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This morning we took a train from Paris to Amsterdam.

It was 3.5 hour train ride on Thalys and such a good, relaxing ride.

We got to Amsterdam at about 11am.

Did early check-in to hotel at Renaissance (thank you, Marriott points). Such a nice hotel and a big upgrade from our old, tiny Paris air bnb apartment.

Amsterdam is even more beautiful than I imagined it to be.

There are many American tourists in the central area. And most local people speak English pretty well compared to people in France!

We heard and read about this outdoor market Albert Cuyp and had to check it out for food! We had a good variety of items.

Mussels with whiskey cocktail sauce… Mind was blown. So fresh and hot and perfectly seasoned.

Freshly squeezed OJ

Currywurst… major comfort food!

Dutch sausage

Freshly made stroopwafel with caramel filling… really liked it!

Chocolate milk from a can

Chicken on sticks (oversalted!!!)

Another order of fried mussels because they were that good

The market was really nice for photos!

After filling up our bellies, we took a long walk back toward our hotel with several stops for sightseeing.

We don’t understand the fascination with this sign but still joined the crowd for selfies.

Dam Square

We also had to walk by the infamous redlight district but of course photos weren’t allowed. It was… interesting.

We came back to hotel and I squeezed in a short gym sesh. I figured with all the meat eating, it would be a good opportunity to build some muscles 😛

After that, we were out again for free welcome drinks at hotel bar.

Then we moved onto our dinner at Van Speyk for amazing Dutch food.

Starter of roasted veal and beets.

SUDDERLAPJES aka Dutch beef stew with mashed potato and sausage

Lamb chops

Everything was very good! We are impressed with Dutch cuisine so far.

For dessert, we walked to a cafe called Winkel 43 for their famous Dutch apple tart which exceeded my expectation!

On the walk back to hotel, we got a Belgium waffle to-go to eat in early morning before actual brunch.

This place was a tourist trap and charged us 4 euros for a plain waffle (it’s 1 euro in Belgium and can’t be much higher here?!)

Nevertheless, the waffle is so freaking bomb, I had a hard time not to finish it. It’s supposed to be breakfast tomorrow.

I’m pretty beat from yet another long day. We have only one more full day left before heading back to the States.

I took a really hot bath at hotel and now I’m feeling so relaxed. Good night!


I woke up feeling really, really tired so no running this morning!

Portuguese tart as morning snack.

We went to a farmers market but it wasn’t ready yet. Not all the food stands were open yet.

So we settled for a small cafe next door for breakfast. Croque Madam and cafe creme please!

Gum jar…. So nostalgic, it reminded me of my childhood gum with temporary tattoos of Donald Duck on the wrappers.

Galeries Lafayette for some shopping.

Terrace was pretty nice

Bought a little something

Palai Garnier opera house. Gorgeous inside.

Especially this room. It took my breath away.

Today was what I called a “free day” to do whatever we want without an itinerary. So we took it pretty easy. We went to Angelina because we keep hearing about it from friends and tv shows.

They’re famous for their thick, rich hot chocolate made with wild African chocolate.

We decided this is gonna be our big meal of the day.

Little pastries to start with hot chocolate.

Onion soup (omg forget the onion soup we had last two nights, this was the best) and croissant sandwich with egg and ham

And last course was some kind of brioche toast soaked in creamy milky broth and caramel sauce.

After getting our sugar fix, we decided to walk home. Google Maps says half hour walk. It took us nearly 2 hours because the route home had so many shops to browse. We had nothing left on agenda today anyways.

We passed by Louvre and it was a zoo.

I saw this perfume at a department store and it was the only high-end perfume available in Burma when I was young (I think) and my mom had a bottle that she kept in her closet to make her clothes smell good 🙂 Another nostalgia.

We went back to air bnb for rest again! It was that peak high temp time of the day again.

Then we went back outside for grocery and food. We got dinner takeouts from an asian place, rotisserie chicken from a butcher shop, and salad and smoked salmon from Monoprix supermarket!

It’s gonna be an early night! So tired! (I hate hot temps and too much sun)

Hello!  I’ve been away from blogging just because I haven’t gotten much interesting stuff to share.   I thought I would pop in here and update on how I’m doing with my goals for 2017.

1) Read 25 books this year 

I’ve read 18 books so far in 2017 so I’m definitely on track. I love how easily I’m reaching this goal. I have been lucky with discovering good books lately and when a book is good, I finish in a couple of days so this goal has been pretty easy to reach.  A few friends have asked me how I find time to read books… I don’t watch TV so that frees me up for reading!   I have a few favorite books from past few weeks:

1) Dark Matter.  Read this if you like actions and sci-fi.  It’s about a man who travels through parallel universe, it’ll really make you THINK what your life would’ve become if you had chosen certain paths.  I could not put this down and couldn’t wait to read it each day.

2) Orphan Train

It’s not as depressing as it sounds.  Trust me!   It is actually a feel-good read!  If you like Angela’s Ashes, you WILL love this.  The story takes place around the depression era and I admit, that era really really fascinates me and I love reading anything, everything about it.   Read this! This is not a depressing read!

2) Take 15000 steps each day on average 

I’m doing very well with this goal since I’ve been running 30+ miles a week.   Also I walk a lot on my commute to work.  I don’t feel like I even have to think about this goal.  It just happens with my lifestyle.  

I lost my Garmin watch recently.  After much much much comptemplating (do I really want to complicate my life further with another gadget?), I decided to buy an Apple Watch.   Literally a day after I got my Apple Watch, I found my Garmin in a purse I hadn’t used in a while  😭

Average steps this month = 17000 (or 8.5 miles a day on average)

3) Try a new Instant Pot recipe each month

Major fail on this goal.  I’ve been using my instant pot to make beans but not trying new recipes.  I have not been in the mood to explore new recipes. I’ve been sticking to the basic recipes like soup/stews and stir-fries where I can just throw in a bunch of random stuff.   Also, I’ve been seeing lots of Instant pot recipes for meat dishes but our household (my husband and I) rarely cooks meat at home.  I’ve bookmarked some meat recipes to try in instapot though. It’s just that we don’t crave or want to cook meat at home,  is it weird? We are omnivores.  We do enjoy eating meat when we eat out but we just don’t cook meat at home. Instapot is amazing to cook meat dishes. I should really try some new recipes!  I still love having instant pot at home to make beans.  They taste much better than canned beans.

Some updates from past few weeks or months:

We went to Portland (I shall write a post about this fun-filled weekend). 

Bay Area stuff:

Fourth of July at A’s game


Eating with the fam bam:

Cooking at home:

My cousin’s baby shower (I made the diaper cakes to add to the existing beautiful decorations – she’s having twins so TWO CAKES :))

Some trail running:

Damn I lost so much fitness. This route was a breeze 2 years ago but I was dying on this run.  

See you on next post 🙂

Our second day’s itinerary was a visit to Manhattan.  So this included taking the subway with the little ones.  We (or was it just me) didn’t know that subway system here is not stroller- and handicap-friendly.  Most stations had no elevators or escalators.  So the adventure.

We got to Chelsea Market by 10am.

It’s quiet at 10 (people started pouring in after 11)

It’s a food market so we snacked our way through the vendors.

Seafood market 

Lobster bisque… oh so rich.

Pies from Tuck Shop.  One pie with Guinness steak and another with chicken green curry. Both were very good.

A place called “Very Fresh Noodle” that serves very fresh handpulled noodles.

It’s one long piece of noodle in the bowl!

Walked and walked and walked….

The weather was so icky.  My shoes were soaked the whole time.

Thanks to the shower, Time Square was not crowded!

We came across Wafels and Dings by Bryant Park so we had to get some Belgium waffles with spekaloo spreads.  I love them!!  

Bryant Park was lush and green.

Next stop was NY public library.

It was such a zoo inside with so many tourists (like us) taking pics, how are these people even studying or reading?  Visitors were not allowed to enter the reading area but were allowed to stand by the door to take pics (like how I took those pictures)


Marble columns on first and second floors 

A quick visit to Grand Central Terminal

And a visit to Grand Central Market

And we subwayed back to Brooklyn to our apt and got some Mediterranean food to go from a neighborhood takeout place.


When I was in my 20’s, I always thought that if I were to move away from the Bay Area, it would be to New York City.   Now that I’m older, I can’t say the same anymore.  But I still love the big apple.  I’m on my 5th visit to the city for vacation.   My last visit was over 5-6 years ago.

 In my previous visits, I’ve stayed in Queens, Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Upper West Side (twice).  This visit, I’m staying in Brooklyn for the first time. And it’s bringing me lots of new sights and experiences.

We are staying in one of the streets by Broadway which has a train track right on top for miles. 

The neighborhood scared me a little to be honest. It looks rough.  After a red-eye flight from San Francisco, we were really tired.  And our air bnb’s check-in time was not until 3pm.  Luckily, our host let us drop off the bags early while she cleaned the place.

Our first stop was Equilibria cafe in Williamsburg. (First cafe we found with a lot of seats.)

O M G.  I am familiar with the hipster culture in San Francisco but Brooklyn’s Williamsburg takes Hipsters to a whole new level.   Everyone dresses alike in certain ways…. really quirky to my fashion-conservative eyes.   I obviously couldn’t take pics of strangers but I took mental notes.

We spent over 2 hours at the cafe, tried to wake ourselves up from the lack of sleep from our red-eyed flight.  We each had 2 cups of coffee and stuffed our face with copious amount of pastries to hold us over til late lunch later.

There was even a french bull dog residing in the cafe.

I love that the cafe offers adult coloring books and color pencils.  So hip?!?

Later, we checked into our air bnb and Diana and company (my in-laws) arrived from Chicago!  We headed out to the super hip and famous Roberta’s for pizza.  

Their outdoor space looked like the stuff from a junkyard put together but they made it work.

I was starving by then but honestly I think the pizzas were really, really, really good.  The crusts were charred to just the right amount and it was thin without being soggy in the center.

After pizzas, we went to Brooklyn Bridge to walk.  

It was late in the day and lots of people were out.

The whole gang… with two little ones in the big stroller.

For dinner we got take-outs from Little Mo for Korean-Vietnamese fusion food.  We ordered 8 buns, 3 rice bowls, pho, and wings. 

And we all went to bed early.   Brooklyn has shown a lot of characters so far.

March is here!  A few posts back, I wrote about setting 3 goals for 2017. Let’s see how I’m doing…

Goal #1: Read 25 books in 2017

I finished 6 books so far in 2017.  I’ve been enjoying all the books I’ve been reading, but my favorite one has to be this book written by J.K. Rowling, published under pseunonyn Robert Galbraith.

As someone who was obsessed with the entire Harry Potter series many years ago, I was thrilled to find a new series of adult books under the same author.  I was also worried that this would not live up to the expectation of Harry Potter’s awesomeness.  It was different from HP (of course) and still perfectly written. J K Rowling does not disappoint.   Never a dull moment with her writings.  There were clues given throughout the book and they were unraveled in the final pages. And I’m sure more clues will be given throughout the series that will continue to connect the dots and solve the mysteries… I hope this is gonna be a long series!

And I made an effort to pick up a real book (versus reading it on my kindle :))

I am currently reading:


Goal #2: Average 15000 steps a steps per day on AVERAGE

I knew this was going to be a difficult goal to achieve especially with the nonstop rains in the last few months.  My year-to-date average right now is almost 13000 steps a day (6.5 miles roughly) according to my iPhone’s built-in app.   Weather has gotten better since last week and I’ve been more active outdoor since. So I will be slowly increasing my average going into warmer months in the spring! Slowly but surely!

Year to date = 12900 average 

February average = 13700 average

Last week average = 17300 average

Cannot wait to start running in shorts again!

Goal #3: Try one new Instant Pot recipe each month

I’ve been doing pretty well with this goal! 

So far this year, I’ve used my Instant Pot to make steel cut oats, garbanzo beans (from dry beans), black eyes peas, and a variety of stews. I love the convenience of just turning it on and forget about it until the timer beeps.


Chickpeas after pressurecooked for 35 minutes. (Tea bag was used for color for a curry recipe) A year or so ago I boiled dry chickpeas on stovetop for 2 hours and they were not nearly as soft as the pressure cooker method! 

Another batch:

Having these goals is really motivating me to keep reading, cooking, and staying active 🙂

See you next post!


Relaxing day today!

I went to the hotel’s gym early to run 4 miles.  V ran outside since the gym was as warm as outside. I didn’t want to run outside in humidity.

It’s a coconut plantation outside our hotel.

I got half pound poke with deli salad from Foodland  for my breakfast. Totally weird craving for breakfast but I was satisfied after this!

Our flight to Oahu was in the early afternoon. We flew Island Air — small plane and quite a bit run-down.

And our seats were vibrating so much at take-off. The plane was just so small and old!


Bye, Kauai!

Hello, Oahu! Is that Disney resort’s beaches down there?

Our first stop in Honolulu was Marukame Udon in downtown. It’s not at all crowded like their Waikiki location, love that!

Their udons were as good as I remembered them to be! We had it last year at their Waikiki location.  (Side story:  Last year I ordered a curry udon and V ordered a sweet beef broth udon. I had a major food envy and asked him to trade midway.  He let me trade but did not look happy about that, so I felt bad and we traded back.)

This time I made sure to order the sweet beef udon for myself.  It really hit the spot!  It tastes more complex than it looks.

The food was so good, we ordered more food to-go to eat later.

Then we went to Foodland (for about 5th time on this trip so far) and picked up more food.

It was about 3pm already by then.  We checked into our air bnb and just chillaxed there all evening.

Our air bnb is in a residential neighborhood near  Hanauma Bay.  The houses are huge around our neighborhood. Our air bnb is a cute little studio attached to a big house.

It’s chic and minimalistic. I love it!

Dinner spread: Tako poke, bukake cold udon with dipping sauce, chicken teriyaki rice bowl, spicy ahi tuna, haupia cake, and pineapple cheesecake pie.

Not much else happened today. We ate our takeaways for dinner, took a walk in the neighborhood, and drove around a bit to see what’s in the area.  After 3 active days in Kauai, a relaxing day with some down time today was very much welcome.  

North Shore tomorrow!

I was right. I woke up so sore all over my body from that strenuous hike yesterday. It’s almost like post-marathon soreness.

We had ziplining on our agenda today and I questioned myself how much I could move. Luckily my muscles warmed up as I moved around and the soreness faded a little.

8am: The weather was kind of gloomy early on and it even sprinkled for a short time.


We did the 8-line zip tour all over this valley.   There were 7 of us on this tour and it’s a small group so we didn’t have to wait long for each of our turns.  

One more thing checked off from my bucket list 🙂 

We finished ziplining by 9:30am. We went to Puka Dog for Hawaiian-style polish dogs. They were not amazing. The sausage to bread ratio was disappointing. Their tropical relish is what make them unique. I got coconut relish with lilikoi mustard.

We stopped by the Spouting Horn but the hole wasn’t blowing much water. We left.

We went back to our air bnb and decided we have plenty of time left in the day to go snorkeling. My body did not want to move cus it hurt.  I had to take an Aleve and it really worked! 

We went to Poipu Beach and set our stuff down.

The waves were calm and sun was out. It was perfect condition to snorkel. And there were so many colors and sizes of fishes in one area. I couldn’t get enough. 

We snorkeled for an hour and I don’t know how the time passed so quickly.

After beach, we stopped by Uncle’s Shave Ice for this frozen treat.

V had to to-go a plate of spicy garlic butter shrimps for second lunch. It was as amazing as the first night we had it! I hope to go back one more time before leaving Kauai.

After resting a bit, we went to the historic/old Koloa Town to walk around and visited a few shops.

And we got Hawaiian dinner from Koloa Fish Market:

It was OMG good!! And we have leftovers for breakfast tomorrow 🙂

Later we went out to see sunset at 6pm.

So many people were waiting too.

The rain poured down for a minute or two while we waited.  Twice!  It rained about 6 times today!

Rainbow and sunset; what to watch?!

6:10pm Sunset in Koloa, Kauai.

Hundreds of parrots go back to their nests at sunset time every night at the palm trees outside our place. Its noisy and interesting!

Sightseeing day tomorrow and maybe another hike… !

I read Harry Potter’s book #8 two weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to write my thoughts on it.

First of all, I actually read it in a REAL book. With PAPER.  I’ve been reading 95% of my books on my kindle past few years so this felt refreshing…. And amazing!! In fact, I promised myself to read more hardcopy books and less on my Kindle.  There’s just something so different about reading on an actual book versus on a kindle screen.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The 8th book yet not the 8th year. The story is 19 years after the 7th book. So a lot had happened. The book is in a play format so it was very very different from the first 7 books and it was a quick read.

If you’re a Harry Potter BOOK series fan, this is a must read.  All the characters were very alive and funny.  I was so sucked into it since 5 pages into the book and really really wished the story would go longer.  I felt with every single Harry Potter books that they would never end cus I just love them so much 😉  

I found myself savoring each page of the Book 8, much like the 7 books prior. It didn’t disappoint. Now I can only hope J.K. Rowling would continue with Book 9…