How would I describe my blog?

I’m not a fan of labels. I’m really not.

I guess I can’t quite put my blog in a label. My blog actually started as a list — a list of 101 things to do 1001 days after my last day of college. I accomplished some on my list and some I didn’t, but that’s fine. Two years after graduation, I’m not doing too shabby but it could be better and it has nothing to do with crossing off more things on the 101 thing list.

When I turned 24, I decided to write a list of things to do before I turned 25. I’ve only looked at the list during the month of September (my birthday month) and forgot about it in October and beyond. Next month I turn 25. I forgot what I wrote on my 25 things before I turned 25 but that’s all right too, I think I had a great 24th year.

I guess to me, my blog is just a self-realization, a self-improvement blog and just a focus on putting my best self forward. I write these  goals to give myself a little bit of direction but it’s not necessarily a destination. The other day, I was reading an article on the NY Times on letting go of the outcomes and expectations of your goals and focus on the process on getting there and also don’t turn your goals into expectations — it’s a sad and defeating cycle.

My blog is a one-woman show. I cook, I do Pilates, I do yoga, I run, I write, I work a full-time job, I catch up with my friends, I travel, I take photos, I study, I do my homework, I clean the dishes, and do the laundry and I wouldn’t have that any other way. You really can’t put a label on my blog. I love write my rants, share things that inspire me, share my photos of places I’ve been and writing about my frustrations, what I can do better, and of course my accomplishments — recording how far I’ve come.

Question for you: How would you describe your blog?

Today is that day!!

My 101 things in 1001 days is all over. 

I made this list a week before I completed my college classes because I had no idea what was going to happen after when I was going to finish college. I had this on my mind in June after the graduation ceremony, my friend who was going to take another year in college tells me “since you graduated, you can pretty much do whatever you want!”

It’s a really nice idea but I didn’t know where I was going or where I’d up the year after graduation. Kept putting it off until the end of August — the week before I completed all my classes and OFFICIALLY graduated from college.

I wrote the list and basically wrote whatever that popped out of my head and money was no object. At the time, I just wanted the list to be a source of inspiration — a catalyst to my life after college. In college, I was working on campus and as soon as I was going to finish my classes I would become unemployed and now what?

I think uncertainty was my drive behind the list. I knew realistically, I needed a whole lot of money to accomplish everything on the list and a lot of time.  But looking through, I don’t think I was too shabby accomplishing whatever I wanted to do.

I did get a full-time job after graduation, I did pay off my credit cards, I was able to travel, and move out of my relative’s place which i thought were my biggest accomplishments. Definitely a big mark in independence. I’m very happy that I’m credit card debt free too — it’s made saving money a whole lot easier.

There were some things I wrote about such as building my network and learn 20 cooking recipes but I realized how hard it was to keep track. Also I don’t want to stop networking and stop cooking and stop blogging after my 1001 days. By the way, I’m still back logged in some dishes I made a while back, they’re still in my SD card.

Looking through my list from 2009–a lot of things do change in 1001 days. I remembered I listed “consider grad school.” I really thought I would go back to school by now or maybe a year before but now I’m perfectly satisfied putting it aside. I’ll just keep networking and making connections in the real world. I’ll admit, it’s not easy to meet people but I think it’s the way to go to be successful and live a satisfying life.

Speaking of more change, who knew that I’d end up moving to another city after graduation? Didn’t put that in my list but I let it happen anyways.

Even though I didn’t accomplish EVERYTHING of the list, to me all that mattered was that I lived a good life after college and not fall into a rut. I really do think there is more to life than just getting married and having children (or accidentally having children). I thought having the list at first was far-fetched or well…cheesy but after being around many people having children and getting married young, I always have my list to look back to. It’s like a super-long post-it reminder that I’ve got a lot more of life to go.

I’m going to look at my 101 things list and maybe I’ll put the things I didn’t accomplish this time to a list of things to do before I’m 30. No set number like 30 things before 30. Just any number…

Green Thumbs

So last year, Julie’s Christmas present was a garden. A while back she mentioned that she wanted to try growing her own vegetables. I wanted to make this a surprise but then I popped the question: “What kind of vegetables do you usually use?” This pretty much ruined the surprise. Me of all people should know since she frequently cooks for me. Shameful…

Anyway we decided to get: chives, cilantro, basil, and green onion. So far the project is going smoothly and it also has inspired her to grow some wild flowers. I also picked up another very unique plant that is known for eating bugs… the Venus Flytrap! I’m hoping it grows because I want to use it to ward off insects and birds if possible.

The cost for everything was pretty minimal. Less than $20. Includes the dirt, pot, seeds.

First step: getting the seeds to germinate. Here are some seeds that have been sitting for a week starting on 12/28/11 – 1/4/12

Here are some photos of some that we started a week prior to the picture above.

Basil at 2.5 weeks from 12/17/11 – 1/4/12

Green Onion 2.5 weeks from 12/17/11 – 1/4/12

Cilantro 2.5 weeks from 12/17/11 – 1/4/12

Chives 2.5 weeks from 12/17/11 – 1/4/12. The leaf is towards the bottom of the cup. You can kind of see it.

Present Day, about 20 mins ago….

These Chives were put into a cut up bottle to mimic a green house to protect it because its so small. We’re not sure if we can leave it outside yet.

Green Onions. Just like the Chives we kept these indoors to protect them.

You can definitely tell these are Cilantros.

Last but not least, Basil.

The wild flowers haven’t started blooming yet but pictures will be posted when they do. I hope the plants don’t get eaten by birds or other pests otherwise I would be sad =[. That Flytrap better work =p

Last night my roommate and my boyfriend made an audition tape for “Amazing Race”. Since you can submit multiple audition tapes — one tape per team — I’m going to make one too! I think this was on my 101 list :-P.

I hope I can put some outtakes on this blog!

Also in other news, check out One forty Fiction!

Moonlighting–err…Dusking…as a tutor

Since last week I’ve been tutoring after work about 2-3 times a week.

A few months ago, I left an ad for tutoring because I had plans to go back to school and take some classes. I thought tutoring would help refresh my memory. I had a few people responding to my ad and I responded back and I never hear from them again.

Then all summer and up til now I forgot I ever did post that ad.

Last week, someone responded to my ad and the following day I started tutoring her daughter in math. The next session after that, the mom asked me “when she’s more confident in math could you possibly tutor in other subjects too?” Nice! I got myself a client!

After work I tutored again and the mom asked me “could you also help my other daughter with school too?” Sure…why not.

After a week of tutoring her first daughter, I noticed she’s gotten a lot more confident in math. Always good to know that I’m helpful :-).

Both her daughters go to private school, looking through both the girls agenda books the pile of homework looked pretty overwhelming for their ages. I don’t remember getting that much homework back then.

Anyways it’s easy supplemental income without committing to having a second job. I get out of work everyday at 3:30 and I tutor around 2 to 3 times week week at 4 and I usually end at 5. So my day ends at 5. It’s the easiest 20 dollars (per session) I’ll ever make.

I thought maybe make it a challenge to only live off my tutoring money. I don’t mean use my tutoring money to pay rent…just gas, groceries and miscellany. It helped me save trips going to the ATM to get cash and less temptation to use my debit card because I now get a 5 dollar monthly fee for every time I swipe my card–even if I swipe once for that month.

Using cash would also help me feed my cow. Bessie is looks really hungry.

In other news…my boyfriend makes his debut post. Check it out!

Would you let your significant other guest-post on your blog?

It’s a trip of a life time…

Well…I have many life times and I hope I have more to go.

So anyways I’m hoping to go to Beijing, China around April 2012. My friend from UCLA lives there now. She use to live and work in San Diego after finishing up at UCLA but finding that she wasn’t very happy with being an electrical engineer, she went back home to China to figure out what she wants to do. She seems happier back home and she wants me to go visit–looks like an opportunity. I’ve never been anywhere in the continental Asian countries.

She told me to go April because it’s off season (after Chinese New Years) and that’s when tickets are cheap (cheaper than going to the PI by hundreds!).

Actually today I just checked around for plane tickets and the cheapest ones I’ve seen are between 918-988 dollars and that’s after taxes and airplane fees. Also I found a weird one that was about 600 dollars and then you add the airplane fees and taxes which was 300+ dollars which then the final price was 900 something dollars. But all the other sites had airline fees and taxes around 85 to 100 dollars and it still was 900 something dollars.

I’ll just wait until it get lower because it’s too soon and I don’t understand the difference between a 300 dollar airline fee and taxes versus a 100 dollar airline fee and taxes when it’s going to be around the same price range.

Also I’m trying to plan an itinerary. Ideally I’d like to visit multiple cities if I’m going to be there for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time to visit one city. Anyways I would really appreciate it if you can help me create an itinerary :-). (Lesson: ok so looking around for doing Asia in two weeks –it’s better to focus on one country and explore otherwise I’d be in between flights instead of enjoying my stay–but I still need your help! :-) )

As I romanticize with my coworkers about what I want in the trip, they go “go for it! It’s a trip of a lifetime.” I said “really?

What I really meant was “a trip of a life time…well…in that case I’ve got many lifetimes and more to go.” I don’t want this the be all end all because you’re getting married or you’re having a kid or other commitments. It’s not my first once-in-a-life time trip and I hope this one isn’t my last…

Here is a summary of places I’ve been. I’ll talk about them later and when I find the pictures.

1. When I was 13, I went to Washington D.C.–my first trip away from my parents.

2. Summer before high school my family and I drove to Yellowsone but we went to all these other states on the way and saw other sites. I hope I can find the picture in my parents house.

3. We drove to Canada and visited British Columbia and Alberta. We visited more states and sites on the way home.

4. 2004 – My family and I drove to Alaska and that was when I first started driving.

5.2005-  Paris, France and Northern France — you can see here, here, here, and here

6. 2007 – Japan — Tokyo, Kyoto, Matsumoto–just to name a few.

7. Last year was my first trip to the bay area. I have a lot of college friends living in the Bay so I think reuniting with your old buddies is a special moment.

I’ll eventually post pictures from my past trips–if I can find them :-).

Like I said, looks like I’ve been through plenty of lifetimes and I won’t let this one be my last.

Banned Books Week: Reviewing Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Since it’s Banned Books Week Until October 1st, I’m going to post reviews of banned books I’ve read since the start of this blog.

So to start off I’ll review the first two parts of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This was on the 2010 banned books list.

Why is the Hunger Games series a banned book?

The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of the current nations of North America, in a nation known as “Panem.” Panem used to consist of a rich Capitol, located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and thirteen surrounding, poorer districts which cater to the Capitol’s needs. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol wherein the thirteenth district was supposedly destroyed, every year one boy and one girl from each of the remaining twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery and forced to participate in the “Hunger Games.” The Games are a televised event where the participants, called “tributes,” must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. The winning tribute and his/her corresponding district is then rewarded handsomely. It is required viewing for everyone in the districts.

(source)

Challenges: violence, inappropriate for age groups, causes nightmares

This book definitely lives up to the hype and I usually don’t like books that everyone is so hyped up about.

To me, what makes a good book is if I can draw some parallels to current events. Something that makes me think. Something that challenges me in some way. My favorite type of books are usually set in some sort of dystopia.

I do think Hunger Games qualifies for what makes a good book in my definition. It makes me think how people are into reality TV and what it’s like to be into reality TV. Like in reality TV you are this certain character that you’re portrayed in front of the camera for the audience, yet you are yourself. It’s hard to explain without trying to spoil it for you. I’m really trying to do a review without revealing the story. But think of any person reality who gets the bitch edit but they’re not really bitches in real life.

The book has anti-war tones…It made me think about our troops–being a volunteer yet still a pawn. Coming in with good intentions and come out a scapegoat. Attacking for the sake of shock and awe but nothing truly accomplished…just casualities and sad families.

I think what got me into with this book was that there’s so many references from classic and ancient literature. The whole idea came from Theseus and the Minotaur. It’s the longer version of “The Lottery” meets Orwell meets every Greek hero stories (I took a class on different heroes across different times–Katniss is definitely a Greek hero). This author is very well versed.

The only problem I do have with Hunger Games series is that in the first book Katniss can come off as annoying but it doesn’t stop me from not liking the book. She does develop in the next book, Catching Fire. She seems more mature and aware–the tone and way she just carries herself  is just different. I’m still reading it but so far I think it’s better than the first book–much more twisted.

To you, what makes a good book?

More to come: Naked Lunch, Slaughterhouse Five, and New Moon (yes it’s exactly what you think but it’s going to be a very short review)