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Category Archives: Hobbies

We started out with a 4.5 mile run to Louvre and Tuileries garden this morning. Weather was perfect!

I was just posing 🙂

Then washed up and went to get breakfast. We had croissants at this Jewish bakery but almond croissant was the only good item here.

Still needed to fulfill my croissant craving, we went to another cafe for a mini croissant and it hit the spot. Look at the size of that “medium” latte though. It’s much smaller than Starbucks “tall” size.

A metro ride later…

Our first stop was Musee de L’Orangerie which houses a bunch of paintings by Monet and other artists from Impressionism era.

Our next stop was to Rue Cler (street with many food vendors and stands). We stopped by 4 or 5 places to pick up the picnic essentials: bread, cold cut meats, cheeses, sparkling water, etc!

We walked to Champs de Mars park by Eiffel Tower to picnic. But because neither of us love sitting under the sun, we sat on a bench in the shade lol. Everyone else who were picnicking sat on the grass in the sun.

The picnic items we got were perfect! We had some leftovers.

Then we took approximately 50 selfies in front of Eiffel Tower because… when in Paris!

We walked over to the exact spot where we got engaged and took more selfies (tip: use the timer for best selfies but make sure no one will snatch your phone and run)

Paris is having issues (strikes) with public transit. It took us a while but we made it to Notre Dame next.

Cherry blossoms!

So tired from walking all day so we went back to air bnb to nap and snack (chicken rotisserie and potatoes from Franprix supermarket…. we had been meaning to try this since our last Paris trip) Another side note: 2 chicken legs and potatoes were 3.9 euros. What?!! It’s like Costco price.

After a nap (jet lag), it was about 4:30pm and we went back out into the heat (83 degrees at that time) to walk to Saint Chapelle.

We both literally said wow when we saw the massive stained glass windows.

Saw a flower market/nursery nearby.

Then we walked back to La Marais for dinner. I wasn’t hungry after that chicken but still wanted to eat. We shared a falafel pita pocket. This wasn’t from the famous place but actually tasted A LOT BETTER. It’s from a place called Chez Hanna.

We had 2 sugar/butter crepes for dessert.

Husband still wanted to eat so he got a lamb shawarma but I was done with eating after crepe tonight.

This was a long tiring day but we did a lot and ate a lot so it was a successful 2nd day in Paris!


4:40am:  Woke up before alarm went off at 4:45. Made coffee and ate a few pieces of brownies I baked last night. 

I watched some random YouTube videos while drinking coffee before husband wakes up…  I like watching inspiring and uplifting videos in the mornings.  They put me in the right mood to start off a productive day.  This morning I watched about bullet journaling and how it improves productivity and lifestyle.  I’ve been thinking about starting one but I don’t think I have the patience.

5:45am:  Went out for a long run.  I ran 11 miles with 5 x 800m.  Satisfied with the splits.  I felt good.  I love track sometimes.

8am: After shower, I made a breakfast taco with eggs and salsa. Ate with beets I roasted last night.  Followed by more brownies 😛  

I don’t remember much what I did between the brownies and 11am.  I read my book, played game on my phone, talked to my husband.  Just stayed on the couch basically.

11:30am:  Walked to Farmers Market with hubby.  We both love this farmers market so much, it’s so lively and has a good variety food stands and a live band. In the summer I go nuts on the stone fruits they sell here.


Husband got food from a few food stands and I ate from him.  Samosa, fish taco, hot dog, and boba. 

I got those Lula Roe tights as a gift (thanks, T) and I wore those out today.  And I could not believe how comfy they are!  Soooo soft and stretchy. I just need to figure out what tops to wear with them.  I will love to wear them for traveling and red eyed flights.

12:15pm: Walked to Trader Joe’s for grocery shopping.   Just a few blocks from farmers market. 

A couple of adults and kids were giving free hugs at a street corner.  I hugged 3 strangers and they were so nice 🙂

1pm:  Stayed in the area and watched a movie (Guardian of the Galaxy vol 2) at this historic/old but cool theatre. We saw it on 3D and I think I got a light headache from it.  It’s funny and action packed, lots of computer graphic.  It’s a fun movie!

4pm:  Picked up Ethiopian food from Ensarro for early dinner.  It’s our favorite Ethiopian restaurant.

5pm:  Done with dinner.  Ate icecream and more brownies for dessert…  Hong Kong Milk Tea is a new flavor from Humphrey.  Wish it had more tea flavor.

6pm:  Finished reading Waking Gods… I’m giving it 3 stars.  It’s a sequel to Sleeping Giants which was amazing.  Sequels can be a hit or a miss.  This one is kind of a miss.  But if there’ll be another sequel, I’ll still read it. I need to know what happens!

I actually enjoyed the story and the plot. I’m just not a fan of the writing style.  The whole book is presented as pages of interviews, dialogs, journal entries, and news reports.  

That was the 12th book I read this year.  (I set a goal to read 25 this year.)

7pm:  Cracking open a new book from the library.  It sounds very promising! Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

8:30pm: Watched the first few minutes of Manchester by the Sea on Amazon Prime then hit the hay.  

Spring is here!

I haven’t run a good race in over 1.5 years and I’m bored of running slow.  I’m going to change things up a bit with my running!

Ever since I started running five years ago, I focused on running long distance races.  Now to change things up, I am signed up to do a 5K race 7 weeks from now.  Because I did no speed workouts for the last 1.5 years, I’ve lost quite a bit of running fitness.  Track workouts and tempo runs will be back in my life again.  They are keys to getting faster.

My (preliminary) goal for this upcoming 5K is 23 minutes or under.  That’s 7:23 pace.  I’m not in shape now but I think it’s doable.  The only other short race I’ve run was a 10K and I ran a 7:26 pace… two years ago when I was much fitter.

I will document my training journey for the next seven weeks.  Writing about it on the blog will hold me accountable to continue training hard 🙂

Today (Saturday), I squeezed in a short track workout during my 10 miler.  I warmed up with 5 miles easy then did 10 x 1 minute at my neighborhood track.  I ran 1 minute fast, 1 minute of jog/recovery, and repeated 10 times.  I set my Garmin to beep every minute at track and I didn’t even look at my watch for pace.  My FAVORITE part of each speed workout is reading the pace afterward!  It’s so satisfying.


It’s my first track workout in a long time so short intervals were a good start.  There’s much progress to be made in the next few weeks.  I’m excited for the new training cycle!


A brief race report:

I ran Rock n Roll San Francisco half marathon three weeks ago.  I ran 1:59 and it was my second slowest half marathon to date!!!  My slowest was my first ever half marathon in 2012 and finished at 2:01.  This shows how unfit I’ve become (and it kicked me in the rear to train again.)

My favorite part of the course was this….  there was a major hill to climb toward Golden Gate Bridge, and there were pictures of fallen soldiers lining the course for a good half mile or longer.  It’s such an emotional, touching part of the race.

My second favorite part of the race course was running on Golden Gate Bridge.  The highlight for me was seeing my dad on my return route on the bridge.  We highfived each other but our hands missed and we just kept running.

Finish line was pretty crowded but it’s normal.

My dad finishing his very first half marathon!  We couldn’t be more proud.

He has his eyes on a PR in his next race in August!

Have a nice weekend, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

My reading pile for the next 2-3 months.  Two from the library and the rest from my sister.

There’s something pleasurable about reading from actual books. It’s so comforting and cozy to read from a real book.  Print isn’t dead yet. There are people who refuse to do ebooks because real books give them the pleasures that ebooks cannot.   Now I understand.  I look forward to coming home from work, have dinner then immerse myself into whatever book I’m reading. 

Currently I’m reading Still Alice from the pile.  The books I mentioned in my last post were also SO good, I’m so happy that I’m finally discovering books that I love again.  Last whole year I felt like I was in a reading rut.  I’m rediscovering my love for books and loving this feeling!

Happy New Year! It’s a new year for new beginnings! So refreshing.

First of all, my husband started a blog on sustainable and healthy living topics. Check it out:  Modest Health.  Several good articles have already been written based on his knowledge of working in a sustainable business environment and his personal experience in a healthy, fitness lifestyle (he’s a marathoner… and a fast one)

Now let’s get to my 2017 goals!

I started working toward these goals since last month already.  I couldn’t wait til a turn of a new calendar to get started.  

I made sure that my goals are MEASURABLErealistic, and attainable.

Goal # 1:  Read at least 25 books in 2017

I somehow slacked off on reading in 2016. Blame it on life changes such as moving and getting married. Also blame it on traveling more than I ever had in my life. I just didn’t find the inspiration to read last year. So I finished only 13 books.  (I list all the books I read on Goodreads so it’s easy to keep track.)

I entered these Reading Challenges on Goodreads.  I read 51 books in 2011, versus  13 books in 2016.  I’m sure I can find more time to read.  I already went to library twice last week to get books so I am on track. 

Goal #2:  Learn at least one new Instant Pot recipe per month

We received an Instapot or IPot from our wedding registry (thanks, jie!) 

(Instant Pot)

So far I’ve used it a few times to make basic stews.  I would like to find new recipes because that thing can do so much more! There are many web forums and blogs dedicated to IPotting and electric pressure cooking.  One new recipe each month with IPot seems doable.  I’ve been in a cooking rut lately so this will be good for me.

Goal #3:  Take 15000 steps per day on average 

I don’t have a Fitbit or Apple Watch and I don’t want to obsess over the numbers on a daily basic.  Having said that, I do look at my iPhone’s built-in Health App once in while to see my activity levels. 

I carry the phone with me on my runs so the steps are counted.  (Since I resetted my phone recently, I lost my data for last year to report).  My typical work days can range anywhere from 10000 to 20000 steps depending on whether I run and how far I run. Weekends are a little more active, around 25000 steps. On average I was around 13000 steps each day in 2016.

Below is an example of my steps yesterday. It’s not accurate sometimes but good enough. I ran 5 miles in the morning,  then walked to a supermarket and a donut shop about 15 minutes away later on in the day. So the numbers should be a little higher… but close enough.

So let’s say my daily average in 2016 was 13000 steps.  I will try to increase it to 15000 steps  in 2017!  I walk a lot on my work commute and I like to run so this is an attainable goal.

If you haven’t tried this app, just open the app and see how much you’ve been walking.  The app is built-in on iPhone 5S and later generations.  The data are at your finger tips!

The App on iPhone >>  

I will try to report my progress on all three of these goals periodically!  So stay tuned for that :). Now that I wrote those down and published the goals, I will have to make these happen!!!

Have a great 2017!

I was just looking through my Instagram pics and realized that I sort of have a green theme going on. Kind of sort of 🙂


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

It is probably too late to say this now because it’s almost 9pm, but stay out of trouble, folks 😏


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 👍👍👍👍1/2

It’s very rare for me to find books that are so engaging from start to finish. And very rarely do I feel sucked into a book like this.  I come across page-turning books like this probably one out of ten books I pick up, so I try to savor them when I find them.  Only that the savoring lasts just a couple of evenings.  If I’m lucky. 

No spoilers.

The book is about a flu pandemic that wiped out 99% of the world population (think of the movie Contagion but much worse) and about the lives of the survivors before and after the event.  

Surprisingly the book isn’t dark or depressing.  The chapters switch back and forth from a few weeks before the apocalypse to 20 years after the apocalypse.  The lives of the characters are intertwined in the past and the presence throughout the book.  It makes you think about the civilization, what we have today, and what will become of us if we don’t have what we have today.

It’s a beautifully written book that flows well (maybe too well since I couldn’t put it down) from chapter to chapter. No surprise the book has won many major awards including one from NPR.

My other recent book reviews:

Angela’s Ashes

The Martian

The Girl in the Spider Web

I would only review books that I love or hate. Sadly many of what I read end up somewhere in between.

It’s been 9 days since I got back.  I’ve been catching up at work and with friends, family, and relatives since I got back. It’s nice to be back!  

I have to say though that taking a vacation is good for your soul and it sure makes you appreciate your daily routine/life when you get back!  You live out of your luggage for days or weeks and experience unfamiliar yet exciting things. Then you feel removed from reality to some extent after a while. I don’t know if this makes sense.  One of the best things about coming back from a long vacation is to be HOME and back to the routine that you love (and if you don’t love your daily routine or your everyday life, it’s a wake-up call to make changes.)

Having said that, I’m back to my running routine.  I’ve been running long distance for the past couple of years.  This was the longest break I’ve taken from running and lost quite a bit of fitness.  Last month, I ran only 39.5 miles total. That’s less than how much I typically run in a week last year during training! It’s gonna be a long road back to fitness.  

After watching the dramatic finish of Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg at Olympic Marathon Trials past weekend, I’m feeling more inspired to kick-start my speed training.   


So…… I am registered for a few half marathons this year to keep my running fresh and motivating.

March – Oakland Half

April – San Francisco Rock n Roll Half

September – Giant Race Half 

So I will say this here for accountability that I will train for a PR at the September event. My half marathon PR now is 1 hour and 43 minutes.  Last year I wasn’t able to focus on half marathon pace since I trained for a 50K and two full marathons at much slower paces. I’m excited about this change of pace!  

You all know I love to blog about food all day long. I kind of miss taking photos of food 😊 I have not been eating anything so exciting lately to be honest.

XLB on Geary: 

Chinese New Year Picnic with relatives. Apparently my aunts forgot to bring main dishes so we ate what we had 😁  

My Valentine was out of town on Vday so I spent it with my parents. (My dad and I were sitting on the bench at first and my mom swooped in quickly for the pic. Hehe)  

Hot pot with family:  

Some home cooking:  

My favorite way to make salsa.

Finished a page on my coloring book:  

Bought these in Thailand and love them in my skincare routine! Good to know that I can buy big bottles from Amazon when I run out.  

Have a nice day!!


 My ratings: 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a Pulitzer-prize winning book.  Judging from its bookcover, it isn’t a cover that would get my attention right away and it was on my to-read list for several years due to good ratings by a few people on my Good Read circle.  I did not expect to like it so much. But I really did.

This book showed me what poverty is in the most vivid and brutal terms. It’s a memoir of an Irish man’s childhood and how he grew up and survived in an Irish slum.  From start to finish, it had me feeling extremely grateful for having a roof over my head and an abundent of food to eat and clothes to wear. 

Some parts of the book made my heart ache.  The author and his small siblings starved, had no clothes to wear, had to peel walls of their house to make fire to keep warm, begged for food, etc., but their resilience was remarkable.  

The author wrote two more sequels to this book and I may pick them up in the future.   

I’ve been having some fun playing with my jewelry making supplies! It’s an outlet of creativity!  I have so much to learn in crafts.

A work in progress.

I like them simple.  But my “simple” may be different from yours 🙂

I made the thick necklace that sits at the base of my neck and layered with my existing necklaces.  The thin strands were bought ages ago.

Hmmmmm…. So many possibilities!  I have several Swarovski crystals to play with for my next projects.

Okay now onto some of my favorite random images lately:

What a nerd.


Love this pic from a scavenger hunt a few weeks ago!  Running buddies for life 😍😍😍




In a few weeks I will be going to these countries. I’ve been counting down!

The temps are not too hot or too cold.  Pleaseeeee stay this way!!!