Flowers are in bloom and plants are growing!

I grew the aeonium and lavender from cuttings last year. I planted them, sort of noncommittally, in the galvanized steel troughs where I had unsuccessfully tried to grow Solanum jasminoides vines, because the sight of the empty planters was making me depressed. I guess my simple act of sadness-avoidance more than paid off!
aeonium & lavender that i grew from cuttings

The lavender hasn't really flowered, but I'm hoping that's because it's still a baby.
one of two lavender flowers, haha

On the other hand, the bower vine in the front patio continues to flower and has produced a number of seed pods which I've been collecting. (I'm not sure yet where to sow them!)
bower vine

I pruned back my herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano). They didn't look too good a couple of months ago, and I thought I would have to replace them, but they've sprouted new leaves and look like they're going to be okay. At some point this season, I really need to transplant them into bigger pots.

Even the echeveria has bloomed!
flowering echeveria

In our courtyard, the bougainvilleas have never looked better in pink and white and purple, and the sweet broom that I recently planted complements in bright yellow.
bougainvillea sweet broom + bougainvillea

Last week, Imo and I walked around South Pas's little downtown area. We walked past Bill's raised beds along El Centro and I couldn't help but admire his veggies: cabbages, lacinato & red kale, carrots, a variety of lettuces. Urban farming is all sorts of awesome.
urban farming cabbages carrotskale kaleslettuces at fiore

Around town, more lavender, candy-colored lantana flowers, plum blossoms!
lavender candy-colored lantana walking down el centro plum tree in bloom


organizing is my favorite hobby.

My most recent home organization project was to sort our cleaning + bath + beauty supplies. This is worth reporting because the improvement was dramatic. Haha! The truth is, for years I tried to find ways to deal with the assortment of things that cluttered our bathroom and kitchen under-sink/counter cabinets, but haven't had much success. These were the areas where all things hoarded (hotel toiletries, bulk Costco products, scented candles received as gifts), toxic (insecticides, clog removers), gross (squeeze bottle toilet bowl cleaners, sink drain snakes), ugly (used synthetic sponges and brushes, old towels), forgotten (half-consumed bottles of shampoo, expired sunscreens and insect repellant sprays) pretty much ended up. I dreaded each time I had to open those cabinets. But a few weeks ago, I opened them and thought fuck it and went to work. (This is also why I have no "before" photos.)

This project was something I had to do in stages, though getting rid of stuff (to throw or give away) was already half the battle. I didn't need majority of the things in those cabinets, to tell you the truth, especially since I had switched to natural multi-purpose products like Castile soap, vinegar and baking soda. Then I organized what was left in baskets, trays, glass jars, etc. that I had saved and repurposed (the spray bottles I bought on Amazon). I also replaced plastic cleaning tools with wood and metal ones. I admit that I felt obsessive and ridiculous because I almost jumped with excitement when I found an enameled milk pan at HomeGoods that I could use as a tabo replacement. Anyway, the idea is to have only what is useful and beautiful and durable. The hope is to end up buying less and wasting less (at least from this point on).

bathroom linens bath supplies candles etc. cleaning supplies hygiene products under the kitchen sink makeup drawer enamel tabo!

As you can see, I've gone off the Remodelista deep end. I regret nothing.


annie jr.

Here are some photos, long overdue, of our school district's 5th grade musical that Yumi was a part of. So much work went into this production, I still get exhausted just thinking about it, and all I did was drive carpools and supervise some rehearsals and take pictures -- minimal work compared to what I imagine everyone else from SPEF and Upstage and all the other parent volunteers had to do! Anyway, I think it's wonderful when the community comes together to provide such a great experience to our kids. The reward was these amazing performances! (Stuck Song Syndrome notwithstanding. It's happening again right now. Lol.)

Yumi played Grace Farrell, "private secretary to Oliver Warbucks, the billionaire." She had solos in two musical numbers, "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" and "NYC," and was a total pro. She loved being on stage and wishes she got to do more than two shows!

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(Two years ago, Asha did The Lion King Jr. Also amazing! Here's a throwback.)


housekeeping, etc.

I have been seriously spring cleaning since January. I cleaned out and organized the pantry, kitchen cabinets and drawers, the refrigerator (including finally getting Imo to switch its doors to open on the left side, the optimal configuration for our kitchen), the bathroom cabinets, the girls' and my closets. I scrubbed the bathtub to a white I've never before achieved since we moved here; I got rid of the scale around the bathroom faucets and polished the chrome. I have switched to a more "natural" cleaning regimen, using vinegar and baking soda, mainly because of my success in the bathroom. I am also implementing the use of Sal Suds (as soon as I use up our current jug of laundry detergent), vinegar, essential oils, and wool dryer balls in the laundry. I've switched the entire family to Castile soap for bathing. In this process, I was able to rid our small apartment of a lot of stuff: dinnerware and kitchen gadgets that I hardly use, plastic containers and utensils, old jars/packs of food I've stashed in the back of the fridge and pantry, harsh chemical cleaners, bottles of unnecessary bath products, clothes and shoes that we no longer wear. Although I continue to struggle with consumerism, and feelings of profound guilt and complicity over my wastefulness, household maintenance has somehow become easier, lighter -- for instance, doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom is no longer as dreadful (because I love my homemade cleaning solutions and my wooden brushes, haha!), and it's now easier to use up what I have in the fridge (because I CAN SEE THEM ALL). And even though reading the news still leads me to despair, I haven't felt truly depressed in a while. Even when I turned another year older. Maybe it's these distractions (bursts of productivity? renewed sense of purpose? restored order?) that have allowed me to be in a slightly better place, mental health-wise, than I was the same time last year.

The first quarter of 2018 was so full in a good way, and not just of things housekeeping-related. Yumi was in the 5th grade musical, it was Annie Jr. this year (she played Grace Farrell), and I drove a lot of carpools and volunteered a few hours to supervise at rehearsals. We baked A LOT of cookies for her Power of One project and sold them with the help of two friends and their moms outside the auditorium after performances. Asha and Yumi auditioned for a small children's theater production of Into the Woods and made it in the cast: Asha got the role of Jack's mother, Yumi got Rapunzel. Nacho did Destination Imagination again this year and we attended the regional and state tournaments; his team placed second in State and qualified for Globals. We saw some really good shows -- notably, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, a musical about Marc Chagall and his wife, which had me sobbing in the theater because it was so beautiful, and Khruangbin, who play a fusion of Thai funk and psychedelic- and retro-surf rock and were trippy and completely awesome at the Lodge Room in Highland Park. I hosted a few family brunches and dinners, including one for my birthday (brunch), which was nice -- I made Ottolenghi's asparagus mimosa (it was peak asparagus season!) and everyone brought other delicious food and we drank bellinis. We spent Easter Sunday with Chingbee, who was in town for a conference at UCLA, and whom I had not met in person before then, but for whom I felt an instant affinity. (Our conversations made me think about my road-not-traveled -- that is, the academe, maybe even a literary life -- which is something that comes to mind a lot, actually, and which, I've found, hurts less to reflect upon the farther away it drifts from me. Or maybe I have just gotten better at resignation. Haha.) I still swim at the Y twice a week, and Imo and I went to a pilates class together (which we plan to keep going to, even though pilates is not my favorite, i.e. self-inflicted punishment).

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say, after the above litany of domestic minutiae (sorry), is that I am okay. And that's a good thing. I hope I don't jinx it.

pantry, a month later


time traveling part 3

We had a 1980's-prom-themed party for NYE. Imo and I went as Mr. and Mrs. Quibilan, teacher chaperones. LOL.


There were disco lights and a balloon arch (made by Irving and Topher) and instant film photos and lots of 80s pop music (care of Mr. Quibilan who moonlights as a DJ hahaha) and dancing and drinks and sparklers.

nye 80s prom party nye 80s prom party The titos are always game! nye 80s prom party nye 80s prom party 64 57 50 25 20 51 nye 80s prom party nye 80s prom party
Meet Irving's new girlfriend, Barb.

Pamily family. (Not complete. Nacho, among others, was at a friend's party.)

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Happy new year from That's Entertainment Monday group. Lol.

*Past time travels can be found here and here.