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Valentine’s Day tradition

2011
{Valentine’s Day 2011}

Back in 2011, James and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition: rent a movie and eat pizza (usually Dominos) and sushi at home. We didn’t know it would be a tradition at the time. But it worked out so well, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day this way ever since, with exception to 2012. In 2012, James got his first paycheck right around Valentine’s Day so we went to a nicer restaurant to also celebrate his first full-time job.

I got the idea to stay-in for Valentine’s Day when I realized how stressful this holiday was for so many couples, especially couples who were semi-long distance. James was living in Irvine at the time while I was living in Los Angeles. So we lived justtt close enough where it didn’t make sense to NOT spend Valentine’s Day together.

That night, instead of showing up frustrated like he usually did after sitting in 2 hours of traffic, James showed up relaxed, knowing that that was his one stop for the night. And when he’s more relaxed, he’s also much more romantic, which makes me feel happy and relaxed. We enjoyed a relatively inexpensive dinner, which still felt indulgent because who eats pizza and sushi in one night?!

What’s great about our tradition is that it takes the pressure off. No more deciding on where to eat, what to wear and what we’re going to do to make this day “special.” And without pressure, Valentine’s Day is a lot more fun for both of us.

So if you haven’t made any Valentine’s Day plans yet, why not considering making a night-in your new Valentine’s Day tradition?

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2017 (looking ahead + goals)

Twenty seventeen is already shaping up to be an eventful year.

First off, we have at least 8 weddings to attend (possibly more). And since one of the weddings will be in Boston, we’ll be taking advantage of the short flight to New York and visiting the City right after.

In addition to our Boston/New York trip, we also want to travel in the Spring – perhaps an Alaskan cruise or a trip to Europe. And because we had such a great time celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas, we’ll either go back again for our two year anniversary or visit another tropical island – Turks and Caicos, maybe.

Aside from weddings and trips, we also have new condo issues to deal with. We’re still in the renovation process, which is projected to be done at the end of March (hopefully sooner). Once it’s almost done, we’ll have to start looking for a tenant. Our intention is to move in eventually (most likely when we have kids). But we’re renting it out for the time being to save money. And frankly, we just don’t need the space. Our current 480 sq. ft. studio is perfect for our current needs and lifestyle. The thought of moving into an 1,800 sq. ft. 3-bedroom condo actually overwhelms me!

With the new year comes new goals. I used to focus on habit changing goals like exercising more and drinking more water. But I find goals like that to be way too vague and difficult to track/quantify. So now I make what I like to call “one time goals” – goals that you only really need to achieve maybe once in your lifetime.

For instance, last year, I made it my goal to finally complete my citizenship application. I had been a permanent resident for 20 years and was eligible to apply for citizenship the last 15 years. My mom never got around to it when I was younger and when I became an adult, other things took priority (finishing college, getting a job, getting married, etc.). After the wedding and honeymoon was over, I decided it was time to finally get this thing done once and for all and 2016 was going to be the year. (This was accomplished back in May!)

For 2017, one of my goals is to finally post that studio apartment tour video I’ve been working on.

Another goal is to scan all printed photographs that don’t have digital copies. So pretty much all photos prior to college. The thought of losing all my childhood photographs, especially the ones with my parents, to a fire or earthquake gives me a lot of anxiety. I know I will feel a lot better when I have a scanned copy of every photo as backup :).

What are some of your goals for 2017?

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2016 highlights

I didn’t think 2016 could be nearly as eventful as last year (with our engagement, wedding and the death of our two dogs…) but it definitely was.

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights in chronological order:

  • meeting one of my favorite bloggers
  • having my voicemail played on The Minimalist’s podcast
  • traveling to Taiwan where James and I introduced one another to our extended families for the first time and did a wedding photo shoot
  • becoming a US Citizen (and voting for the first time)
  • attending the Selena Gomez concert
  • continuing the tradition of an annual Palms Springs trip with my college girlfriends
  • driving to SF (stopping by Fresno on the way up & San Jose on the way down) and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • doing the Bridge to Nowhere hike and bungee jumping for the first time
  • attending my first UCLA football game
  • being featured on Miss Minimalist’s blog
  • getting a raise at work
  • buying our first condo
  • celebrating our one year anniversary in the Bahamas

The one major negative event that took place in 2016 was having to put my bunny of 9.5 years to sleep.

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Otherwise, what an amazing year 2016 was.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Real Life Minimalist

Ever since I stumbled upon Miss Minimalist’s blog a few years ago, I’ve toyed with the idea of submitting my own Real Life Minimalist story one day.  But at that time, there wasn’t much of a story to tell.  I was living in a stuffed (but organized) loft and even though minimalism definitely appealed to me, no one would have associated me with the term “minimalist”.

Fast forward to present day, a lot has changed.  After three years of consistent decluttering and a life-changing move last year, my family, friends and even colleagues now often refer to me as a minimalist.  Twenty sixteen was the year I finally felt like I had a minimalism story to share.  So I started drafting my post.

Multiple drafts later, I was finally done… kind of.  For some reason, I wasn’t quite ready to submit it.  Maybe it was because I was still very insecure about “putting myself out there”.  The only people who knew about my blog that point were a handful of my closest friends.  I was afraid of criticism.  There are a lot of trolls roaming around the world wide web.

In hindsight, waiting to submit my post worked out for the better because it gave me the opportunity to add one more paragraph that wouldn’t have existed until very recently.

After I discovered this YouTube channel, I started caring a lot more about ethics and sustainability.  As I ran out of beauty and skincare products, I started replacing them with vegan and cruelty-free ones.  This newfound awareness and concern even trickled into my eating habits.  I replaced my half-and-half with soy milk and stopped cooking meat at home, for instance.

Once I added this unexpected side effect of minimalism into my story, it felt complete.  At the same time, I didn’t feel as insecure anymore.  Sure, a mean-spirited comment from a total stranger would still hurt my feelings.  But I try to remind myself that I am the expert of my opinion and my journey.  And if my story could help, encourage or inspire another person on their minimalism journey, like how so many others have inspired me, then I shouldn’t let fear stand in the way.

So.

I finally submitted my story.  It was published this week  :).

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Taiwan “Wedding Photos”

Our Taiwan photo shoot was only 1/3rd of the price of our wedding photographers and so much more was included in the cost (hair, make-up, rented wedding dress + 2 gowns, tailor, photo album, etc.).  And our friends and family members agree… these photos came out even better than our actual wedding day photos.  So if you’re getting married (or recently got married) and find yourself in Taiwan, it is so worth it to do a photo shoot.  Just make sure you bake in an extra 2 days into your trip because this process does take up about 2 full days!  One day for picking out your outfits, getting them tailored and meeting with the make-up artist/hair stylist and the photographer.  And one day for the actual photo shoot.  Plus you’ll need to set aside 2 hours a few days after the shoot to pick out the 30 photos (among over 200) that you want edited for your photo album.

Another thing to keep in mind, the album won’t be ready for a few weeks so unless you’re staying for a month or more, you probably won’t be able to bring the album back with you.  We got lucky and had a friend visiting Taiwan in July so she brought our album back for us.  If that’s not an option for you, I believe most companies can mail you the album for an additional cost.

 

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the weekend

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James and I pretty much spent the whole weekend hanging out with our parents.

On Saturday we barbecued at my mom’s.  None of us are avid barbecuers and it’s been years since my mom’s grill has been used.  So it took us a while to clean out the dust and cobwebs.  Thankfully, that thing still worked even after sitting neglected in the backyard for so long.

Inspired by my Palm Springs’ trip with the girls, I put together some kabobs while James worked on grilling the steak and corn.  I also whipped up some guac.  Even though the whole ordeal was quite tiring and some of the food was cold by the time we sat down to eat, it was overall a success and most importantly, mom was happy :).

On Sunday we went to my dad’s new house to set-up my new room and have tea and dinner there with my in-laws.  As I unpacked all my old stuff, I was shocked by how much junk there was – blankets that were ripped and stained, elementary school projects that were broken or falling apart, old tutoring booklets, etc.  I was tempted to throw everything away but when I casually mentioned to my dad that I wanted to donate most of my old stuffed animals, he said “you should just keep it…”.  It reminded me of my mom’s reaction when I tried to get rid of stuff at her house and I didn’t want a repeat of that.  So I’m just going to get rid of all the old items slowly as a replace them with new items.