November Pictures

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Giada, Life, photography

Hi hi!

Everyday I keep reminding myself that I still have to edit the rest of my San Francisco videos as well as an event I did at the Shedd Aquarium last month. I am muy behind on getting to them, but I am going to try to get one video done this month! I have had my hands tied with freelance work (yay!) and the kids (my 2.5 year old is a handful. I want to chalk it up to his age – and gender [“He’s a boy! Of course he has this much energy,” people tell me], but I’ve seen other kids/boys his age….it’s totally him). November and December have also been about catching up with friends – I feel like there has been an endless fun train of outings and dinner parties…where I don’t pull out my camera. Doh! So in lieu of a blog post about a place or event, here are a few of my favorite Project 365 photos from November:


And let’s end with Giada:

“Where’s the snow????”

Thanksgiving Follow Up

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Life

Thanksgiving table

I wrote my last post feeling good that I wrote it, but not feeling great about the uncertainty of how the day would turn out. I did what I could to focus on the positive, but I couldn’t shake my anxiety. That usually leads me to do nonsensical things. So on Thursday morning, I woke up and announced to my husband that we were going to do a first annual family Turkey Trot. He gave me a look of alarm. (WTF, his face seemed to be screaming. I didn’t sign up for any sort of exercise program this year!!!) I reassured him that I thought we should just run to the corner and back.

A family photo before our 1st Annual .000001K Turkey Trot

I won’t lie – this was fun! I’m going to push everyone to go a little further next year though, lol. Then, we called my dad who lives in Florida. Talked to him for a bit, wishing him a Happy Thanksgiving. Then, FaceTimed my brother, who was sitting at the airport ready to take a flight to Vietnam. (He does Thanksgiving big, ha.) Since my family does Thanksgiving dinner at 6PM, I had to feed the kids a little lunch before putting them down for a nap. With the anxiety still eating at me, I took Giada on a walk…and then came home to watch The Real Housewives of Orange County on Hulu. (I know, I know….We all have our vices!) A few episodes of Tamra and Vicki yelling took the edge off a bit, but I was still a bundle of nerves. My husband knew this and kept reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. “They’re you’re family. They love you and want to see the kids.” For as often as I tell him that he’s wrong not right in his assessment, he was absolutely spot on this year.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a really good night.

I have no idea what changed. Either my aunts and uncles realized that they needed a softer approach with me, or maybe I came in with a different perspective but everything went really well this year. We talked. We laughed. And my kids were the headliners as The Kid ran all over the place, smiling and hugging everyone while The Girl cried the first hour when anyone -other than my husband or me – tried to hold her. (She did warm up by the end of the night.) The food was awesome. I learned a couple of new Vietnamese words (I’m trying to learn one new word a day), including liver and (a word that could be loosely translated to) rugrat. All in all, a fun night & we made plans to get together again as a family next month. We left at around 11PM, smiles on our faces and leftovers in the trunk.

The next day, we went to my friend’s place for Thanksgiving Part II. This is a friend I grew up with (our parents were friends), and honestly, I committed to her Thanksgiving because I was deathly afraid something would go awry with my family and I wanted at least one good Thanksgiving for 2017. Luckily, it was another great night. All the kids ran around and the adults all appreciated the neverending pours of wine. And the food…omg, the food. So good. (My friend is an awesome cook.) This family is also Vietnamese, so I learned two more words/phrases on this night (“Calm down” and gravy…actually, there was a lengthy discussion for gravy, so there were two debated translations for gravy. Ha ha.) Because The Girl was starting to show signs of being tired, we were the first to leave at 11. Before I left, my friend’s dad took my hand and said, “You know, I have watched you grow up and I value your friendship with my daughter. You and your family are my family, and I hope you know that you are like one of my daughters.” I was holding The Girl with tears streaming down my face. I turned around to see my friend with the same amount of moisture trickling down her cheeks. She pulled me in and said, “We are sisters, Diana.” Despite wanting to kill them for making me cry (I kid, I kid), I will say that this was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had – 2017 did not fail and in fact, my anxiety was a wasted emotion. My guard is down and remains down. I am relieved and look forward to next year’s festivities.

But first: Christmas. 🙂


Thanks for following along.

Thanksgiving Anxiety

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Life


Have I ever mentioned that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? I mean, the food…so it goes without saying. And in my family, it’s traditional Thanksgiving food PLUS Vietnamese food. The spread is awesome. The company, on the other hand….well….The last few years have been a little tough as we’ve spent them with my relatives, who are a little bit on the honest side. One Thanksgiving, for example, my aunt told me that my food was only good enough for my dog. I laughed, and although I acknowledge I can be a little sensitive, I still thought that was a little too harsh for a joke. After another Thanksgiving, my cousin sent me a picture of a turkey her mom (my aunt – the same one) had made and said that her mom said her turkey was better than mine. Geez. So last year, I tried to get away from all of it. A Rest Year if you will, but somehow got roped back into it. This year, same thing. This year, however, will be something of a Judgement Day to check my tolerance for their behavior (because let’s face it: maybe their actions are fine and I’m the one getting worked up over nothing) – it’ll pretty much determine if it’s time for my little family to do our own festivities from here on out. I hope that things go smoothly, but in case they don’t, here are a few (coping) strategies that I have or will employ:

  • First thing’s first: write down your worries. Take a pen and a piece of paper, write down what specifically is bothering you. I don’t think writing a blog post (like this) will be that therapeutic but writing something down on paper (as I did above) is a good way for you to come face-to-face with the issue. Allowing yourself additional time to brainstorm solutions (and also writing them down!) is even better.
  • Don’t react. I came from a family of instant reactors – someone says something and we freakin’ fly off the handle. As a result, I have witnessed/heard of some stuff going down within The Nguyen Clan that would make Jerry Springer blush. In any case, when your Uncle Charles tells you that you’re incapable of having a second child because you need to devote more time to the first (yes, this was said to me when I was 38 weeks pregnant with #2 and yes, I changed the name of the real uncle) yelling back probably isn’t the best solution, especially as there are kids around….as well as adults (that you’re related to) also watching…and smirking as they live for this kind of drama. Instead, try counting to ten before responding. I just read somewhere that it helps to have a drink in your hand. Then, you can sip while counting to ten before reacting – and it looks natural. The 10 count is supposed to prevent you from saying the wrong thing. Use this time to calm down and think of a smart/clever/sarcastic response to shut it down. Oh, and keep the drink in your hand. No throwing allowed.
  • Or disengage & leave the room. Truth to told, this is what I did with Uncle Charles (after staring him down for 3 seconds – I didn’t know about the 10 count rule at the time!). I went to the other room and sat with the kids. Kids are the best company sometimes. 🙂 Or if things get really bad, politely say your good-byes and leave. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Change your perspective. You can either spin the whole thing into a positive (“I’m lucky that I have a large family that wants to spend the holidays with me”) or try to understand where your relatives are coming from. For me, I know that my aunts and uncles come from an emotionally stunted upbringing and it’s easier for them to say the things they say instead of the positive, supportive things I want them to hear. They don’t know any other way, and I have to try to do my best to be the change I want to see in my family. (Thanks, Gandhi. Or not?)

And those are my thoughts. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and the day ends with full bellies and even fuller hearts. XOXOXOXOXO.

By the way, I lied. This post was kinda therapeutic. And also: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is pretty much that book that helped me with the tips mentioned below. A good read for anyone dealing with people on a regular basis (so yeah, that kinda means all of us, lol).

stop motion of Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Dinner in Half Moon Bay

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photography, Video

Here’s a video with a continuation of our time in San Francisco. After dinner (which I didn’t include in this video), we went to a pumpkin patch nearby to entertain The Kid. (The Girl – who was 10 months old at this point – couldn’t have cared less as long as someone was holding her. Infants are such divas, ha ha.) Anyway, it was a cool time. The pumpkin patch (well, all pumpkin patches really) made for a great backdrop…and we were there during golden hour, so I snapped what I could while chasing the hyperactive 2-year-old.

pumpkin patch Half Moon Bay, California


pumpkin patch Half Moon Bay, California
The Kid is on the left with a new friend he made while running around. It always amazes me at how quickly kids befriend one another.
pumpkin patch Half Moon Bay, California
Pumpkin picking (or pretending to per my instructions, ha ha).

Before we left, my sister-in-law suggested taking a picture by the big pumpkin. We waited as there was a family ahead of us. When they were done, I asked the wife if she would take our picture. “Oh, I don’t know how to use those things. My husband is better!” I handed my camera to her husband, and he clicked away. We said our thanks and headed to the car. When I flipped through the pictures, I found this and about 10 similar shots:

when you ask a stranger to take your picture

HA HA HA HA HA. Blurry fabulousity from The Photographer Extraordinaire!

This is 100% my fault. I should have set up the camera before handing it over to him. Lesson learned! In the meantime, I’ll keep laughing every time I see this and will continue to debate if I should include it in this year’s family photo album.

Happy Friday!

I love the Ferry Building

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Travel, Video

Have you heard that editing videos is hard? It is! I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took to edit this piece, but I learned a few things so the time wasn’t wasted. In any case, I don’t think I did the Ferry Building any justice here, but I do want to say that this might be my favorite market in the country and if you find yourself in San Francisco on a Saturday morning, you should 1000% drop in and stuff your face silly. It’s the right thing to do. 🙂

Library books [stop motion] & I want to start a dinner club

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Cinemagraph/Stop Motion, Food

library books stop motionPopped over to the library last weekend to grab a book (Anything You Want which I was curious about after seeing it mentioned on the Think.Grow.Prosper blog). Long story short (pun intended), I ended up leaving with 9 books. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It happens.

On the subject of books, I’m currently reading Bread and Wine, which is Chicago author Shauna Niequist’s account about how a few food gatherings have created a sense of community around and away from the table. It’s beautifully written and most of the chapters end with a recipe that leaves me drooling. The book, in general though, has planted a seed with wanting to start a monthly dinner club now. We seem to have people come through our table at least once every two months, so why not make it more of an organized thing? The hurdles seem to be that we don’t have real friends in our community (I am trying to change this!) as our friends all live at least 30 minutes away and I wonder if people would be willing to do all that driving on a regular basis. (Suburban living at its finest.) Everyone is busy, and maybe I’m overthinking this one as I should just ask and see who might be interested. For the record, just to show you how preoccupied I am about this dinner club thing, here are the links that I’ve been (re)reading all week:

Maybe this will be my project for 2018. 🙂

Went to San Francisco For Some Crackbread

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Food, Travel, Video
"I want crackbread."
“I want crackbread.”

Okay, that wasn’t the only reason we were in the Bay Area (my brother & his wife live there), but hey, it was an option so it became a priority. 🙂 The low down on crackbread:

  • Crackbread is more properly known as Sweet Senorita Bread. It’s addicting (hence, the name). If I had to describe it, it’d be some like a supersoft baguette with some butter and condensed milk (I think?) rolled into it.
  • You can’t have 1. Seriously. Don’t be that person. Leave with at least 5 pieces per person. Read the Yelp reviews if you don’t believe me.
  • These are best eaten as the box is handed over to you. Warm crackbread is the best bread.
  • The place that serves crackbread – Starbread Bakery – is quick, fast and cheap. I think they serve food, but the two times I’ve been there, people just come in and out for “the goods”.  Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.

Enough of that. I didn’t bring Walter with me on this trip because I wanted to focus on getting to know Miss Daphne. [She’s so much easier to tote around!] It’s been fun taking pictures with a smaller camera, and I’m trying to get in the habit of shooting more video. Now I’m going to have to get into the habit of keeping the camera still. 😉

I’m getting hungry for some again. However, since I’m nowhere near South San Francisco at the moment, I may just try this copycat recipe one of these days.


Posted Leave a commentPosted in Cinemagraph/Stop Motion, Travel, Video

Swinging on swing set at Mission Dolores Park San Francisco

The family and I went to San Francisco this past week to visit the other part of our family (my brother & his wife). I didn’t take as many pictures as I normally do on this trip and opted to hit the record button more. I’m not sure how that went as I haven’t previewed too many of the clips yet, but we shall see, LOL. Anyway, here’s a cinemagraph of us hanging out on the swing set at Mission Dolores Park. I was hoping we’d be here with a bag full of treats from Tartine (which is down the street), but the line was too long. The people outside tried to convince me that the line was quick moving, but I didn’t want to chance it with two of my fidgety travel buddies. Next time, Tartine!!!

Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Auto Adapter [vlog]

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photography, Video

I’m totally enjoying vlogging these days, so finding camera accessories for my Canon M6 to make the video recording process easier makes me happy. Truth be told, I probably didn’t need a lens adapter, but I’m very, very dependent on my prime lenses (50 mm & 24 mm) so hmmm, maybe I did need the adapter. I’m needy and like what I like. 😉 Anyway, the Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter is $40 on Amazon vs the one available with Canon at $249. The reviews for the Fotoxio adapter were good (4.5 stars and 129 reviews….good enough for me). No regrets yet!

More babbling about the lens adapter: