A White Christmas, The End of 2017, & Looking Ahead to 2018

Alright, my last blog post of 2017! It's hard to believe 2017 has come and gone. I got married, I made some big decisions, made some mistakes, and learned a lot about myself. Here's hoping 2018 is better. ;)

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I'm skipping the WWPR post this week because I haven't made much progress during Pass 2 on my MS. I could blame it on the holiday craziness, or the fact that I've been feeling unwell, but in plain black and white, I didn't do much, so I'll accept the consequences of carving out some revision time in Hawaii. Then again, writing time in a relaxing place doesn't sound too bad, right?

I hope everyone reading had a wonderful Christmas! If you follow my instagram, you'll have seen the huge surprise we received from Mother Nature on Christmas Eve: snow! It was my first ever white Christmas. It was beautiful and magical! I loved it! Because of it, Christmas Day was at our place. It was Michael and I's first time hosting Christmas, so that plus the snow will always make it a memorable one.

Here's a quick highlight of my 2017 in no particular order:

1. Getting married

2. Michael's 30th surprise party

3. Santa Barbara wine trip

4. My birthday in the desert & at home

5. Thanksgiving in California

6. Seeing Banners live!

7. Mother's day visit

8. Meeting K&K / TIU Tour

9. visit from Mic & Joan

10. LA Trip

And because, who doesn't love New Years Resolutions:

Writing Goals

1. Finish my YA Contemporary - the current project I'm working on

2. Draft my YA Fantasy - the one I made an outline of last month

Health & Fitness

1. Level up on yoga - i.e. no more intro classes. I'd like to do more advanced classes and get more comfortable with inversions.

2. Stick through a workout plan - I like to dabble in all kinds of workouts and do them based on how I'm feeling, but it' be nice to finish one completely from start to finish. I've decided to do BBG2 from start to finish when I get back from Hawaii.

3. Learn more new recipes - everything I've been making is getting kind of old. Time to revamp my culinary skills.

4. Practice gratitude more often to keep a positive mindset.

Personal

1. Make more time for people and keep in touch more - I have a tendency to keep to my writing cave and my little bubble.

2. Explore the area - whether it's coffee shops, bars, or new restaurants. I used to be all for trying new things, but I've had the tendency to stick to my favorites (and while there's nothing wrong with that--I do enjoy the novelty of new experiences).

3. Live minimally -  as in don't buy things unless I really need it so I can reduce on clutter. I'm no hoarder, but I do have trouble letting go of paper memories, whether that's journals, photographs, cards, or printed manuscripts. The thing is, they end up in my closet or in trunks, which means I have no space for anything else. So, yeah. I'll try to work on that. 

4. Study up on Wine - I'd like to increase my knowledge base enough to past the level 1 somm test!

 

 

 

 

Christmas 2015: Going home, coming back, and 'The Nutcraker'

Christmas is over! Still a bit hard to believe with the last couple of days being a whirlwind! I'm still coming down from my my ballet high. This year Michael got us tickets to 'The Nutcracker' for one of my Christmas gifts.




'The Nutcracker' was so much fun. The hall was decked out in Christmas decor and all the kids were so excited. The ballet itself was very festive and beautiful. It was my first time seeing 'The Nutcracker' and I loved every minute of it.

Before the ballet, Michael and I went to Petit Toulouse. They're rated top ten in best happy hours in the nation (according to their disclaimer on their menu)! The HH menu is pretty awesome though! Every single bite was delicious and none of the food went to waste.




Oh gosh. This white chocolate bread pudding was amazing. I am currently ranking it two in best desserts in Seattle, with the first being the maple bread pudding at Walrus & Carpenter.


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent with Michael's family. As usual it was a blast with thoughtful gifts, great food, and great company.




Every year, I do miss my family. It's been three years since I spent a Christmas with them. Luckily, this year I flew down the weekend prior to Christmas to see them, also hoping to catch the birthing of my first little niece, Jasalyn. Of course, she was past due and didn't want to see me! But as I write this blog post, my sister is currently in labor, so I'm thinking good thoughts for her and her baby. By tomorrow morning Jasalyn will be sleeping in this little basinet Michael and I gifted to her.



I do have to admit, kids have grown on me! For awhile I thought I could do with or without them, but I am leaning toward them in the future now (like way wayyyyy in the future :P).


Now I can't wait to meet my niece next year!

How was your Christmas? Comment below :)

Pumpkinsss

It's that time of year! Time to get pumpkins!

Michael and I go every year, and this year his sister Cristine invited us to go with her and her husband Tim. We were fortunate to get a beautiful autumn day which made the day even more picturesque. Because I was lazy and didn't take many photos, I stole the one's below from Cristine's facebook.

 

To start, we did a corn maze that supposedly takes 45 minutes to an hour to do. We did it in about 20 minutes thanks to the boys.





To be fair, we did have a map! So without it we'd probably be lost for awhile.

After, we headed to the patch to get pumpkins galore!



Now our home is filled with them! I still felt so festive the day after, I made pumpkin oatmeal balls the next morning before Michael and I hit our matinee showing of The Martian (which was super good btw).

How was your weekend? Are you into the pumpkin craze?

Active 4th Weekend

I'll remember this year's July 4th as the active weekend. My glutes, calves, and arms are still slightly sore, but it was so worth it having my sister visiting. She loves doing active stuff and working out, whereas I'm more relaxed, preferring long walks to intense cardio. Since Seattle is abundant in outdoor activities, Michael and I planned a weekend that would suit her interests.

Friday morning we went to Alki Beach to soak in the sun, then headed to Lake Union after lunch to go kayaking.





It was such a beautiful blue day and very warm. When we returned, Michael and I made dinner for my sister before taking her to the golf course to watch the sunset.


Saturday we did about an 8 mile hike before heading over to Michael's parents for a BBQ. With plenty of food, wine, and conversation, it was a good night.



Sunday I made breakfast before we headed into Seattle and got lunch at Nue, a new restaurant that I'll be blogging about soon.


Then it was off to the airport to say our goodbye's. What a quick weekend it was!

How did you spend your 4th? Comment below!

Memorial Day Weekend: Staycation

Michael and I had this running joke that we were doing a 'staycation' for Memorial Day Weekend. His family was out of town, and it seemed like all of our friends were out as well. Staycation's are kind of nice though, it allows you to relax in the comfort of your own home, and gives time to get those pesky chores, like laundry or grocery shopping for the week, out of the way.

Saturday night, after a chill day of writing (for me) and working (for him), we made it out to Ballard for our date night. Since we hadn't gone to Walrus and Carpenter since the end of last summer, we decided to revisit and then go out for drinks at Bastille.


Walrus and Carpenter has the best oysters in Seattle. If oysters are what you want, this is the place to go.


They also have really good garden, seafood, and meat plates too, but we decided to go all seafood buy getting friend oysters (not pictured), grilled octopus, and sardines. Sardines were definitely a standout and flavor packed.



They also have THE BEST DESSERT! If you know me well, you know I love desserts and the bread putting is to die for and the best dessert you'll fine in Seattle. It's hot, cool, sweet, salty, creamy, all wrapped in one.


After that we got sparkling rose at Bastille before heading home.




Sunday was low key as we made a home cooked meal together and spent the day drinking rose. I got a little bit tipsy while writing which was good and bad at the same time because it really sparked my creativity, but then reached a certain point, getting tired after a glass or two. Still no regrets. I'm making immense progress with the WIP. Cannot wait until it's done!

Today, I felt a bit under the weather. I think it's the grey getting to me. It's so cloudy here that I don't think I've seen the sun since Thursday. Internally, I'm also feeling a bit unbalanced and could use another day off, but maybe getting back into routine will help too.

By the way, we also saw 'Ex Machina' today. It was so trippy. If you're into light sci-fi films, I recommend it.

Hope you all had a good three day weekend!

Asia Vacation 2015: Day 1

My Asia trip came and went! I still can't believe it's over. I'm still suffering from vacation hangover.

[[To recap, this was a family vacation to visit my relatives in Da Nang, Vietnam for ten days. Afterwards, my two sisters, Michael, and I spent 4 days in Seoul, South Korea instead of dealing with the originally planned 12-hour layover.]]


For our first day in Da Nang, my grandfather (on my mom's side) hosted a ceremony (an offering to the ancestors), which really turns out to be a huge feast for those alive. With everyone all in one place, it was a good place to start reconnecting with family I hadn't seen since our first trip in 2009. If you didn't know, my mom is the oldest out of nine kids! Only 2 out of the 9 kids are in the U.S., so you can bet the family gathering was a big one!


Going into it, I was really nervous. With so many people, it was daunting trying to remember everyone's name. Not to mention, I also brought Michael with me. What would they think of me dating a white American instead of a Vietnamese American? Of course my mom approves, but how often did my relatives in Vietnam interact with foreigners? Then of course, I was so embarrassed about my language skills. Vietnamese is a difficult language for me to speak considering I grew up in the U.S., where I hardly ever interact with people in Vietnamese.


One thing I should have known, was how welcoming my big family was and all the worrying was for naught. They greeted us with open arms, and though it was difficult for Michael and I to fluently communicate, I realized genuine communication comes from within: whether it's the look in someone's eyes, a smile on the lips, or the position of one's body.


And did I mention the food was amazing? I mean check out that spread!


After the big feast, a few of us went to the beach. Soft sand, blue waters, and the sun. Just as I remembered it. One thing I didn't remember? How salty the water was! Good thing I only like to walk in water and not swim.


To end the night, we had a big celebration for my sister's 28th birthday!


Golden Gate, Hiking, & Clean Slate

The first day of the New Year was spent in SF walking along the Golden Gate Bridge. There was a slight chill, but it was full of sunshine. Sunshine is something that I have come to miss living in Seattle. Anytime there's sunshine, I try and take full advantage of it.


Up and moving straight out of college is no easy feat. Starting over, entering the workforce, finding friends, falling in love all over again, it sounds easy, but it's so hard. Building up a support system locally is something that takes incredible effort and is something I have struggled with since my move.



During my time in California, I went back and forth. On the one side I wanted this sunshine, the ability to hang out with my family whenever I wanted, to drive down the street and meet up with friends I've known so long. There's a warm comfort in it that I really love. I'm a creature of habit, so little things like that are a highlight in my days.

 

 
But on the otherside, I am above all, a hopeless romantic. Being a hopeless romantic is what got me in Seattle in the first place. It sounds so silly, but I had a strong feeling to chase the possibility of love. Now I know what you're thinking, Michelle you're so young. You should be chasing dreams, not chasing boys! And of course you're right! Boys weren't even a priority for me. I had some really bad relationships that was enough to stop me from dating indefinitely. But at the point when I decided to move, I was still a new grad, looking for a job, and looking for something new. So the job, Seattle, the boyfriend, they were knocks on my door of something new, so I ran with it. And whether I'm in Washington or California, I'm still chasing my dreams.



I write this for anyone who's ever had an impulse to start fresh, but has lacked the courage to do so. It's hard, and you really get out what you put into it. You have to push yourself like crazy and step out of your comfort zone. But if you never try, you'll never know what your life could have been like.

After a relaxing time with my family, I'm starting to come to terms with the idea that California is no longer my home, not right now anyway. But the good thing about California and my family? They will always be there no matter what.
 


Now, I'm back in Seattle. The New Year and the idea of a clean state feels good. Cheers to 2015!