Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tokyo 2015: Part 1 - Learn before you go

I don't know about you but traveling to another country is a total eye (and mind blowing) opening experience. New city, new food, new language, new perspectives, new environment, new air (I mean even air doesn't smell the same) and new culture are all part of travel experience. In the past, I could care less when I traveled to some place new (not necessarily overseas but domestic travel). As sad as it may sound my top choice always turned out to be major shopping malls. I could care less about historic sites, national parks or something in that nature. I would rather go shopping. Now that I am older, I look at vacation and travel in a completely different angle. I want to learn, see and experience at a deeper level.
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When visiting a foreign country, I feel it is very important to do some research about the country/culture and learn the "don'ts". Some people may say, well we are tourists and won't be there forever so who cares. To me that is called ignorance. I do care. When you visit another country, respect and manner are equally important. In this day and age, free resources in all sort of forms are available all over the internet such as Youtube videos, articles, blog posts - you name it! Of course we are not going to know everything but at least learn something before you go can help prepare and enhance your travel experience.

As I read more about Japan, there are many interesting facts. Do you know that you do not have to pay tips in Japan? While giving tips is a must here in the States, that practice is NOT common or necessary in Japan. It can be perceived as an insult if you do tip as well. Yay for some money saving :P If you plan your trip to Japan (or just out of curiosity) be sure to check out some of the videos below to get you started.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How to boost your mood on a cloudy day....

These beauties are right in my backyard. Looking at colorful flowers always make me happy and lift my spirit. These are the combination of wildflowers, annuals and perennials. I just hope Spring lasts a little longer so I can enjoy them more. I always feel that spring is the shortest season of all. The weather has begun to feel like summer some days now down here but most days are cloudy I almost feel like I live in England with an overcast sky and rain 5 days a week. 

Flowers look their best in spring, don't you agree?

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Clean and safe home

Let's talk about cleaning. Cleaning is not fun, I admitted it. Living in a clean and organized home makes me happy but I don't like cleaning that much (who does anyway?). Bathroom is an easy room for me to clean but I can't stand the pungent order of the toilet bowl cleaner, the bleach, the mildew stuff. Every time I clean our bathrooms and toilets I feel like I choke and need to run out to get fresh air every few minute, no kidding! My nose is burning from bleach fume. Then after the bathroom and toilet are clean, the chemical odor lingers for a very long time.
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It got me thinking, inhaling these chemicals directly or indirectly couldn't be good in a long term. In this age and time, more and more people have been diagnosed with  cancer that has no cure. The numbers of affected people are really striking and alarming. Although we don't know exactly what is the underlying cause of the disease and who will get such disease, I will want try to minimize the risks as long as I can.

Eating healthy and selecting organic produces are the way to go but we can still expose to the nasty stuff as long as our lives are surrounded by dangerous chemicals in our household. In the past 7-8 years or so, I started switching our typical personal care products to more natural options (soap, lotion, shampoo for example). Some stuff worked well and some didn't. My husband and I never really tried to switch our cleaning products because we didn't think natural based cleaning products could clean effectively We didn't quite believe in the power of nature until recently. I think the only thing we bought and tried was the Seventh Generation Dish Detergent to clean our daughter's bottles when she was younger.

My husband and I are TOTALLY blown away by products from The Honest Company. Years ago, I heard that Jessica Alba launched her brand which focused on safe and natural baby and family products but never checked it out. 99% of the time, I would buy natural baby's products (soap, shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen) for my daughter since she was born and I've tried almost all the brands in the market. We frequently used California baby until one day we ran out so I went to Target and saw a Honest liquid soap/shampoo and bought on a whim. Both my husband and I thought it worked really well. My daughter skin is moisturized after her bath, her hair feels clean and it doesn't leave a residue. That was our first impression with the brand. Then next I found a deal on Zulily.com which I could get the 1st monthly subscription from the Honest Company for just $19.95 (regular price $35.95). The monthly subscription or "Bundles" contains 5 products that you can choose. My thought was that I would just cancel it after one month because I was not into subscription service and I thought it was too expensive. However 4 months later, I am still subscribed. That says something. Everything I've ordered WORKS wonder (except a hair conditioner which doesn't work well with my daughter's fine hair).

I have never written any review for household products but these two are worth mentioning. The reviews are my honest opinions and I paid for the products with my own money.
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Toilet bowl cleaner 27 fl. oz. ($5.95): This was the 1st cleaning product I ordered and wanted to try. To tell you the truth, I didn't have a high hope. For years, there are some stubborn stains inside the toilet bowls that no bleach/Lysol could remove. NONE EVER! Didn't matter how much bleach we poured in there.

I was skeptical when I start squeezing the bottle and saw that the liquid was so thick and concentrated, it stayed along the rim (unlike Lysol which dripping into the water). The scent is Eucalyptus. It was nothing comparing to Lysol which was so pungent. After I used the Honest Company Toilet Cleaner for the1st time and started scrubbing, BAM! The stains were melting away like magic! I never got such excitement seeing a toilet bowl but I did that day. My husband was beyond amazed. We are SOLD! The best part is that I could barely detect the odor when in the bedroom. I could smell it slightly in the bathroom but it disappeared not too long after and didn't bother me at all. That led us to explore more cleaning products from this brand. This bottle will probably last for a long time, it is very concentrated. I like the tip because it is pointy and small so it could reach the area under the rim quite well.
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Bathroom Cleaner 29 fl. oz.($5.95): after our impression with the toilet bowl cleaner, I decided to try a bathroom cleaner next. I use this to clean kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, shower and bath tub. Our shower's floor once again had stubborn stains that nothing could get rid of. This cleaner has the same scent as the toilet bowl cleaning. The trick is that you have to make sure the surface you clean has to be dry before you spray. Leave it for 5-10 minutes then start scrubbing. My husband said he didn't even have to scrub as hard and the stains started dissolving in front of his eyes. Our shower never looked this clean, the last time we saw it this clean was when we moved in the first year! It was AMAZING and not to mention the Eucalyptus scent, much better than mildew products (yuck!).

I think I enjoy cleaning bathrooms more than ever now. It sounds crazy but true. Knowing that what you use is safer for your family and environment than most conventional products in the market makes me feel better. I wouldn't say it is 100% safe that you can drink out of the bottle but enough for me to feel comfortable using such products around our little one. I highly recommend if you are in the market for a toilet bowl cleaner or a bathroom cleaner.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Next adventure......

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It has been over 3 years since our last overseas trip. I am so thrilled we are about to embark our journey again but this time will be a different experience. As some of you know my family lives in Bangkok, Thailand.  The purpose of going is solely visiting and perhaps doing a few fun things while there. This year we are going to visit two countries in one trip. We are so excited as this will be a new and exciting place for a family of 3 to explore. Our next destination is Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo is known for the most Michelin stars of any city in the world, helpfulness of the locals, nightlife, shopping, public transportation and cleanliness of the streets. It is a modern and vibrant city with old charms. Tokyo Tower, kimono, sushi, Ginza and more to explore.

Funnily, we stopped at Narita all the times while en route to my motherland but never stepped out of the airport to experience the country in the past 10 years. So why now? With all the stresses that happened last year, I felt it was important to live, chase the moments and enjoy while it lasts. I can't let the fear of uncertainties hold me back or stop me. You still continue to move on and make the best out of it. At least when things get so bad you still have wonderful memories to remind you of good times. Let's go! What we are most excited about this trip is that we will get to have some very unique and memorable experience. Can't wait to share!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Out in a wild

A few weeks ago we took our daughter to the wildlife park. This is almost a yearly visit and a family tradition. It was fun to see those animals up close. Some of the big animals like bulls and buffaloes look quite scary due to their size and strength but they appeared to be gentle (not that I wanted to mess with its giant horns). We left the place happy but filled with dust.
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Saturday, April 11, 2015


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Gardening is satisfying and can be addictive. I never realize I enjoy gardening this much. Every year I try to grow different vegetables/fruits for more varieties. It is quite fun and interesting to see how each vegetable/flower grow and evolve. This spring I try some new vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage and corn. The last 2-3 years, I never had success with green bean, corn or snap peas but this year they are taking off like crazy. I am about ready to pick my first batch of green beans and snap peas. Yum..yum.

Having an organic garden can be very challenging, no wonder why organic vegetables/fruits are so expensive. They are high maintenance. We are talking about dealing with unwanted creatures such as worms, bugs and did I say "slugs" (ewww!). My goal is to go 100% without the use of chemical. My strategy is to rid of those yucky enemies by hands (with gloves of course) which is not easy and extremely time consuming. Thanks to my little one who is not afraid of the slimy slugs, she is my garden's life saver! Some vegetables attract more pests than others. As you can see the poor cabbage has evidences all over (thanks to slugs who ate the leaves for me). Broccoli is such a breeze to grow. Snap peas and green beans have the yellow leaves at the beginning I thought they were going to die but somehow a miracle happened. Whatever it is, I am so pleased.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I hate sewing: One Year in the Making

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Project #5
Yes, it took almost one full year to complete this little dress. Not because it was a highly intricate project or anything but primarily with everything that happened last year my creative juice simply ran dry.

I started out with a lower portion of the dress and let that project sat on a hanger over 6 months. By January before I forgot how to thread the machine, I figured I should do something to refresh my memory. I decided to take on another project (a yellow dress with white polka dots which I will post the pic later). Hence skipped my unfinished project once again. As Easter quickly approaching, I pulled the trigger and thought it was about time to get it done. I gave myself a deadline by Easter so this dress finished just in time. Only a few hours before we headed out to the Easter lunch.
I like how the dress turned out with a vintage and romantic touch of pink lace as sleeves. See a 2014 version of the Easter dress {here}.
I Hate Sewing episode
How it all started | Project # 1 | Project # 2 | Project # 3 | Project # 4
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2015

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. It was not a good day for outdoor egg hunt activity here on Sunday as it rained in the morning but we managed. As always we headed over to my in-laws' house for some scrumptious lunch/dinner and enjoyed each other's company on the cloudy day.
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