Reflection on 2017

I was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers & my recent injuries to stop and take a moment to reflect on 2017. This was a year full of life changing moments that I know will continue to shape us in 2018.

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January

The year started off with a ton of fun. I had a fun weekend in Shanghai with my (at the time) fiance riding Mobikes around the city and drinking milk teas. I went to the annual EF conference in Wuzhen with my coworkers and won the Best New Teacher award. My favorite part of January was experiencing my ever Chinese New Year with Harry’s family. It was the first time many of them met me, the infamous foreigner who would soon be a part of their family. I was greeted with so much love, kindness, food (so much food), and even red envelopes.

 

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February

February was all about preparing for our wedding registration. We needed certificates. We needed photos. And of course we needed a nice dress. Besides wedding prep, Harry and I had a very romantic Valentine’s Day date in Shanghai where Harry took me out to eat Western food (what I always craved) and then took me to see La La Land which I LOVED. We were lucky we caught it because it had such a limited release in China. I still listen to the soundtrack every time I need to feel inspired.

 

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March

We got married! On March 7th, Harry and I became officially married at the courthouse in his home province. His mother and cousin were our witnesses. There wasn’t any big party (that would come later), just us deciding we’re in this for the long haul. As soon as the ceremony was over, we hit the ground running on preparing all the documentation for Harry’s green card.

Other special memories this month were celebrating my friend Warren’s birthday in Shanghai, meeting more of my husband’s friends, and making ice cream sandwiches with one of my more difficult classes. I had been struggling with this particular group since I started teaching and this was a turning point for our class.

 

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April

April was filled with lots of traveling. My husband and I took a trip to South Korea at the start of the month. We couldn’t have picked a better time to go. The bitter winter weather was finally ending and the cherry blossoms were already starting to bloom. It was absolutely perfect. The street food, the clothes, the cosmetics, the BBQ, the FRIED CHICKEN!? I had a blast and can’t wait to go back.

Next I took a trip to Guangzhou alone to visit the U.S. Embassy and to turn in our petition for Harry’s green card. The embassy portion of the trip went smoothly (praise the Lord!) but the rest of my trip did not go as smoothly. I hope one day I can go back to Guangzhou with Harry and explore more. I really liked the vibe of the city. It felt so different from where I was living.

April was also when I shot my first ever paid video. It was also my first video ever made in a foreign country. A very exciting moment creatively.

 

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May 

May was so busy because we were preparing to leave China and had so much to do to get ready for America. At the start of the month, Harry and I went to Suzhou and met up with his college friends. I took a really fun trip to Anji with my friends to celebrate Apple’s birthday. Mike & Kelly came to visit China! I got food poisoning and thought I was going to die in a Chinese hospital. Finally, I said goodbye to so many amazing coworkers, students, and friends. During all of this, we were also packing up our apartment and mailing boxes to America.

After I said goodbye to Jiaxing, we went back up to Harry’s hometown and held a wedding ceremony. We had over 200 guests that came and celebrated with us. I got to wear a lovely red dress (the traditional wedding dress color in China) that I had picked out with Harry’s mom earlier that month. After lots of red envelopes, hugs, dinners, and fireworks, Harry and I set off on a mini honeymoon to Japan.

 

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June

June meant returning back to where it all began. Harry and I took a trip back to the city we met, Okayama, only this time we were married! It was so surreal and beautiful to be back there as husband and wife. I had the opportunity to visit my former Junior High School students who were now in their final year. They were so surprised and excited to see me and meet Harry. After Okayama, we traveled to Kyoto and met up with John & Sierra. We also got to see Tom and Mac! In Kyoto, Harry and I said a tearful but hopeful goodbye knowing we wouldn’t see each other again until he had his green card. Then I traveled to Tokyo and stayed with our friend Ray, met up with old friends, and had a ton of fun sightseeing and enjoying the country I use to call home.

By mid-June, I was back in America, united with my family! Harry had his green card interview in Guangzhou which he passed with flying colors. We knew we would be reunited again soon.

 

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July

After a few weeks readjusting to life in America, it was time to get to work on making a home for us here. I found us an apartment in Austin and started my search for a job. I was having a lot of trouble finding work but I kept myself occupied catching up on American films I’d missed and by hanging out with my niece and nephew.

 

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August

August was a huge month because Harry arrived in America!!! I had so much fun introducing him to all my favorite Texas/American things like P.Terry’s and Whataburger. Right after his arrival, the hurricane hit Texas. Austin hardly received any damage but it was crazy to see the mob mentality in action as stores everywhere started to run out of water, gas, and bread.

Other highlights were visiting the Magnolia Market in Waco and seeing Joe & Jen.

 

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September

By September, I hadn’t found a solid gig so I started working three part-time jobs. I was teaching film to elementary school students through Austin Film Society. I was teaching students at a daycare. And  I was making mini-documentaries for an upcoming website aimed at inspiring young adults.

Harry and I took our first trip in America! We went to Santa Cruz to celebrate Kay & Austin’s wedding. Then we drove down the smokey coast and hung out in LA for a few days.

My birthday is September 16 and in 2017 I turned the big 3-0. I had a nice celebration with my family and Harry eating pizza and cake in countryside.

Other highlights were volunteering at Fantastic Fest. I had so much fun despite the controversy surrounding this year’s festival. I hope I can volunteer again next year.

 

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October

In October, Harry and I traveled up to Dallas to go to the Texas State Fair with our friends Mike & Kelly. Unbeknownst to us, we picked the busiest weekend to go. I had no idea there was a rivalry between UT and OU.

I also got to see my friend Nick when he came into town. He edited the film Coming to My Senses which screened at the Austin Film Fest. The film is about Aaron Baker, a man who spent 15 years fighting for his ability to walk after a terrible motocross accident. I had the privilege of meeting Aaron and his wife who are every bit as lovely and inspiring as they are on film.

Other highlights were shooting another mini-doc and helping Harry adjust to life in America.

 

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November

By November, Harry and I began looking for work in LA. I landed a producing job with an animation studio so off we went to sunny California!  spent my first week in LA with Kay & Austin which was a lot of fun. They are simply the best hosts. We came back to Austin for Thanksgiving and to shoot a video I had already scheduled. Then it was right back to LA.

 

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December

December was spent getting readjusted to the LA lifestyle again, making new friends, reuniting with old ones, and working! I spent many late nights at work only to come home to more work (i.e. editing). I spent my weekends editing while Harry studied for the GMAT.  I did have a few moments of fun though. Going to 29 rooms with Lari and friends. Hot Pot night with Brian and his wife. Experiencing my first Escape Room with Debbie and my coworkers at State.Then the 22nd finally came and we flew back to Austin for Christmas with the family.

Two days before New Years, I was in a terrible accident. I walked into a shop and just as I walked in, a car came plowing through the front of the store. Thank baby Jesus I was just to the right of the car or I wouldn’t be here writing this today. I was injured though and spent the last two days of 2017 in the hospital. Not at all how I thought the year would end!

 

 

Even though the accident was terrible and we’re still dealing with the aftermath, it has made me so thankful for the moments I have been given. I plan to take this “second chance” use it as motivation to work harder in 2018.

Thanks for taking the time to reflect back with me. I really recommend taking the time and doing the same. What are your favorite memories of 2017?

♥︎K

 

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Austin Eats

Austin is one of my all time favorite cities. I’ve always said that if I didn’t live in Los Angeles, Austin is where you’d find me. This most recent trip opened my eyes to a city that’s growing rapidly. I think the word has gotten out that Austin is cool and people from all over the country are flocking there.

I see more and more similarities to Los Angeles each time I go. While I am not looking forward to the day Austin has the same level of traffic as LA, I do love all the delicious foods that are popping up around town. Here are some of my favorite finds.

Buddha’s Brew Kombucha

Price: $4 per 16 oz. bottle; $2.50 for refill

Where to get it: Barton Creek farmers market (if you’re in Austin) & select Whole Foods locations

Okay unless you’re already a health foods person, kombucha can be a little weird. It’s made from a fermented colony of bacteria and yeast (what?) and it’s got some floaty stuff at the bottom that looks like something a 2 year old backwashed into a jar. BUT Buddha’s Brew kombucha is something delicious.

It gets as hot as you know where by 9am during the summer in Texas and this stuff was a refreshing god send. People were queueing up to refill their jars with the various flavors that had on tap at the market. If you’re a newbie like me you can also purchase a bottle. I suggest getting at least two because you’re gonna finish one while you’re AT the farmers market and you’re gonna want another one later.

If you want to learn more about these local Austin brewers and all their delicious flavors, you can check out their site here.

Spicy Carrot Relish

Price: $10 for an 8 oz jar

Where to get it: Barton Creek farmers market (if you’re in Austin) or order online from their site

This spicy carrot relish from Moru Foods is addicting and you can put it on just about everything. We put a tablespoon in plain hummus and a bowl of greek yogurt and both transformed into a delicious dip. Take some with a bag of tortilla chips to your next party or stay home and eat it all be yourself. No judgement.

Freedmen’s Brisket Sandwich

Price: $10 lunch special

Where to Get It: 2402 San Gabriel St, Austin, TX

Freedmen’s is located in a beautiful historic building near UT’s campus. Here you can get your BBQ fix along with a number of craft cocktails. No trip to Austin is complete without eating some BBQ so I just have to do a quick shout out to my brisket sandwich. And thanks to the waitstaff for sending over a banana pudding parfait as an early birthday treat.

 

Catch y’all later.

 

K♥LA

(& TX)

Coming Back

Hello blog. Sorry I’ve been gone so long. The last month brought a lot of changes. From finding out my trip to Japan with my best friend is now going to be my first solo expedition abroad, to having work go on a 2 week project hiatus, to losing my grandpa and coming back to Texas, it’s been a little bumpy lately. My motivation to blog was one of the first things to go which is a shame because there’s something really relaxing about sending your thoughts out into the world.

I’m nearing the end of my 3rd week sans-work and I’m already getting cabin fever. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family but I also need to be working on something to feel complete. Plus I am in desperate need of a distraction from the ridiculous number of mosquito bites I’ve gotten since coming to Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas. Including the mosquitos.

So to get things rolling, here are some things that have kept me smiling throughout this roller coaster month.

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What I’m reading: Hector and the Search for Happiness

I’ll admit it…the only reason I picked up this book is because I saw the movie trailer first (I love Simon Pegg). This is a great little book about a psychiatrist who, to better help his patients, goes on a journey to find out what makes people happy. As he travels along, he writes down his discoveries in a list of lessons. Such as…

1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness

2: Happiness often comes when least expected

It’s a great airplane read & has sparked me to starting writing my own “lessons on happiness”.

 What I’m buying: Shoes

My birthday is around the corner and one of my goals for 27 is to look more put together. I am not a fashionista by any means. If you want advice on clothes I can give you a list of other blogs you should check out. I am never going to be at their level but that’s ok! They’ve inspired me to revamp my look because it’s true, I feel more confident throughout the day when I know I look great. Besides, 27 is far enough into adulthood that I should probably get rid of my sneakers with the holes in them.

What I’m watching: Trot Lovers

I just finished watching another rom-com k-drama. This time we’ve got a story about a girl who wants to become a successful trot singer, an old-fashioned Korean music genre. It’s got all my favorite cheesy korean rom-com plot elements: the awkward ‘girl falls down and is caught by boy’ moment, the love triangle, the ‘let me save you from that falling object’ moment, the awkward hand touch… I love it all.

What I’m eating: Queso

Where do I possible begin to describe queso? It’s life changing. It’s delicious. It’s a reason to live in Texas. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been  making my rounds to different local eats to try their queso and make myself an unofficial connoisseur. More on this later.

Man…I love eating. It’s one of my top #3 favorite parts about traveling. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

KLA

(& TX)

Renegade Craft Fair

This past weekend I had the chance to go to the Renegade Craft Fair. The location was moved this year to one of my favorite places in the city, Grand Park.

We had a great time looking at all the artisan crafts, learning about their techniques, and getting inspired. There were booths with jewelry, hair accessories, chocolates, jams, furniture, prints, handmade clothing, photography, ceramics, baby toys, blankets, bags, and so much more.

There were so many booths we had to take a break for lunch at Belcampo in Grand Central Market where we refueled with delicious hamburgers.

I walked away with a turkish towel from The Folding Room ($30), gold heart stud earrings ($5), a soy candle made in downtown LA by P.F. Candle Co. ($11), and a coral headband from The Perfect Hair Ties ($16).  I’m really in love with all my purchases, especially this towel. I read about turkish towels on a lot of travel blogs and wanted to get one for our trip to Japan this fall. I love how small it is in my swim bag & how quickly it dries. I hung it up when I came back from the pool and it was dry in under 2 hours!

Even though I spent more than I meant to, it’s nice to support the local artists and many gave us discounts for shopping at the fair. Please check out their stores from the links above & support. Renegade will be back in LA December 14th & 15th.

 

 

K♥LA

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

Recently I visited Porto’s, a famous bakery located in Burbank. They have so many insanely delicious pastries and desserts for very inexpensive prices.

There’s always a line but it moves very quickly. I actually needed that time to stare at all the beautiful desserts and pick what I wanted. It can be overwhelming to pick, especially for a first-timer, so I recommend sticking with their classics: the guava and cheese pastry ($.75), the cheese roll ($.70), and a few potato balls ($.90/ea).

Who’s Cookin’: Porto’s Bakery & Cafe
Where: 315 N Brand Blvd (Burbank)
What I Ate: This time around I got a cheese roll ($.75) and a spinach feta croissant($1.55) which I ate before I could take a picture of it (first world problems).

 

 

K♥LA

Listen To This

In honor of their free show tonight in Santa Monica for the Twilight Concert Series, I wanted to share a song with you from the band PAPA. These guys rocked my face off back in December along with Wardell & Moses Sumney at the El Rey.

If you guys are looking for something to do tonight, head out to the Santa Monica pier at sun down and catch PAPA along with LA natives, Cayucas.

 

K♥LA

Animation Wednesdays

Every day that I get older, I find myself turning more and more into my father. He’s there when I stubbornly want to fix things myself instead of paying someone to do it. He’s there in my desire to own every instrument even if I can’t play them (yet). He’s mostly there in my bad jokes that no one laughs at but me. If I had to turn in to someone though… I’m glad it’s him.

This one is for our fathers and all the gifts they’ve given us.

If you liked this, check out Benjamin Scheuer’s other short “The Lion”.

 

K♥LA