Celebrating Baby Yang’s baby shower was much more blissful than I expected; I first thought of hosting a baby shower but was concerned with 1) how friends and family would respond to me having an in-person baby shower during this pandemic 2) the cost 3) the effort having to host one 4) my guy friends being too awkward about joining in something traditionally “for women only”

As I was closing in on my last month “the final stretch” I decided to invite and host family and friends over to our home for an in-person baby shower because  1) I’ve been really, really missing hosting gatherings 2) I’ve been missing my family and friends throughout the pandemic (I am still disgusted that it’s been 2 years and there’s a lot to go) and 3) I was and still am bummed that I just had 1 family member, 5 friends join our own wedding after all of that anticipation growing up and planning for the big day. My coach also reminded me that this day of memories could “replace” those memories – and fast forward, it has fulfilled all of those holes.

It was a total relief that the weather was sweet and dreamy, not too cold nor too hot for friends and family to easily hang out in our patio and/or freely into our home (while also seeing and sharing advice on our baby room set up).  I wanted to make sure everyone felt safe and welcomed, so I had a mix of activities, food, and refreshments outside and inside our home from 9AM-5PM. I get that wedding food and baby shower food don’t need to be spectacular, but it was important for me to support some local businesses without having to make anything myself that could be appropriate for brunch/snacks/sweet tooths depending whenever our guests dropped by.

Thank you so much again Capri and Hangry Bakery for the delectable treats (and Tammy for doing my hair and makeup!) Instax worked really well because as much of a sucker I am for memory keepsakes, I didn’t want to be walking around snapping photos with everyone and worry about getting perfect shots but legitimately catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen in years.

As I’ve been reading more about labor and epidurals and Oly and I’ve been also watching more parenting educational videos, my belly has also protruded more to a point that it’s been much more difficult to move (yes, I feel more like a penguin than a pregnant woman sometimes and waddling is real) As I’ve been struggling to fit into my own clothes, I decided to rent a few RTR outfits including this Rachel Pally dress to save some closet space and not have to commit to buying maternity clothes.

My mother in law being a yacht enthusiast really worked out for party supplies; she has a gorgeous tiny boat model, a classy life ring, and various other nautical props. Facebook marketplace also proved to be wonderful in snagging hand-me-down server trays and being 1/4 mi away from Trader Joes proved to be wonderful for bundling a few of my favorite plants (Eucalyptus and pampa grass) and finding a new favorite like these Eryngium blue flowers.

Since my dad left for a more senior-appropriate home, we’ve turned his bedroom into our baby room – which has been an enjoyable work in progress that we like to work on a little every day. Although I was super enthusiastic about creating this Eames inspired mobile, Oly came to my rescue in finishing it up for me (I guess pregnancy hormones colliding with the anxiety of getting closer to my 3.22 (or the physical labor of delivery) colliding with more physical discomfort is catching up more and more)

By the end of the day (Thank you Weiyi/Vivien for coming at 5:30PM and asking about where everyone was), Oly and I were particularly relieved and exhausted. Opening up our home to our coworkers, family, and friends to celebrate baby Yang (a 2 in 1 housewarming and baby shower) was so pleasantly perfect that I think it made me happier to celebrate this milestone with Oly than our own wedding celebration. It also helps that Oly and I are such morning people and would much rather have friends and family trickle in than a dense crowd of friends and family at night. Was it worth it? Hell yeah.


Growing up, I thought birthdays were the best day of the year until you were 18, then 21, then 30… and that anything after that was just an awful sad reminder that you’re old. I also thought that birthdays were the day of when you have a justifiable reason to be selfish, the day of when you could really do whatever the hell you wanted, the day you hopefully get the presents you wanted but didn’t get for Christmas…(and the day you could tell that those who didn’t say happy birthday weren’t your friends)

But I now believe that a birthday is ultimately  a date to celebrate another year of survival and hopefully accomplishment preferably with loved ones; we all go through incredible experiences earlier or later, and grow older faster or slower – mentally and physically in years.

When I was a kid with  my very active parents and “asian genes”, I believed that my parents could live forever.

I truthfully have done a terrible job in keeping track of my parents’ age (partially in denial that they are aging) and honestly forgot their birthdays a handful of years. It wasn’t until a few months ago that my older brother reminded me that  our dad’s 80th birthday was approaching…and that we should probably buy tickets to LA and celebrate with him altogether.

Because of COVID, we cancelled our flight from NYC to LA. But O and I drove over cross country and were just 50 miles away; I certainly couldn’t let COVID deter my dad’s birthday into anything less than awesome.

So like any other overenthusiastic woman planning for her nonexistent child’s birthday…I coordinated as best as I could the best birthday possible.

Stumbling into his old closet in Orange County, I found photo albums stashed away, neglected and gathered them.

In 8 damn decades:  photographs changed from classy black and whites to ..sepias resembling an Instagram filter… to vibrant colors and smiles of my childhood with my dad.

Without many dates nor recollection of who is who / where is where, I placed the images from top to bottom, left to right based off of the photo quality and how my dad had matured (just hoping that the baby photo I found was of him – and to my amazement- was)

What I love about my dad  is that while he’s been extremely wise, he has always been particularly young at heart – encouraging me to make friends with whoever, hang out with whoever until whenever, play video games like Star War’s Episode 1: Podracer , watch MTV’s Daria, welcome any of my friends over for a slumber party, go out for McDonald’s fries – Full Moon Sushi  – and then probably Wendy’s for frosty shakes on our way back home.

While my dad’s memory has been declining, there’s something incredible about the power of photographs and how they trigger memories. While my dad has been living with strangers, I assembled these photographs to remind him how incredible of a life he’s been leading and that his family and friends were always with him in some form – and to my relief, he soaked it all in and explained to me who they were in smiles.

While my dad’s an absolute genius, he’s never instilled the “helicopter parent” or “crazy tiger parent” demands to be #1 at math, science, tennis, or piano at all throughout my childhood. While I was particularly a rebellious  prick watching some MTV crap,  he was totally faithful in me, patiently helping me with homework everyday. While waiting in lines or in elevators, he’d almost always compliment someone or strike up a happy convo, constantly reminding me to smile and be happy and love others. I was embarrassed, but I get it now. I get why his #1 values were to be happy and always love.

As for celebrating, I thought that it was silly to shower people with gifts and plan accordingly to a theme… but I finally also understand why women, particularly moms go “all out” for their child’s birthday – especially his/her first birthday. This was the closest for me to experience preparing for a nonexistent child’s birthday – one meal and/or present wasn’t enough. Aside from the shadowbox of photos and a Japanese dinner, I prepared a watercolor painting of our dog, big/little dipper card  in watercolor, ice wine from Niagara Falls, a telescope since my dad’s been heavily studying Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the celestial cake.

I get why photographers want to capture every single moment of intimacy and laughter (and why you  designate a photographer while you host/spend time with family/try to Facetime other family/get music) My parents threw me lovely birthdays where I was “the princess”, and on the flip side- this was my opportunity to be treat him like a king.

Days later and coincidentally Star Wars Day…May the fourth be with you and still – Happy birthday dad. I love you to the moon and back x 17.

Thank you so much to all the support and vendors during this time:

Japanese dinner – Sushi Koshu
Cake – Pufffect Bakery Cafe
Crafts – Michaels
Groceries – Gelson’s


Before my flights to Tokyo, Boston, and New York City for the holidays, I purchased my first mirrorless lens camera: Sony A6000 (with a f 1.8 35mm) and a remote. (My goodness, it weighs like a feather, compared to my D700) To test it before I fly out … (tonight to Tokyo), I practiced shooting some food and interiors by starting at my home this past Saturday morning with my furry little friend, Teddy.

Sometimes I wonder if my dog still looks like the same 3 month year old sleeping puppy or a really old grumpy man. Maybe he’s both, depending on what angle you look at him from.

I struggled a lot with directing the light. Every morning there are always these gradients and cast shadows… but I couldn’t help try to photograph my favorite place in my studio and my latest favorite fall snack: Pear crostini with a spread of brie cheese and sprigs of rosemary.

As 2016 is wrapping up, I decided to start focusing on fulfilling specific goals that I want to bring into 2017. Honestly, I haven’t set new years resolutions in years, yet from the habits I’ve developed and progress that’s been made – I’m feeling better about all of this.

  1. Always keep my car clean to drive / pick up anyone in need, my home as clean, cozy, organized, and hospitable as possible to care for a friend / person at any moment. (always have toiletries, cleaned sheets and towels, clothes, books, wine, and ice cream)
  2. Support more local art and participate in more volunteer work (specifically volunteer in food services and help women in need) After the Stanford case and Trump officially being delegated as president, I’m especially compelled to stand up for my rights and do something about specific social issues like harassment, gender inequality, racism.
  3. Tame my eczema. Seriously. This is the most painful, humiliating, and frustrating long-term “incurable” health disorder I’ve been battling for the past 7 years that primarily affects my facial skin, sleep, and stress.
  4. Build my credit score and maintain a decent budget (Less drinking, less impulse buys, designate a realistic percentage of my budget into my recipes, blogs, props, photography gear)
  5. Post one thing every week (one on my personal blog, one on the chefcharette)
  6. Accrue 3,000 followers by December and actively respond to comments/users.
  7. Do something challenging every morning. Hike and watch the sunrise at a summit (inspired from Carl-Ray and my climb up Mt. Fuji)..learn a rap in the car when stuck in traffic. (So far, I can rapTupac-Life Goes On, R.Kelly-Ignition, Nujabes-Luv sic pt. 4, Usher-Love In The Club, and now I’m working on Teriyaki Boyz-Tokyo Drift and Macklemore – White Walls)
  8. Travel somewhere new every month (if not a flight, make my own solo road trip)

Details on the interior:

West Elm Belgian flax duvet

West Elm cozy texture throw

Zara Hydraufallic top

Banana Republic sloan pants

Franco Sarto boots

Crate and Barrel LED birch tree

Crate and Barrel birch plant with rocks (stole from Kyle’s garden because I don’t think anyone should pay for rocks)



After a year of requests to see my bedroom, I decided to try out interior photography and share my bedroom story with snippets. My bedroom is characterized as a Washitsu (和室)- a Japanese style unadorned bedroom with exposed wooden framing and sliding doors inlaid with washi.

When looking for a home,  I look for 3 qualities in a bedroom: 1) A good window that brings in abundant, diffused light into the bedroom, 2) Storage space for my culinary and design equipment, 3) The location being conveniently close to a grocery store and metro station. Back in February 2015, I found this handsome bedroom of rich wood, veneer, and washi inlaid walls. This bedroom fulfilled all my needs and is also a convenient 5 minute walk from my favorite design stores, culinary specialty store, and bookstore including Spiral Market, Muji, Idee, Itoya, Tomizawa and Tsutaya. After negotiating for a reasonable rent with the tall, sincere Japanese architect house owner,  I quickly packed everything in my previous 7m² apartment and carried everything through the rain to this 10m² bedroom.

My main table is what we call a contemporary Kotatsu(こたつ): it sits low and is equipped with a heating element underneath the top. Since I don’t like sitting on the floor, I prefer to sit on the basket stool and use this table for painting, photography, and reading during cold winters.

The tokonoma (床の間), the recessed alcove, is traditionally used for flower arrangements and hanging scrolls. Naturally instead, it became my ritual space for me to pick outfits and apply makeup before work, in between meetings, and occasional events.

Now that I’ve settled in, switched from being an architect to an interior designer, I’ve learned to maximize minimal space, to make my furniture multi-functional, to embrace the formal qualities of Japanese wooden framework and soften it with Scandinavian patterns and textiles. I’ve donated and collected pieces over time, altered and decorated bits every weekend. Home decorating and designing is never a finished project, and it’s liberating for me to freely roam with my creativity in my bedroom. My bedroom is this calm sanctuary with existing Japanese furniture and accumulated gifts from friends and family all over the world. These historical pieces remind me of my roots and surrounding myself with these warm, meaningful pieces gives me a sense of closure wen I feel lost and overwhelmed in a bustling Tokyo.

Details of the mix:

Customized Idee readymade curtains.

Bed sheets from mom, Muji pillows, Loft pillowslip cover.

Clothes and shoes from Zara, Rope Picnic, Uniqlo, Lemaire, Banana Republic, Fed International, Parare, Randa, Pura Bianca.

On the cabinet daily essentials: Matsuyama Alternative face lotion, MIMC eyeliner, Anastasia brow palette, Kiehls ultra facial cream, Shiseido BB cream, RMK lip balm, Ooshima Tsukbaki hair oil, Muji herbal bath salts.

Pearl necklace birthday present from mom, Kanazawa handcarved wooden piece from a local landscape architect.

On bedside table: Yumiko iihoshi espresso cup, Kinfolk home issue, Muji FOUND notebook, black Pilot gift pen from Itoya.

On the Kotatsu: Honey from my brother in Paris, Muji calculator, Design magazines and Bow Wow book from Tsutaya, Handmade wooden coasters from Maruni workshop.