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.)

nye 80s prom party nye 80s prom party nye 80s prom party 97
Happy new year from That's Entertainment Monday group. Lol.

*Past time travels can be found here and here.


anniversary road trip

Imo and I managed to go on a little getaway in the middle of the craziness of late December. It was just an overnight trip, but we were able to pack a lot of our favorite things to do in it. The day after Christmas, we left LA before noon and were in Santa Barbara county before 2 p.m. We stopped for lunch in Los Olivos: quaint, bougie, filled with wine tasting rooms and white people. Maybe if we stayed longer we would've spotted other brown people there, but it was just weird, so we were like, let's get out of here. Lol.

los olivos olive tree fountain our shoes + red leaves fall! in winter! walking around los olivos los olivos

So we headed off to Sunstone Vineyards in Santa Ynez. We did the tasting, bought a bottle of port and their Soleil Blanc, wandered the grounds, took photos with my camera's self-timer, and left my wallet behind in the process. (I was using it to prop up my camera and in my wine-induced happiness, forgot it on one of the outdoor tables. We were already headed into downtown Solvang when I realized my wallet was gone and we had to turn back. I was getting nervous because the winery was closing in 30 minutes. Luckily, I found my wallet right where I had left it!)

sunstone winery wine tasting s i&s leaving sunstone without my wallet

It was starting to get dark when we finally checked in at The Landsby in Solvang. This whole trip was planned around The Landsby, to tell you the truth. Haha. Ever since we discovered it last year, I've dreamed of spending a night there and dining at Mad & Vin again. Anyway, it was still early for dinner, so Imo and I walked around downtown Solvang, which really comes alive this time of year; there were so many tourists -- many people of color, I am happy to report! We stopped at the Book Loft, where we always go whenever we're in town.

solvang the landsby solvang imo, bookshop bookshop window

We walked back to the hotel for happy hour and had a couple of drinks and snacked on ceviche and chips, and pita with olives and romesco. SO GOOD. Our dinner reservation wasn't till 8 p.m., so we still managed a short walk outside after drinks and went back to our room to freshen up. At Mad & Vin for dinner, Imo had the steak, and I had the seafood hot pot, and more wine! The food was excellent, but I was sad that they no longer had the lamb porterhouse and the jidori chicken on their menu. We shared a chocolate pot de creme for dessert. We were stuffed! Later that evening, Imo and I sat in front of one of the outdoor fire bowls in the hotel courtyard (this was on my list of things to do so we literally waited around until one of them freed up -- those fire bowls were pretty popular!) and Imo fell asleep on me. Nothing says seventeen years of married bliss better than having your husband fall asleep on you on a date, I guess. Lol!

landsby lobby imo & ceviche 2nd round of drinks + pita landsby lobby imo, landsby lobby s&i, firebowl

The next day, we had breakfast at Mad & Vin (yay!): coffees, steak & eggs, french toast & berries & chicken sausage. We checked out of The Landsby at 11 a.m. then drove to Santa Barbara to a record shop called the Warbler, bought some old records, then wandered into the Santa Barbara Historical Museum across the street. The highlight of that museum visit was the ghosts that appeared in the mirrors in one of the exhibits! (We are easily amused.)

warbler me we saw ghosts i&s, courtyard fountain
(I was an expert at setting up my camera timer at this point and very conscientious about my wallet. Haha.)

We then drove ten minutes to Butterfly Beach, where, even though it was December, the weather was beautiful and mild, and a bunch of locals were sunning and surfing. Imo and I spotted dolphins while we were walking along the shore.

butterfly beach dolphins!

Our last stop before driving back to LA was Summerland, where Imo got pour-over coffee and I a "Ray of Sunshine" (turmeric spiced milk) with espresso at Red Kettle Coffee, and we split an Inferno burger (delicious!) and fries from Tinker's next door.

tinker's "inferno" burger & fries red kettle coffee centerpiece summerland

It was a really short trip, and I had to go straight to a photoshoot after we got home at 6 p.m., but we had a really nice time. Now that our kids are older, maybe an anniversary getaway is something we can keep doing every year.