Tag Archives: family

Travel List for 2015

Ever since vacationing at Catalina Island and visiting my best friend in Nebraska, I’ve been on a “travel kick.” I want to go everywhere. I keep making all these lists and plans that I’m slowly driving myself crazy. I’ve finally narrowed it down to three places. One of them is for sure and the other two are maybes. I couldn’t decided which one I want to go to more so I added both.

#1: Lake Powell, AZ – This made the list again because my sister said she wants to go. I think she’s still bummed we went to Catalina but it was fun. They have a great website for planning the trip. The only down side was I couldn’t find much about food and if anything, I always go for the food. We’re planning on taking a boat tour along with kayaking and all kinds of water stuff. If we go, we will most likely drive there. We’re not really looking forward to the drive. It’s approximately 8 hours from where we are and well…we could be in San Francisco in 8 hours. I am excited about going because it means I can check Arizona off my visit 50 states list.
 photo lake-powell1_zps187fd06d.jpg
#2: Morro Bay, CA – This was originally no where on the list. However, my sister went on a trip with friends and made it sound so amazing now I want to go! She was telling me about the beach sand. I know it’s strange but we typically judge a beach by the sand and cleanliness. She said the beach up there surpasses Laguna Beach which made me really curious. Laguna is my #1 down here so I knew I had to put it on the list. She kept saying soft beach sand and I was convinced. I’ve never stopped here on the way to San Fran but I heard it’s really nice. We’ll either go to Lake Powell or come here. Is it sad to say I pick here instead? 🙂 It’s closer and we’ll be going to the beach! I’m hoping we can rent a house within walking distance of the beach.
 photo morro-bay-marina_zps6811b9be.jpg
#3: Hershey, PA – My best friend and I are travel junkies. Since she moved to Nebraska, I’ve been scheming up ways for us to get together. I went to visit her in Nebraska last September and she came to California in December. However, she might be PCSing to Japan with her hubby at the end of this year. I was planning on visiting her again in Nebraska in the spring but since she might be going to Japan, I thought I’d visit her there instead. So now we’re going to Hershey, PA. Mainly for the chocolate. I’ve been dying to see Chocolate World and Hershey Park. I know, I know, I’m a 5 year old at heart. I’m not going to lie, I love me a good Kit Kat bar. Actually…come to think of it, I’ve never had a bad Kit Kat bar. Anyway, they also have a chocolate spa. We’re completely sold and definitely going after summer. Strangely enough, I heard of Hershey, PA while watching the HBO series Band of Brothers because of Major Winters. I might have to bring an extra suitcase just to fit all my goodies.
 photo user98182_pic3448_1216177850_zps3f96f50f.jpg

And for the honorable mentions that almost made the list..
#1: New Orleans, LA – I love NOLA’s atmosphere. I love oysters…and cajun food. I was drooling when I looked at the food scene. I wasn’t sold on the super expensive hotels. If I were to go I’d at least stay for a week and it costs about a grand just for the hotel stay. Not within my budget.
#2: Washington, DC – This has been on my travel list for a long time. I want to go see all the monuments and soak in the atmosphere of Capitol Hill. However, like NOLA it’s just way too expensive for my budget right now. It would take me at least two weeks minimum to see everything I want to see.
#3: Charleston, SC – My sister likes places that are considered “quaint” and she’s into the bed and breakfast thing. I’m not much for that because I think my taste is a little too luxurious sometimes but I humor her. She wants a bed and breakfast AND a rodeo. Do they have rodeos in Charleston? If so where are they? Help a girl out because she said it’s my job to research so I need to add it to the list. I just want the shrimp and grits.

The list for 2016? You had better believe NOLA will be on there. And in addition to NOLA, Hawaii will be on there and possibly the Cayman Islands and/or Washington, DC. I have two must haves for vacay: one is the beach, two is the food. Everything else is secondary. I’m so excited! Oh and who got hired? This girl! 🙂 I’m truly blessed with all the opportunities that I have been given. Nothing but good vibes today!

**All pictures courtesy of Yahoo! Images.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Advertisements

A Merry Christmas?

Every year around Christmas time my mom’s side of the family all come together to visit my grandfather, great-grandmother, grand aunt, and grand uncle’s grave sites at Rose Hills Memorial Park. There’s a Chinese holiday that’s behind the visit but I can’t translate it into English where it makes sense (I apologize). Every visit we’ve made, I always see funeral processions taking place. I’ve always thought to myself, wow that must really be brutal to have a loved one pass away during this time of the year. This year, I was that person. My uncle’s mother passed away a few days after Thanksgiving from a stroke. I wasn’t super close with her but every time I saw her she was always happy and excited to engage me in conversation. While attending her services today, I noticed two military funerals taking place. It really tore me up inside.

I think today was a test of character for me. During the service for my uncle’s mother, my aunt completely lost it and broke down crying. In my culture, the son always takes care of the mother when the father isn’t present. My uncle got onto the podium to thank everyone for coming to the service and my cousins just sat there while my aunt lost it. I felt really bad because my aunt was crying really hard and leaned on her oldest son for comfort. Every single person in that chapel heard her. I asked my sister what we should do because someone should go up to her row and comfort her. My sister told me, “okay, go. I’ll watch your purse.” So I went. At first I was hesitant but then I told myself I should live up to the standards that I hold others to. My aunt and I have had a lot of rough patches and while growing up we never got along/saw eye to eye. When she realized it was my arm around her and my hand reaching out, she thanked me. It’s safe to say that family always comes first.

This is the third funeral I’ve ever been to and I don’t know what it’s like for other cultures but in my culture we always have a “memorial meal” after the burial. Usually it’s at some sort of Chinese restaurant. Today we went to NBC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA. It’s been a while since all of us have gotten together to eat out but I wish it was under different circumstances. I did take some pictures of the food we ate and the awesome egg tart my mom got me after we left the restaurant.
 photo unnamed6_zpsfeb36462.jpg
In this picture there’s a bowl of rice, a bowl of crab/seafood soup (it’s expensive for we usually only have it for special occasions), a glass of Pepsi, and a plate of honey walnut shrimp and stir fry veggies.
 photo unnamed2_zps515120b2.jpg
This plate has sweet and sour ribs, stir fry fish fillets with bok choy, and salted soy chicken with shrimp chips (usually they have the chips with Peking Duck).
 photo unnamed4_zpsb759c702.jpg
A better picture of my third round of food. The plate was super small or else I would only have one round.
 photo unnamed_zpsc5974c86.jpg
The delicious egg tart from Jim’s Bakery. It’s so so good! Eggy, sweet, and creamy on the inside and flaky on the outside. That’s exactly what an egg tart should taste like.

While today was bittersweet, I hope that I will remember to put family first above all else. I think that was the biggest lesson for me today. Keep your loved ones close and let them know that you love them.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Different Kind of Turkey Day

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter, family, and lots of yummy food. This year was a different kind of Thanksgiving than I’m normally used to. Usually all of my relatives from my mom’s side come and celebrate. Sometimes my dad’s side jumps into the mix as well. Yesterday, it was just the four of us. It was a quiet day but still interesting. I think this year was the only year that I actually cared about setting the table. I know, shame on me. But when you have like 20 people trying to get food at the same time it doesn’t make sense to do it. For those of you who can keep them away until every dish is ready, I commend you. Teach me your secrets. The big sis and I split the cooking duties. My parents slept in and hung out watching the Thanksgiving parade on tv. They also drank WAY too much wine but that’s a story for another time.

Because it was just the four of us, my sister and I wanted to keep it simple. Leave it to my mom to make it crazy. I made the turkey and my sister made the ham. We split the sides consisting of spinach and feta salad, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Oh and lots of alcohol for my parents.
 photo 007_zps86000fdb.png
That’s my turkey. 3 1/2 hours at 350 and voila. Perfection! It was delicious and juicy.
 photo 008_zps53f4c47b.png
Sweet potato casserole. The top layer is a delicious reminder of butter pecan ice cream. One of my favorites 🙂
 photo 011_zpsa43cba12.png
My semi-ready table. The ham took too long so we started eating without it.
 photo 012_zps6074d0da.png
My first helping of everything but ham.
 photo 014_zps136e2d4f.png
Thick slices of delicious and juicy ham! It was so good!!
 photo 006_zps0f2becd0.png
Fluffy mashed potatoes. A Thanksgiving staple at my house. I can have Thanksgiving without a turkey but not without mashed potatoes. Thanks daddy, haha.
 photo 004_zps096ff790.png
The best spinach and feta salad ever!

For once, there was no dessert. There wasn’t any room left in my tummy for it anyway but I didn’t mind. I usually make pumpkin pie year around regardless. So while people camped out and woke up crazy early for Black Friday, I’m chilling at home with my blanket and a cup of hot apple cider. Christmas baking begins tomorrow with blackberry shortbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and white chocolate cranberry pecan cookies. Happy Holidays!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Volunteering VA hospital #9

Bnc6SArCUAA_i8p.jpg large
Have any of you ever found “family” where you least expect it? I expected to meet people who would inspire me beyond my wildest dreams but I didn’t expect to meet people who became my second family. One of the things about volunteering is passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you should probably stop doing it. I go into the hospital and volunteer every week but it’s not really volunteering. I feel as if I’m going to visit family or just have a few good laughs. The veterans that I’ve met here will stay with me for the rest of my life no matter where life takes us. They’re like father figures and always look out for me. They give me advice, they encourage me to pursue my dreams, and they inspire me to be as great as they are.

Sadly, a lot of the vets at the hospital aren’t married and live alone. Most of them have children but they’re all grown up and have moved out. One of the vets that I usually talk to always says I remind him of his daughter. He’s always looking out for me and if someone says something he’ll be the first to get in their face. He always tells me these crazy stories and makes me laugh and I can talk to him about things that I wouldn’t be able to tell my dad. I call him the godfather because he dresses like a gangster, bandana, sunglasses, and all. He brought me avocados and a rose today. His neighbor has a avocado tree so he said he’d bring me some but he didn’t show up a few times. I kept giving him a hard time for it (because that’s how we are) and he went and bought me some. He also bought me a rose and said that it was for putting up with them all the time because a lot of them don’t have family and live alone so they come to the hospital and it’s like a family. He also thanked me for feeding them. I thought it was really nice of him. I was really surprised to be so appreciated. He laughed and said he comes to the hospital because I’m always happy to see him. The rose died a little because it was so hot today.

This particular veteran has had a series of heart problems and heart attacks. He’s due for a super risky operation soon so if you could pray for him and send him your thoughts I would really appreciate it. He’s like my second father and I just wish it was over and done with. I don’t know what I would do if he didn’t make it. I’ll just leave it at that.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Chinese New Year feast

I LOVE Chinese New Years. My mom decided to have our annual feast early this year. Today also happens to be my birthday. I love that my birthday falls on CNY week because my mama always makes good food. She makes good food regardless but sometimes I have to twist her arm for the dishes that I want. She said she’d make me roast pork (siu yuk) for my birthday and she did!!! It’s one of my favorite take-out dishes and I always order it.
 photo 002_zps25d0b9e3.png
This is the roast pork before my dad cut into it.
 photo 008_zpsdb944278.png
Tofu! 🙂 This version is actually dried tofu that you have to soak in water and then cook. It’s a bit time consuming but very delicious.
 photo 009_zps2e2849bf.png
I’m not a fan of this dish but it makes an appearance every year. This dish has water chestnuts, pork, and some scallions. Water chestnuts taste weird. I never liked them.
 photo 005_zps880e3259.png
This dish also makes an appearance every year. It’s vermicelli noodles cooked in soy sauce with dried shrimp and green onions.
 photo 007_zpsd19afde5.png
This is “faat tai.” Basically it’s like a cupcake but it has to have the four flowers.
 photo 004_zpsa25154ac.png
This dish is one of my favorites! I usually never see it unless it’s CNY. It has shiitake mushrooms, veggies, a black vermicelli like ingredient, albalone, dried scallops, and this other ingredient I don’t know the name of. I can say it in Chinese but not in English. I used to refuse to eat the black vermicelli like ingredient just because it reminded me of hair.
 photo 003_zps81d4be5b.png
And last but not least, peas and carrots! Gotta have lots of veggies! 🙂

There was also a chicken but I didn’t upload the picture. The chickens that my parents buy at the butcher shop have the head on and everything so I figured it was a little too much for my blog. Thanks for reading!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

pumpkin carving

This is the first Halloween I’ve actually carved a pumpkin. I never got into it and I always thought it was like rocket science. Over the weekend, my sister and I went to Tahoe Scotty’s Pumpkin Patch. In my stuck up opinion, it’s really not a pumpkin patch but a “pumpkin stand.” I wanted to go to Tanaka Farms in Irvine (where it’s a real pumpkin patch) but the big bro has been busy.
 photo 020_zpsb0297042.png
 photo 026_zpsfe1edaed.png
I super excited to carve the face 🙂 I kept picking stuff that resembled my face lol
 photo 015_zpsf03a8fba.png
I was in love with the small pumpkins. I didn’t even want to carve the one my sister bought me but she insisted.
 photo 018_zps0a94b08c.png
These looked so beat up! 😦
 photo 016_zpsaf356453.png
The middle of the “patch”
 photo 022_zps57d5e87d.png
The two pumpkins we picked out. I begged my sister for a small one and she caved! Woot! 🙂
 photo 024_zps4d45010a.png
Big sis doing the dirty work…haha in my defense, I toasted pumpkin seeds for her afterwards
 photo 025_zpse9f2dd76.png
The face I carved. I was so proud
 photo 029_zps3080c6de.png
It looks awesome! Something about the eyebrows makes me laugh.
 photo 027_zpsebb20927.png
The face my sister carved.
 photo 030_zpsc4ca868d.png
The bigger stencils wouldn’t fit on the small pumpkin so I drew on a face with a sharpie. Again, it resembles my face! 🙂 I usually have that look on my face when I’m talking to people. Thanks for reading!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina