December 25, 2016

Woah, 2016 was one helluva suspenseful year of ups and downs. A summary of my 2016:

SPRING 2016:  I celebrated NYE in LA for the first time. I started my first relationship (a long distance relationship between Tokyo and Los Angeles) I attended my first Japanese wedding and photographed some of it and several other hanami / cherry blossom spots. I visited Kyoto, Kanazawa for the first time with my then boyfriend. I published 3 recipes: Egg Bacon Biscuit Tarts, Spring Sake Sangria, Matcha Milles Crepe Cake. I told my firm I was going to quit and move out of Japan. It was terrifying.

SUMMER 2016: I quit my job at JMA, had a few very bittersweet teary farewell parties, then my USC roommates flew in from Hong Kong and Los Angeles and traveled with me through Tokyo and Kyoto. I fulfilled the 30 things I wanted to do within my 30 last days in Japan. I moved out of my home, moved out of Japan, then moved to Los Angeles. My then boyfriend and I broke up one week later and I hit the lowest in my life. I temporarily helped photograph, design consulted, learned the marketing basics of a culinary start up, and lived in an in-house food delivery startup home. I re-learned to drive and moved into my own studio, interior designed and furnished it. I published my first recipe in Los Angeles: “Summer Fruit Galettes.” I started my new job at Arquitectonica in downtown Los Angeles. I learned how to model in Revit and prepare construction documents. I met Cheftofer and began participating in popup dinners with LittleMeatsLA by cooking and photographing with them. I submitted a recipe to No Greater Good Magazine.

FALL 2016: I went on my first solo trips to liberate myself from horrible reverse culture shock: one road trip to San Luis Obispo and then a ferry ride to Catalina Island. Then I went to Joshua Tree with Alec, Emily, and Jon. I visited one of my best friends, Andrew, in SF, reunited with a few Japanese and USC friends, photographed some . I immediately had another bad relapse of eczema, was put on steroids, and had to rest. I had my first presentation in front of everyone in Arquitectonica’s LA office. I interviewed and photographed for Maru Coffee. I created a new recipe for Popcultivate: “Pear Basil Tarts” and began shooting photography for them. I purchased my first mirrorless lens camera: Sony A6000, baked Pear Basil Tarts with Cheftofer and the team for Popcultivate. I completed 3 recipes: Pear Basil Tarts, Mini Miso Mushrooms, and Pepperoni Okonomiyaki.

WINTER 2016: I re-visited Japan with 5 architecture colleagues who accompanied me from various cities throughout the U.S. I led 5 architects through Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima (and took my own solo trip to Kanazawa) I collaborated with Gabby Gertel to bake whoopie pies. I signed up to volunteer for women and am about to fly out to NYC for the first time. I completed 1 recipe: Matcha Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

In terms of goals, I’m really happy that I’ve fulfilled my goal of accumulating 3,000 followers by December! (As of now – 3,800 followers)  That means on average, I’ve accumulated 1,500+ followers per month since I started focusing on Instagram. It also really warms my heart to receive private emails/messages/questions from you guys.

I’m also happy with my gradual cut down in drinking + impulse buying. Most of my budget has been invested towards photography, home, recipe testing, blogging, and traveling, which are all incredibly important but fun investments for me.

The best advice / biggest lessons I’ve learned in 2016:

“If they can’t handle your worst, they don’t deserve your best.” -Tammy H (or Marilyn Monroe)

Run past those who hurt/discourage me, run with those who uplift/encourage me.

Conquer every morning by accomplishing a difficult obstacle/task every morning. (sleep earlier, wake up before/with the sunrise)

Always keep my car and home as clean, tidy as possible as if I’m bringing a prospective client/collaborator/important individual into my home. Offer my home and pick up to comfort whoever in need.  (I’ve been inspired by my friend who housed a homeless woman while she was studying in UCSD)

Before sleeping, light a favorite candle and read a good cooking/design/entrepreneur/business leadership article.

Don’t ever let a date pay for what I can’t afford. Contribute to whatever way as equal as possible with whatever skilled sets.

Reach out and make myself known. Reach out to help others with photography/design/recipes, or reach out for help from aspiring entrepreneurs/creative agencies/photographers/bloggers. (So far, I’ve received a lot of helpful advice from Alice Gao and Steve Hoffmann, and had bright opportunities with LittlemeatsLA, Cheftofer, and Maru Coffee.

But be pickier with projects and friendships. Go halfway, if someone wastes my time and is consistently late, makes me feel uncomfortable, isn’t professional, or is a threat to my reputation, drop it/them and leave immediately.

Send thank you cards and gifts to stylists/photographers/cooks who help me. Maintain the best connections and embrace people with positive relationships in my circle.

Travel and healthy hobbies are the best investments.