Can you believe it is almost summer?  It doesn't even feel like spring at all here.  Every morning we wake up and are greeted with dark sky and rain.  I guess mother nature is telling me to put down my gardening tools and pick up a book or two.  I know I have been absent from blogging world for awhile.  Tell you the truth, I just didn't know what else to post.  I guess I didn't really started blogging because I love decorating and stuff.  I mean I love looking at pretty pictures in magazines and such but I have never been the type to care much about lamps or curtains or home accessories.  What I love doing are projects that allow me to be creative.  As creatives, those burst of inspirations come and go.  Somewhere along the blogging journey, I felt myself comparing and contrasting and forcing myself to do things just because.  So I took a break...read a lot...got a lot of art pieces...took lots of pictures...and live freely.

When the weather lets me, I find myself spending countless hours mending our 13 garden beds...yes 13!! What was I thinking????


We celebrated birthdays.  We ate lots of cakes.  A new lady in green joined us.  I found this 4 1/2 foot tall antique frame for twenty something dollars and I think she suits it very well.

The girls and I still go for our treasure hunts on weekends.  Sometimes we get lucky and find thing like this gorgeous blue trunk for $10.  We celebrate, by that I mean, I celebrate and they humor me.  We go for our stroll through a book store followed by our favorite Thai lunch.

Chairs move around like musical chairs.

New things pop up randomly...sometimes they are seven foot portrait.

Life, of course, is constantly moving.  Sometimes it is a smooth stream and other time a rough sea.  It has taken me almost four and half years of rediscovering myself to finally find my rhythm..to dance to the beat of my own drum...to be one with my own soul.  May your soul be well.



Books and more books

Hello, friends.
          I know I have been away for so long.  Life here has been wonderful.  It is quiet.  There are lots of reading and just simply living involved.  I really haven't done much projects lately and that is why I haven't blogged much.  I started doing hot yoga four days a week and the girls and I spend a lot times at the library.  Our Aurora just turned five and she is ever fabulous.

She knows her art and artists.  She loves her impressionist artists but last week we started talking about Matisse and Picasso.  Every morning she wants me to teach her about a new artist and quiz her about all the other ones she knows.  We are working on Rembrandt right now.  She is something else.   

I thought I share with you a little project I have been *slowly...very slowly* working on.  This is a wall in Bella's room.  Originally I thought I would leave it white but clearly I can't just leave things alone.  I knew all of my old books hoarding habit would come in handy.  Here is her book covers wall.  I am working on small section at a time because I want to be really picky about the titles of the books.

Bella is hard to impress.  She is my old soul.  

Here is Aurora's room.  She said she needs art in her room and she is right.  We went to Isabella Gardner Museum a month or so ago and she came home with this idea that if her sister is named after a museum then she is going to have her own museum.  She said, "Mommy, I want to name our house, Aurora Phoenix museum, and I need you to get more antiques and make little signs that say, Do not touch.  Everyone has to pay me money to get in."

Spring is almost here, ladies.  You know what that means, I got my gardening hat ready!



Ode to Frida

 My love for Frida Kahlo started like how most of my other passions started...through my grandmother.  I don't remember when or how the love affair began but it did.

I appreciate her strong sense of individuality and her unwavering passion and devotion for everything she loves.

What makes Frida so inspiring to me is the hardships and the heartbreaks that she endured.  I love how she channeled every ounce of her feelings through her art.

Frida painted this self portrait in the summer of 1926.  She named it Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress. The story goes that she painted it for her lover at the time, Alejandro.  Their relationship was turning sour at the time because Alejandro thought Frida was too liberal and wild.  She sent him this painting and promised him that she will be a better person to deserve him.  Well that relationship clearly didn't work and along came Diego and the rest is history.

If a seven foot print of Frida Kahlo's self portrait doesn't belong in our house, then I don't know where it would.  I also learned that the best way for me to teach the girls about Art history is by surrounding them with Art.

Bella is not a big fan of the painting.  She said, "I don't know about her eyebrows."  Even though Bella is the more creative and artsy one of the two, she is not as into art history as Aurora.  When Aurora saw the print, she said, "That is Frida Kahlo."  Then she said, "Well, she is not a very pretty woman but I do like her make up."  So of course there was a discussion about how beauty lies in having confidence in yourself and not caring about what others might say about you.

  You know sometimes you say things to your children then forget about them?  Well today, I was doing my hair and I said, "Aurora, do you like my hair like this or this?"  She said as she brushes my cheek gently, "your normal self because I like you just how you are."  I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.  Well at least I know my love for Mr.Darcy is rubbing off on my children.

 With that I will leave you with this quote from Frida.

"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you."

Be unapologetically you.



 January.  When did you arrive and where did you go?  Our life has been a quiet one here.  I have been fighting this cold for half of the month.  I am sure I have coughed more than I have talked.  Here is to better winter days.



Stories of my grandmothers

I have two sets of grandparents just from my mother's side.  It is an interesting story that if I invest enough time, it would makes for a great novel.  From snippets of story and through conversations, I gathered that my biological grandmother comes from a poor village family and when she was in her teens, she came to her cousin of some distant relation's home to help.  This cousin of hers was wealthy and educated and married to a doctor.  Of course this was during the time when Burma was still a British colony.  They lived in a beautiful grand Victorian home with a garden surrounding the whole property.  They seem to have it all except they couldn't have any children.  The story goes that my grandmother was arranged to get married at the age of seventeen to a local jail warden.  She would then have five children and each child was adopted by her cousin.  My grandmother continued to live in her cousin's home and took care of the house and its residents.  My mother and her siblings were loved and raised by two sets of parents who were in their own ways were polar opposites.  I never really got a chance to get to know my grandfathers but my two grandmothers were important figures in my life.  These two women would continue to raise these children and took care of one another long after their husband's deaths and until my Mommy Gyi (my mother's adopted mother) death.  What I remember most about Mommy Gyi is her loves for antiques and decorating.  Every weekend, I woke up to the sounds of furniture moving.  Of course what I remember the most about my other grandmother, Mommy Choe, is her love for cooking.  I can't though figure out if she loves cooking because she truly loves food or if her love stems from spending her whole life in the kitchen and that is where she now feels comfortable most.  She takes great pride in each dishes.  To this day, she wakes up with the sun rise to walk through local farmer market for her ingredients.  She plans each meal thoughtfully to make sure the vegetable dish would compliments the main meat dish and the soup would enhance the flavor of the side dishes.  Her daughters would beg her to relax and not cook anymore but she ends up sneaking into the kitchen and pushing the cooks out of the kitchen anyway.

I think my grandmother's favorite thing to do is to stand next to you as you take your first bite of the meal.  She watches you with such intensity.  I can tell you that even before each flavor burst in my mouth, I know every bite of her food would be delicious.  Even my father, who is very hard to please, will tell everyone that no one can cook as well as his mother in law.

Sometimes I wonder if half the fun in cooking is actually watching other people enjoy your meals.  Every time I fry the chili oil or find some wonderful treasures at a flea market, I feel I am closer to my grandmothers.  Of course, whenever I cook for friends and I find myself staring intensely as they take their first bites and feel a rush of such excitement. I think to myself how the blood and the memories of these two women are rooted so stronger in my identity.

Recipe courtesy of www.cookingforkeeps.com

Spicy Pumpkin and Butternut Ramen
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4
Serving Size: 1 bowl
Easy, thai-style homemade ramen at home and in under 30 minutes!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 fresno chile (or more depending on your spice tolerance), thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 small chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound)
  • 3 ounces chinese ramen noodles (not fried)
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms and chiles, sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add salt and butternut squash. Cook another minute.
  3. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, red curry paste and chicken. Reduce heat to a simmer until chicken is cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred.
  4. Add chicken back to the pot along with noodles.
  5. Cook until noodles are soft.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with sliced chiles and cilantro.



As the first ray of day light slowly drifts through the living room, my  bare feet move through the shadows.  All is quiet except for the noise of this old house waking itself up slowly and the excitement of the dogs who are ready to escape through the back door and into the cold morning for a run.  

Just like yesterday and the day before that, my body moves through the motions of the day.  However if I am mindful enough, in the sameness of everyday, I find life's little pleasures.

Here is just a glimpse of small bits of my day.

I love sitting at Bella's desk and look through her art book.  I am constantly blown away by how amazing children's imagination can be.

I am rarely alone but when I do get a chance to be by myself, I truly cherish it.

Today is one of those days.