2016

2016

Every year I write a little something about the current year, before it turns into another. I usually have an idea of what I’ll say and feel compelled to write it. This year, however, is one in which I don’t feel the need to. And yet, I am, because I think my future self would really like to get a glimpse of what 2016 meant for me when it was 2016. It was surely an important year for me. So here it goes.

I ended the year 2015 full of emotion. Full of hope and curiosity of what 2016 would bring. Who I would be and where I would go. I guess, for my 2015 self, I would be really proud. I checked off a lot of what I wanted to do this year. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would be able to, but I definitely had the ambition and it succeeded.

2016 was full of learning for me, but I say this every year I’m sure. It’s truth. I feel calmer, patient and realistic. I am so happy with the posts I created this year. Perhaps this contributed to why I didn’t feel the need to reflect because they presented a true sense of who I have been. I reflected all along the way. I took the time I needed. I created art and grew my cooking skills how I wanted to. I think in the past, I would put all these standards on myself and quantify it somehow by how something looked to me rather than how it mattered in the end.

The world changed a lot in 2016 and I changed with it. I gained so much knowledge in living how I want to live (sustainably), myself, the world and the causes that I believe in. The presidential election was a wake-up call to a lot of us. Brought light to a lot of things that needed to be seen and discussed. I feel awake.

2017–I am curious about you, too. I am eager to see you. 2016 was a lot of growing and I have a feeling 2017 is going to be a similar year, but possibly with even more of me taking actions and welcoming new experiences. We’ll see. Que sera, sera.

Happy New Year friends, may 2017 bring us all a lot of love, happiness, good health and gratitude.

green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

For those who are wondering what to do with used cards you receive from loved ones or new ones you don’t plan on using, here’s a suggestion: donate them. I only just learned of this today and I’m happy I came across this. An organization called St. Jude’s Ranch for Children have a used (& new) card recycling program. They accept cards all year round for all occasions. Here is a link to find out more information about this organization: https://www.stjudesranch.org/about-us/

Here is their mission:

“Transforming the lives of abused and at-risk children, young adults and families by empowering them to create new chances, new choices and new hope in a caring community.”

For those who would like to get some DIY crafts going and perhaps use for next year’s holidays, I’ve linked a few resources I found online. I saw some really cool and interesting things!

Martha Stewart Holiday Card Ornaments
Good Housekeeping 8 Ways to Get Crafty with Old Cards
Care2 18 Surprising Ways to Reuse Greeting Cards
Artists Helping Children Recycle and Reuse Christmas Cards with Crafts for Kids

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

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Thinking about how to be more eco-friendly really stretches my creativity. I start to see every day items and give it new meaning. I think about their purpose and the materials it is made of. For instance, this box used to carry bottles of water. In the past, I would see packaging and immediately just recycle. Without a thought of what it could be used for in another way.

Then, I would go to a mega-chain store and purchase organizational furniture or products that could easily be made from the packaging we get all the time: empty boxes, yogurt containers, fruit jam glass jars and even plastic take-out containers. Those yogurt containers could be washed out clean and used as pens/pencils/paint brush holders or planting pots for flowers. They usually have a cute & colorful design anyway. The glass jars could be used to carry extra change or office supplies. Turn your cereal boxes into magazine holders or paper organizers.

After reading this post, I am more cautious with what plastic items to re-use (some plastics cannot be re-used and should be recycled after one use).

Since they are packaging material, they are usually made very well. They are durable and sturdy. Yes, they aren’t the most visually appealing when it comes to decorating your home, but this is where the creativity and fun comes in. Get some inspiration from what you would have purchased and go from there. Paint it or design with magazine pictures or photographs or other items of memories.

Regarding the box pictured above, I have a few ideas to re-use it.

1. Fold in the two flaps on the sides, turn it horizontal and it can now be used as a shoe organizer. I have a metal shoe organizer that cost me money and it may even rust later. But this one is free, does the same job and no rusting since it’s paper. (This is actually what I used this box for.)

2. Take more of these boxes and stack them on top of each other. Stick them to each other by glue or tape and cut away the flaps. Now it can be a book shelf, a DVD/CD/video games shelf.

3. Use this box for transporting items that can’t be separated. The slots make it snug for less moving and the divide keeps the items together, but organized.

4. Turn this box into a memory or toy box. Decorate it with amusing fun images from previous travel trips or toys for your children. Maybe store your old yearbooks or scrapbooks.

5. If you have a cat, see if it can be a fun little toy for him or her. Maru the cat loves playing in boxes. Here’s a cute video of him.

Practice this exercise next time you put something in recycling or the trash. Could this be useful somewhere else?

some home cookin’ V

some home cookin’ V

Yay! Another home cookin’ post. Feel free to check out post one, two, three, and four of this home cooking posting series. As always, I hope you are all well and smiling :) (use your mouse to hover over the image to see the name of the food dish)

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rice vermicelli noodles, fried tofu, fish balls, bok choy

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Fried rice with shrimp and bok choy – scrambled eggs, peas, chopped green onions, a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, some hoisin sauce, some soy sauce, some sriracha, boy choy and shrimp
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Ricotta pie. My first ever pie. I hope to make many more. This one wasn’t my favorite, but my love liked it. He said it has a subtle sweet taste. This is made with chocolate chips.
Gallery

DIY: felt square coasters (originally posted Jan 2016)

Hi friends, I am reblogging this in case anyone wants to make something personalized for any last minute gifts out there. I made this DIY coaster tutorial a while ago, but figured it might be fun for some of you if you missed it. Best wishes everyone :)

the portfolio - in progress

I have been wanting to make this post for a LONG time because I love crafting and wanted to try writing a diy post. Some of you may have remembered a post I did, “felt coaster virtual art gallery I.” They were photographs of most, if not all, the felt coasters I’ve made. Some friends, relatives and co-workers received these as gifts for birthdays, holidays and celebration for a new home and they all thought these were cute. If you happen to make one yourself, please let me know! I’d love to see your creations! :) Also, this was really fun to write up and a good learning experience for me since I didn’t know the technical terms for the sewing techniques. I learn something new every day! Have fun!

You will need:IMG_4866

  • Ruler
  • Thread (color depends on your preference)
  • 2 square pieces of felt (4-inch or 10-cm…

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lemon & orange bars

lemon & orange bars

This is a sneak peak to the next some home cookin’ post. I checked my archives and I haven’t posted one since August (the post’s here in case you’re interested). Whoa.. too long! I’ll feature this in the next one. I’m slowly getting back to it and it’s fun. I made these lemon bars for a birthday gathering and I like them… so much so, I tried it with freshly squeezed orange juice as opposed to lemon juice. Not as defined in terms of taste & reallllly sweet, but I still love that shortbread cookie crust. It’s simple to make and inspires me to try out other desserts. I went a little overboard with powdered sugar, but it’s fitting with snow this winter! I’m giving some to my family as a little treat!

*not sure why the photograph doesn’t stay when you click on it. sorry for inconvenience!

tea time

tea time

I’m drinking warm tea now. The heat trapped in between the water molecules quickly faded as I moved the tea bag back and forth in the cup. Lemon-flavored. It’s so cold now. Of course it is. Yet for some reason, I always let time catch me. I’m never ahead of it, although, I’ve tried a million times. Like on days in which I’ll browse a bookstore and let myself dream for a while. Be a new person who likes looking at travel books, skimming the pages of information about countries I never thought of ever visiting. But somehow, I did today. It makes me feel better being caught in between moments. Makes me feel so fortunate to have the ability and time to just do this. Gratitude sneaks up on me and I’m glad it does. It brings me back to reality that we are alive! No matter what, there is that.

A poem I wrote two years ago, “tea” (originally published here on November 2, 2014)

Water rapidly boil,
Kettle yells for its presence.
Cupping my mug
With both hands.
The warm aroma lifts up to the tip of my nose.
Feeling the soothing warmth
On my fingertips
Cinnamon, ginger along my tongue
and down my throat
Feeling the heat
In my heart.

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

This is such a good amount of information regarding recycling. I noticed myself constantly looking beneath plastic containers now because I want to make sure what can and cannot be recycled. Also, many stores now will take plastic bags and even bulbs, electronics, so be on the look out where you shop because they may have a mini recycling center as well. I recently found out that this website called Earth911 has a database for where things can be recycled in your area. Thank you to the writers of tinycaravan :)

tinycaravan

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

Stop! Before you toss that empty pizza box in the recycling bin did you check to see if it can be recycled? Putting one wrong thing in the recycling bin can ruin an entire batch. In this blog, we give you a brief on recycling 101: the mistake you don’t know you’re making and how to properly recycle at home.

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green tip #9 | sustainability | rethink gift-giving & holiday traditions

green tip #9 | sustainability | rethink gift-giving & holiday traditions

Resources on having a green Christmas:
Eco-cycle’s 6 Ways to Go Green This Holiday Season
Eco-cycle’s 10 Ways to Go Green
Rookie Magazine’s Thrift Your Gift

The links above are so helpful in the suggestions they give on being more green this season! As I continually think of ways to be more eco-friendly in my life, there is a big one that I think everyone should consider: rethink gift-giving this holiday season. Instead, focus on having experiences/memories, giving to charity, feeling happiness, preserving self-wellness and sustaining financial stability. It means valuing meaningful actions and good intentions and spirit. It means being creative in having fun celebrating. Alternatives to giving gifts: give money, gift cards (preferably ones you can send via email), DIY gifts, thrift store treasures, or simply lessen the amount you give.

“…the way we produce, consume and dispose of our goods and food accounts for 42% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means the choices we make about our “stuff” has a bigger impact than driving our car or heating our homes.” – Eco-cycle Website

Holiday waste is a huge contributor to climate change and the depletion of valuable resources we need.

The use of resources 

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Image source: Light and Color Lab

There is this cycle of buy, use, donate/throw away and buy again.

Regarding Christmas gifts, buying new clothing is especially popular this time of year; ties for dads and new ugly sweaters for those theme parties and what about extra socks that are on sale?

“As new clothing comes into our lives, we also discard it at a shocking pace. The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year. That adds up to more than 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone.” – The True Cost movie website

There is a need to really understand what our actions are doing to our world and why we are doing them. The continual cycle of buy and throw away costs too much to perpetuate this pattern.

Blogger of Light and Color Lab  also mentioned the holidays in his recent post:

“Try to be aware of the way you make decisions and how you come to conclusions in a thought process.  Re-evaluate the things you need vs. the things you want.”

peaceful cooking

peaceful cooking

stir-fried bok choy with pan-fried firm tofu in spicy sauce with green onions, served with brown rice.

I made this the other day and while cooking, I became aware of how peaceful the whole process was. This isn’t a new thing. I truly enjoy cooking and baking (although, honestly, not all the time. Especially if I’m in a weird cooking slump.) A time before I lived in my apartment, I wasn’t too excited about cooking. Yes, I cooked and baked, but I didn’t see the joy in it. The value wasn’t there for me. It was either to get it over with to go on to do homework or go out or it was just to feed my hangry attitude (“hangry” = hungry and angry, irritable) after work.

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I’m sure chefs know this feeling. It’s this zen-like time in which I focus on what I’m doing and nothing else. I don’t care what time it is. I don’t care about the other thoughts that usually whirl in my mind. Perhaps this is mindfulness or some form of meditation (blogger friend Lu said it’s like “flow” or “the zone”–yes, a name!). It’s the same feeling I get when I finish an art piece, but it’s much calmer. It’s fulfilling in a different way. It all comes in full circle, I suppose, because during this whole process of cooking, everything else seems in place. The tofu finished cooking as I was done chopping up the bok choy or the green onions fit just right… everything feels in harmony. This is most likely why I get antsy when I don’t feel inspired to cook or to cook something new because I just love this feeling. I love cooking. It’s the cleaning afterwards I have problems with :)