Happy Thanksgiving

I started the day feeling pretty sad. I always feel sad when I see my grandma in the nursing home. Not because its not a great environment filled with helpful and compassionate staff – because it is – but because she has to be there and there’s not much I can do about that.

She is such a champ, though.

The concept of Thanksgiving is a bit of a challenge for me. I feel overwhelmed when I try to be thankful for everything in my life all in one day. Instead, I try to be thankful everyday. This helps a lot. πŸ™‚

‘Tis the Season

Christmas has never been a “magical” time for me. I loathe snow and anything snow-related, like ice-skating and snow boarding. I’ve never felt that is was a particularly romantic time, either. I don’t have much “Christmas spirit” for Christmas shopping, watching reenactments of the nativity scene, and doing charity work.

I guess I feel this way because I’ve always struggled with the “true meaning” of Christmas. As in, what does Christmas mean to me as a Christian? How do I celebrate Christ’s birth and His life? Somehow, I often find myself feeling guilty during this time; I haven’t done enough charity work or I didn’t buy enough presents. I never feel like I do or give enough. These feelings are, of course, self-imposed.

I remember discussing Christmas with some friends a few years ago. One friend, when prompted about the meaning of Christmas, said, “Presents.” Of course, this led to an argument, during which I sat back, amused. I don’t disagree with what she said. For some people, Christmas is literally just a time to give and receive presents and I don’t think that’s a horrible thing. Christmas-time has become a social custom, a time when people “celebrate” with parties and presents.

Back in my shopaholic days, and even now, I used to go overboard on Christmas. This year, I’m making an effort to reduce my personal level of materialism. Sure, I’ll still give and receive presents, but just not as much. My sisters and their significant others started a tradition last year of drawing names in a gift exchange instead of buying presents for everyone. For us, this is better for the conscience and easier on the wallet, which helps πŸ™‚ We use Elfster to set it up.

At 11 people, our gift list is by no means short. We’ve already begun to chip away at some of it.

  1. Gift exchange – family (2)
  2. Gift exchange – fellowship
  3. My parents
  4. ST’s parents
  5. ST’s little sister
  6. ST’s nieces
  7. My grandmother
  8. ST’s grandparents
  9. ST’s baby cousin
  10. Our god daughter
  11. My nephew

To get a head start on the madness, I’ve been trolling my favorite shopping websites, Ben’s Bargains (for tech-related gifts) and Brad’s Deals (for everything else). I’ve also tried to purchase from websites that offer cash back via Ebates (referral). This requires a degree of savviness. I found ST’s present on Amazon but since they don’t offer cash back, I had to search using Ebates to find the same item at the same or lower price. 3% cash back might not be much for a small order but it really makes a difference when the item costs hundreds of dollars. Something I noticed is that while Amazon is convenient (especially if you have a Prime membership), it does not always offer the lowest price. They also charge sales tax, which is a total bummer. I purchased the same item for a lower price, with cash back, no sales tax, and free shipping through Buy.com, saving a nice chunk of change.

Ebates is also known to double up or more on points. I was just about to order a present for my nephew with a 20% off coupon from Piperlime but I hesitated when I saw that the cash back was only 2%. Cash back for Piperlime, Gap, and Old Navy is often 10%. 10%! Since Piperlime has free 3-5 day shipping, I can l wait on this purchase.

For the kids’ gifts, I ordered toys through Target since I got their credit card, which gives me 5% off every purchase and free shipping. Thanks for tip, Winn!

To be honest, I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents since the beginning of October – insane, I know. But you have to have a game plan to stay on top of things. And I think it helps me to reflect on my past spending habits and attitude.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Here’s to many more.

Long Day

It’s stress time. For some reason, anything that comes up will come up during this time of the year. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

After work today, I needed retail therapy. I grabbed the three pairs of pants that I couldn’t wear from the Housing Works Buy the Bag sale (two pairs of trousers and mom jeans) and headed over to Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope. The reviews on Yelp are mixed but I figured what the heck.

They wouldn’t take my clothes – I don’t think they were fashionable enough for them. I sort of agree, I guess. They gave me the option of donating the clothes to charity through them so I did it. There’s no sense in keeping clothes that I won’t ever wear. Clutter makes me sad 😦

I browsed the store for 15 minutes. It’s large and clean. They have some pretty cute accessories organized into different parts of the store. There were two rings that were interesting but they were really overpriced – $10-15 for pieces of poor quality. I’ve seen better stuff at Forever 21. That seems to be the theme at Beacon’s Closet though – overpriced items. I saw a Forever 21 skirt priced at $10. Say what…? 😯 That’s probably higher than the original, new-with-tags price. Big, flashing neon “Rip-Off!” sign.

In terms of clothing, I didn’t see anything interesting though the store was moderately full of customers snapping up stuff. Most of the stuff was the same as what I’d seen at the Buy the Bag sale. There was no way I could pay $10-24 per item when I got 19 for $25.

That’s right… I went from shopaholic to frugalista. Just kidding – I shouldn’t give myself so much credit. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, their shoe selection was pretty decent. They have a wide range of flats, peep toes, platforms, and boots. There were several cute pairs. I picked up a pair of Cole Haan black patent leather mini wedges but decided to put them down in the end. They were $17 and in very good condition but I wasn’t crazy for them.

They looked like this, except a more dated – rounded toe and shorter wedge. I’m having a bit of buyer’s remorse for not buying them for a fraction of the retail price but I’m not sure thifted shoes are something I’m ready for.

I’ve been looking for mini wedges for a while now… πŸ˜• Some people recommend spraying diluted bleach into a thrifted shoe and resoling it. I need to do more research.

I definitely won’t go out of my way to shop at Beacon’s Closet. If I’m ever in the neighborhood, I’ll pop in but it’s really not worth a special trip.

Anyway, after I walked out empty-handed and I went across the street to Key Food. I got some chicken and came home to cook dinner for my luvah (ST, if you were confused). Baby sister Mel joined us just as dinner was ready (her timing is always impeccable).

Chicken Parmesan

You’ll need:

  • Chicken cutlets
  • Egg wash – one egg + water, whisked
  • Italian bread crumbs – I add sea salt to it because ST is a salt fiend
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a frying pan on low. Slice each cutlet in half. Then, pound each cutlet as flat as it can get. Dip the chicken into the egg wash and them dredge in bread crumbs. Fry the cutlets 5 minutes on each side on low heat. After browning each side, cover the pan for 3-4 minutes to keep the chicken juicy. This is ST’s trick – works every time.

Serve over pasta or in a sandwich.

Then we turned on Gremlins – one of my favorite movies. I love Gizmo and Phoebe Cates is fabulous. I’ve always thought she was and is so gorgeous.

Frantically trying to keep up with Gremlin drink orders. πŸ˜€

Image source

Our favorite line is “Gizmo… Kaka!”

It reminds me of Kaitlyn saying “Gah gah!”

I guess my day wasn’t so bad after all.

The end. πŸ™‚

Family Love

It’s really adorable how well Mel gets along with ST.

I texted Mel using ST’s phone because I was simply too lazy to get mine. Because I’m nosy, I scrolled up to see their past texts. Lo and behold, I saw the weirdest yet cutest conversation ever.

They text each other in emoticons. Somehow this stuff is supposed to mean something…? I guess they get each other.

These made me LOL for a good 5 minutes. I especially enjoyed the punches and “ur poo.”

Rodent Woes Continued

So today we went to look at apartments. It was a big fat FAIL. We saw 6 apartments and each one was worse than the last. They were all too small, dirty, and dingy. Sad – I’d rather live with the mice.

Mel and Tommy waited for us in the car, reading Chinese trash mags and pretending they were Japanese tourists:

We spoke with our landlord and explained the situation and our concerns. She said that even in her newly renovated home, there were roaches and mice. She even pulled out mouse traps and told us a disgusting story about a mouse jumping out of her trash can! Can you imagine?!

Our friends and family were also very encouraging. So I manned up set out to clean and booby trap every corner and crevice of our apartment. We bought 10 packs of mouse traps – that’s 40 traps! ST grabbed another can of Great Stuff yellow expanding foam and set to filling every crack in the apartment. I even sprayed bleach on the base boards – someone said that would help. I’m willing to try anything at this point.

In the end, we still had a good time.

For now, it’s a waiting game. Let’s see if all the crack-filling and cleaning made a difference.

$30 Date

The other day I chanced upon my favorite type of Groupon – movie tickets! This one was pretty sweet – $9 for two movie tickets + popcorn. Woohoo! I bought 3 since they’re only good until November and ST and I aren’t huge movie goers.

Anyway, we decided to go on a date while the weather was still relatively pleasant. We decided on Contagion because we both like movies that feature mass hysteria, infectious diseases, and the potential for zombie appearances. Alas, that last bit didn’t make it into the movie, but it was still pretty good.

It was perfect boot weather πŸ™‚

While we were lounging around, ST clicked over to Brooklyn News 12 and heard about a Greek Culture Festival in nearby Bay Ridge. So we decided to stop by before the movie to grab some dinner. I think we’re going to watch this channel more often on the weekends to scope out fun things to do.

It was kind of like Staten Island, but Greek instead of Italian. Also classier since they had guys dressed up like Spartans.

The part with the rides was literally two blocks long so it was pretty boring. However, there was this hilarious clown in a cage egging people on.

We made a beeline for the food court – pork souvlaki sandwich for me, huge platter of grilled meat for ST. I figured the pork would be awesome since it was roasting on a spit before my eyes:

It wasn’t. The pork was tough and there were some pieces I couldn’t even finish. Boo…Β  two dinners + drinks set us back $26.

When we got to the theater, we didn’t have a problem getting our two tickets and popcorns. ST bought a medium soda for $3.75 so that puts this date at about $30. Not bad for dinner and a movie, even if the dinner was meh. All in all a fun date πŸ˜€

The Best

I hung out with your tΓ­as after work today. When I got home, I was pooped.

I couldn’t do anymore than plop myself in front of Futurama (“Neutopia,” one of my favorites) and painted my nails Kate Spade-inspired gold sparkle (borrowed from tΓ­a Wendy).

I also picked out some polishes to give to a friend who’s training to be a nail technician. There was a time when I’d pop into CVS and waltz out with $40 worth of nail polish. I was a psycho.

ST was dutifully manning the kitchen, churning out some grilled pork chops. He is the best. No matter how long or hard my day is, he makes it all better.

He takes out the trash, tells me I’m beautiful, cooks, cleans – he is the total package πŸ™‚

Happy Birthday, Kimbee!

26 years ago today, a tiny, inexplicably tan baby with an afro was born. That baby was your tΓ­a Kim.

She had one request for her birthday: sushi.

So we went to lunch at Sapporo in Bay Ridge. It was cute and casual and the food was awesome! Thanks, Yelp! The sushi was the best I’ve had in Brooklyn so far – fresh and delicious.

They are all smiles despite Tommy having a sinus infection 😦

The rolls were in the shape of hearts. Awww.

ST had udon with shrimp tempura and an egg. He loved eating this in Hawaii.

I had ramen with chicken. Yum! I love ramen!

We had intended to eat light because your great-grandma’s birthday dinner was tonight and we’d be eating early – at 5:30 or so. Once we got started, we couldn’t stop – we pigged out on mochi πŸ˜€ Green tea for Mel, black sesame for Wendy, and strawberry for me (my fav!).

Kim ate two heaping scoops of green tea ice cream. As you can see, she was really excited. Seriously, she was – she just has a dorky face πŸ˜€

After that, we went our separate ways and Wendy and I went to Century 21 since it was in the neighborhood. Parking in Bay Ridge is ridiculous – it took us at least 30 minutes! We settled on parking in the Century 21 garage, only to find out that you need a minimum purchase of $50 for free parking. Luckily, a sweet woman offered to scan her receipt for us since her husband’s purchase was above $50 and she didn’t need hers.

I had contemplated buying a pair of Kensie Kansas flats in red but decided set them down after holding them for 15 minutes. I think I just need to hold them for a bit πŸ˜›

Instead, I left with a really cute $13 Betsey Johnson skinny belt. I never wear belts. I simply don’t know how. I think I’m slowly easing into accessorizing and well, being stylish… sort of. I have a long way to go.

Anyway, by the time I got back to our apartment, we were running 20 minutes late for your great-grandma’s birthday dinner. TΓ­a Mel quickly snapped this picture of my outfit…

Side note: Ultimately, I always find what I need in my closet. My shoes were purchased years and years ago from eBay and today was the first time I wore them. I still have shoes that have never been worn – I’m so glad I didn’t buy those flats! Also, I’m really not photogenic 😦

Unfortunately, we were still too full from lunch to fully enjoy dinner. We tried our best though.

Isn’t my grandma the cutest? She raised me for a few years when your grandparents were busy working and getting settled on the Lower East Side. We used to make vienna sausage sandwiches and dumplings together. Your great-grandpa would take me to mah jong parlors in Chinatown where the men drank, smoked, and played mah jong. Your great-grandma was a master at making clothes – I was never without a homemade sweater and blankets – you’ll inherit all of those πŸ™‚

Your grandparents looked really spiffy.

Aunt Shirley made lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting – decadent! I ate two 😦 Her cupcakes are to. die. for. Perhaps I will learn her secrets and bake like that one day.

I don’t remember the last time my stomach was so full. That is something to be thankful for.

Happy birthday grandma, tΓ­a Kim, Aunt Rebecca, and Uncle Jonathan. May this year be filled with more blessings, grace, andΒ  thankfulness than the last.

Labor Day

Last Monday, we went to my uncle’s relatively new home for a house-warming/Labor Day party.

Kaitlyn is at such an adorable age right now when she’s learning new words and saying the cutest things. This party was all about her. And karaoke. Chinese people love their karaoke.

Doritos! She just shoves them into her mouth whole. Hardcore.

Singing a duet with ST.

Chasing Nicky on the deck. She tries so hard to keep up with him. Then she says “uncle” in Chinese at the end.

23 years old and still my baby sister. Baby sisters are pretty cool.

A duet performed by yours truly. We’re embarrassing. Your tΓ­as will teach you how to be resilient.

Later that night, we had a mini going-away party for your tΓ­a Winnie, who drove back to Seattle the next day 😦 I’m going to miss this face:

Side note: On a random night at Target, she found the awesome imitation Frye real-leather boots for $35! Perfect color and size! She gave me the receipt so I can try to get a price adjustment on my boots. I doubt I can since they’re still $70 on the website. They’re a bargain at $70; for $35, that’s straight up robbery. You did me one better Winn. I applaud you.

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