time there that I completely forgot, and now I regret it since I don't see my family much. Luckily, Michael took a few photos for me, so the photocred in this post goes to him (including the blurry ones :P).

We flew in on Wednesday night and had some cheese and wine after quickly catching up with the fam. On Thursday I grabbed coffee with a friend to catch up then went to Davis so Michael and I could grab lunch with my little and grand little from my college fraternity. It was strange, but neat to be in Davis a year after graduating. It was kind of surreal. I showed Michael my favorite cafe, Mishka's, and then grabbed some gelato before driving home. After we relaxed a bit before having a home cooked meal at my mom's with the whole family. Oh boy do I miss my mom's food!

On Friday morning Michael and I shipped my last remaining boxes to Seattle then grabbed coffee and took a morning walk before meeting up with my best friend for lunch at in-n-out. The last time I saw her was last summer before my move! Can you believe it? Nonetheless, we can always pick up where we left off!

After, we met up with my sisters, brother-in-laws, and cousins for some food fun in South Sacramento then went to the movies in Folsom.

Michael snapped this photo because during the trip I was really obsessed with Hay Day,
a game my mother introduced me to.
Saturday was a pretty packed day. Michael and I went to Temple Coffee, one of my fave coffee shops, where I spent a lot of time writing M1. After we went to Scandia with the fam for some mini golf, batting cages, and air hockey! Then it was off to the Cafeteria for dinner and drinks and dancing at the Park Ultra Lounge!

Tran Sisters minus one! We didn't intentionally coordinate our clothing :P

The Husbands and Boyfriend!

Group photo at The Park (sorry for the blurriness!)
This was Michael's first time experiencing the night life in Sac, and I think we showed him a grand time!

Sunday was family day as well as Easter (although we do not celebrate it), so we did brunch in Old Sac and a barbeque in the evening.

Ma mere et moi!
 It was rough to leave home again after such a short trip. Poor Michael had to hold me as I cried the night before my flight (I'm a tad emotional). So many changes have happened in the last two years with my family that it makes it extremely difficult to be away from them. This trip was the last time I would see the house I've lived in for the past seven years. It's not a spectacular house by any means, but it was a place filled with so many memories that it's strange to think I would never get the chance to step inside it again.
The next time I'll be heading back will be for Thanksgiving in November, so it'll be interesting to see what else will change!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love, in the city of Paris...

Once upon a time in the summer of 2012, a young woman and a young man went to Paris. Both had gone for vacation with their respective families. She was a bookworm and still a student. He was a tea enthusiast and owned his own business. Through divine intervention (mostly by the random chance of their sisters meeting at a California Wedding two weeks prior to the vacation), they found themselves sitting side by side at Cafe Rousillon meeting for the first time.

They had less than a two hour conversation that consisted mostly about books and writing since she was completing her BA in English and he had already received his a few years ago. They talked about how much they loved the city of Paris, The Sun Also Rises, and The Great Gatsby. He loved poetry, T.S. Elliot was a favorite poet of his. And she told him about her crazy dream of being a writer one day.

Then as the sun started to set on the city of love, they departed, never knowing if they'd ever see each other again.

The young woman, however, was somewhat of a hopeless romantic (although she wouldn't admit it then), and sent him a message (oh the wonders, of Facebook), and he replied by giving her his e-mail address.

When the two returned to the States, she in California and he in Washington, the two began exchanging letters. The letters went on and as they started to get to know one another, the letters held promise. Without realizing it, they fell for one another.

The letters went on all fall and all winter until he asked her to be his Valentine. She accepted, though they were unable to see one another. The letters soon stopped after that, but the conversations went on through phone and video calls. After she received her degree, they made plans to finally meet again and celebrate a late Valentine's date on April 14, 2013.

That day she flew from Sacramento to Seattle with luggage in hand to stay for two weeks. She could hardly breathe the whole plane ride over. When she did arrive, she found the young man waiting for her at the gate, with purple irises in hand.

Later that night, they finally had their date at The Pink Door in Seattle and have been dating ever since.

April 14, 2013
April 14, 2014
The End
(for now)
Yesterday marked Michael and I's one year anniversary. We celebrated not just for ourselves, but in celebration of our amazing families and friends who supported us and helped us get to where we are now. Love is never an easy endeavor, so we thank you all for pushing us and believing in us. We are forever indebt to you all, and of course, the city of love, for bringing us together. May we have many, many, years hereafter.

Below are some photos of our date last night! We recreated our first date by grabbing pre-dinner drinks at The Tasting Room, dinner at The Pink Door, and a night cap at Liberty Bar.

The Tasting Room in 2013
The Tasting Room in 2014

Apz! At The Pink Door while watching the trapeze artist (not pictured)

Cioppino for Michael
The most amazing piece of lasagna ever, for myself!

Our Desserts!

Opening gifts :)
Opening gifts :)

Nightcap at Liberty

Irises from 2013
Four amethst stone bracelet
for the four seasons we've been together!
*Fun Facts:
-Michael went to Cafe Rousillon with his sister Cristine to meet my sister Dao (I tagged along :P)
-Michael and I met the couple who got married at the wedding where Cristine and Dao met, about a year later at Cristine and Tim's wedding.
-Michael and I's first movie date was Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby
-All of our letters are bounded into a private book that I gave to Michael as a gift
-Michael was my date for my sister's wedding and I was his date for his sister's wedding (both weddings occurred in the summer of 2013)
-If you haven't noticed, our names are the masculine and feminine forms of the same name
-I am the youngest sibling in my family, he is the oldest in his
-Our age differs by 4 years, our birthdays by 4 months, and it also took 4 months from our first date for me to move to Seattle

Monday, April 14, 2014

My first Mariners game!

It's crazy how the sun can just lift your mood immensely! I was all smiles yesterday, because it was such a nice day in Seattle! This has been such a long winter for me. In Northern California, signs of Spring show up in late February. It took until April for me to see signs of it here.

Yesterday morning Michael and I went to grab coffee and shared a crepe at The Essential Bakery before making our way to Leschi Park. Everything was blooming and not one cloud in they sky!

Photo Cred: Michael
 Afterwards, I got to go to my first Mariners game! Cristine invited Michael and I to go with her and Tim, and I'm so glad she did because it was a blast and such a perfect day. Great convos, great drinks, splurging on guilty foods, and sunshine!

Photo Cred: Cristine

Cristine and I

Cristine and Tim

Michael and I

The neat wine glasses with a top that Cristine and I had.
Afterwards, Michal and I went to Bottlehouse for some wine, and more food all the while soaking up the sun. Such a great day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


The SUN is finally shining down on Seattle.

Had to post a happy selfie, because this weekend has been amazing. Oh yeah, and finally stopped procrastinating and finished my middle revisions yesterday after brunch, which means I only have one third left before sending it out to betas and workshop!

excuse my morbid motivation :P

Also tried fried pickles for the first time!

Hope you're all having a fab weekend filled with SUN!