Maxine’s Zhua Zhou First Birthday Ceremony

My daughter Maxine celebrated her first birthday on December 19. She is growing up so fast. I really can’t believe it! My cousin’s girlfriend told me about a fun Chinese ceremony when a baby turns one. It’s called the zhua zhou ceremony, where symbolic objects are laid out in front of a baby to grab. Whatever the baby reaches for and plays with can indicate future employment prospects or interests. 

We are a little late, but I thought it would be fun to do! I researched and found more information and potential objects to use via Gathered Gifts’ blog story.

Here is a list of some objects and meanings.

From Gathered Gifts

I substituted the following:

Abacus to Cash; Paint Brush to Hair Brush; Calculator to Whiteout; Chicken leg to Bamboo; Lego to Puzzle Piece; Microphone to Fan; Stethoscope to Thermometer; Sword to Shield

Picture of layout

Moment of truth. Maxine’s top three…

1. Shallot = Intelligence

2. Measuring tape = Designer/Architect

3. Shield = Law enforcement

Rounding out top 5…

4. Cell phone = Tech Entrepreneur 

5. Celery = Industrious

Not bad! LOL. I can’t wait till she is older to see what she likes and is passionate about.

My Dear Friend- Notes to Seniors who need them

Last year, my Dad fractured his hip, and for five months, he stayed in a hospital, a long-term care facility, and then a rehab facility. This was all through COVID restrictions, and I couldn’t visit him. It was tough, and I know it took a toll on my Dad. I wish that there were more opportunities to connect.

GlamourGals is a nonprofit that provides programming for elderly residents. They currently help reach out to isolated seniors through their #mydearfriend program, where individuals can write notes to senior citizens in need of some care and comfort in various facilities. This is my second batch of letters within the year, and I enjoy it. These cards are geared towards Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day, but you can make cards year-round.

If you want to do some good on your own or with friends, consider making cards or having a card-making party! Here is where you can find out more information.

January Pantry Challenge

This month, I took part in The Sweet Frugal Life’s January Pantry Challenge, where I took an inventory of what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer to make dishes. I wasn’t super strict with it and only made a handful of meals, but I still consider it a success!

The main takeaway from my experience; I have a lot of soup in my pantry!

Here are some of my dishes.

shrimp and veggie stir fry
red beans and rice take 1
red beans and rice take 2
eggs and spam
miso ramen
New England clam chowder
cream of mushroom chicken

So long 2021

My 2021 wasn’t terrible. I became a Mom, and I celebrated and enjoyed life as much as possible. I explored and pushed myself to try new things. I got creative with ways to motivate myself, and I continue to move forward. It sucks that I’m spending the last day taking care of a sick baby, but such is life.

Below is my picture recap of the year. I choose one picture to sum up each month.

January- I became a Mom! I gave birth to Maxine Amelia on Dec 19, 2020. My first month as a mom was rough and full of learning moments, but I’m thankful every day for my munchkin.
February- My mom turned 77 this year. With the pandemic, it was tough to see her and our family. This amazing picture (of three generations) was taken at my Aunt’s house. We celebrated my Mom’s birthday, and family members finally met Maxine.
March- With a new baby, it’s hard to get out, and it was tough to have time just for my husband and me. I signed us up for a beer and cheese virtual tasting as a date night. It was a lot of fun and informative.
April- I did many fun things in April, including an oyster shucking class and a cooking class with Daniel Boulud, but nothing can beat my Dad finally coming home from rehab after fracturing his hip. December 2020, my father fractured his hip, had to have surgery, and caught covid and pneumonia in the hospital. At the beginning of the year, my father was moved to a long-term care facility in Jersey first and finally placed in a rehab facility in Queens soon after. It was a challenging situation, mainly because of covid and I couldn’t see him. He finally came home at the end of April, and he got to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
May- I decided to sign-up for a flower CSA from May to October. It was a bit pricey, if I’m going to be honest, but so worth it! I picked up flowers every week; it was very refreshing. I even tried my hand at arranging the flowers. It was fun and relaxing.
June- Andrew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by attending a virtual magic show by Dan White. It was AMAZING and blew our minds.
July- We celebrated Dad, who turned 79! My family has a house in Long Island that we share by the beach. My dad rarely visits, but my Aunt and Uncle threw him a little party, and he enjoyed the day and area.
August- We had a family vacation in the Catskills at the end of August. We rented a house with a pool and jacuzzi; it was amazing and much needed. I don’t have many pictures of my husband smiling, so I’m taking advantage and showing his beautiful smile.
September- Self-care became tricky during the pandemic. I finally decided enough was enough with my hair and chopped it off. Quite liberating if I say so myself.
October- I turned the big 4*0* this month. We decided to head over to Crystal Springs Resort for a few days and enjoy the fall season. The resort was fantastic with great food, and I took advantage of the spa. We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, went through a corn maze, and enjoyed wine and spirit tastings in the area. It was very low-key and chill.
November- Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I appreciate the time with family and the overall idea of gratitude. I shared my journal of things I’m grateful for already in another post. My husband had to work on Thanksgiving, but I still enjoyed the day, reflected on everything I’m thankful for, and cooked a feast.
December- This month was filled with friend and family activities, but I couldn’t help picking the time decorating the gingerbread house as my picture for the month. It gets harder and harder to find activities that my parents are willing to do and be a part of. Next year, I will continue to brainstorm ideas.

It was great to reflect on the year. I hope you had some time for reflection as well.

Cheers to 2022!

What I’m thankful for

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving with you and yours.

This entire month I’ve been creating space to give thanks in all areas of my life, and each day in November, I identified something I was thankful for. I’ve done this for the past few years, and I’ve found it powerful and therapeutic. It has helped me reset and focus on what is important to me. Here is my list. I hope it inspires you to do the same in your way.

Nov 1: I’m incredibly thankful for my daughter Maxine. I went through three miscarriages within a year before her, and it was a tough time in my life. Being pregnant with her during the height of the pandemic was not fun, but it was a blessing in disguise. The pandemic forced me to stay home and take care of myself, and that is exactly what I needed. Last year at this time, I was having my baby shower and getting ready to give birth; time flies. Here is our first and our latest selfies. I love her so much my heart is going to explode.

Our very first selfie
Our latest selfie

Nov 2: I’m thankful for my two kitties BB and PJ. These two lovelies made me a fur mom and have brightened my day for ten-plus years. I don’t give them enough attention these days, but I love them so much. One important thing I intend to do this month is take them to the Vet. It’s so important for pets to have yearly checkups. Also, my PSA of the moment, pet insurance is everything. If you can afford it, get it. It will help in the long run.

Here is a picture of my two beauties, BB (white tabby) and PJ (orange tabby)

Nov 3: It is definitely an acquired taste in entertainment, but I enjoy the Masked Singer. For those unfamiliar, it is a reality show where celebrities perform in a mask and leave clues for a panelist of judges to guess who they are. The performances are great and all, but what I love about the show is that my husband and I watch it together and try to guess who the celebrities are. It is something we both do together. My husband is great at guessing the identities, but I’ll never admit that to him.

Nov 4: I don’t drive anymore; my husband does all the driving and is usually the one with the car. When I need to get around, I Uber, and I used to take the train daily, but I haven’t been on mass transportation since the pandemic shutdown. Today I had to pick up a food delivery, and I had a round trip set with the same Uber driver, and my daughter came with. My thanks today goes to my driver. Not only was he extremely friendly, but he was also great with conversation. We talked about our families, the pandemic, and work. Some Uber rides can be extremely awkward, but sometimes they are pretty pleasant.

Nov 5: My mom will be my focus today. I’m thankful for her every day, but she comes to mind today because we enjoyed a lovely virtual chocolate tasting together. Jeez, I don’t know where I would be without my mom; she basically raised me by herself (my parents separated when I was three). She drives me bonkers most of the time but I honestly don’t know where I would be without her.

Nov 6: Today, I had a fantastic spa day with my childhood friends. We don’t get to see each other often, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. The spa was amazing and had a lot of features, but we each booked a Korean Body Scrub, and it was everything. Now the scrub itself wasn’t exactly fabulous (beauty is pain people), but the results were. My skin came out glowing! My technician took care of me and is who I’m thankful for today. She scrubbed me raw, massaged me a little, cleaned me up and my bathing suit, and did it with a smile. Thanks for taking care of me!

Posing at the spa

Nov 7: Today is Marathon Sunday. My day has been filled up with memories of me running the marathon in 2017. I ran/walked it, and it took me forever, but I finished. I wanted to quit so many times, I hurt myself a few days before, I didn’t train as much as I wanted, and the weather was awful, but I kept going. Friends along the way, the crowds cheering me on, and the random strangers sharing their stories helping me along the way were a god sent. I’m so thankful for the memories, and I’m determined to beat my score in the future.

Nov 8: Today is my Auntie Oyee’s Birthday. I have a special place in my heart for my Auntie because not only was she my babysitter when I was a baby, but she has been a confidant all my life. She always supports me, and for that, I’m truly thankful.

My aunt with Maxi

Nov 9: I heard from my old co-worker Sandra today, and I’m so grateful for her friendship. My old work environment was a bit toxic in many regards. She always had my back and supported me when I needed it, and I can’t thank her enough.

Nov 10: I’m very grateful for my love for adventure. Tomorrow, Andrew and I will climb a side of a skyscraper. Let’s see how it goes!

Nov 11: I’m very thankful for our Veterans. My life would be very different without their sacrifice and service.

Nov 12: I’ve been volunteering with The New York Junior League since 2014. The league is a women’s volunteer organization focused on empowering women and improving communities. I’ve learned so much, met a ton of great women, and have been able to use my professional skills for a good cause; I’m very thankful for that.

Nov 13: Today, I had brunch with my girls. I’ve known this group of friends for over 25 years. So thankful that even though we don’t see each other often, time doesn’t change our friendship.

Nov 14: Every Sunday, my husband and I try to visit my in-laws for family time with the baby. His brother’s family and sister also attend, so it always feels like a party. I’m grateful for this special time, and Maxine is always around family.

Nov 15: I’m writing this as I watch my baby Maxine take a nap. I’m internally grateful for the quiet moments to myself that I’m able to get. Whether to plan, read, meditate or exercise, I know it is super important to take the time.

Nov 16: It’s getting pretty cold here in New York. I’m grateful that I have access to heat at all times.

Nov 17: I’ve been trying to exercise for some time and have struggled to find motivation. I came across the Conqueror Virtual Challenges. You choose a location ( most of them are bucket list locations), the number of miles you want to accomplish, and set a goal on when you want to complete it. You log your physical activities and receive information about the location you choose when you reach specific milestones. It took me a minute to figure out some of the app features, but I’m loving it right now and am grateful I found it. It makes exercising fun and a game. The best part is you get a medal to show off after. The location I chose is Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Screenshot of App

Nov 18: Sleep is hard to come by these days as a mother to an 11 month-year-old, but thankfully Maxine has been sleeping through the night. I hope to keep that up.

Nov 19: Last year around this time, my father fractured his hip. It was awful, I was just about to give birth, and he also caught pneumonia and Covid in the hospital. Anything that could have happened did. I’m so grateful that he pulled through and fully recovered. He has to walk with a walker or cane, but that’s life. I’m just so happy that I can continue to make memories with my Dad.

Dad with Maxi

Nov 20: Today, my focus is on my apartment. It’s a hot mess, but it’s mine. I’m so thankful for its shelter and comfort. There are so many individuals and families who are homeless, and it breaks my heart. At this moment, I feel so blessed.

Nov 21: This weekend, I took part in my Sorority’s virtual 5K. Even better was that I could use the miles for my Angkor Wat challenge. I’m thankful for my body, most specifically my legs, for keeping me active. I always take my health for granted but that is something I’m working on.

At Cunningham Park in Queens

Nov 22: I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, Andrew. We’ve been together for a total of 12 years. He is an amazing father and my best friend. He pushes me to be the best version of myself and I’m thankful for that.

Fun family pic sans the cats

Nov 23: I’m an only child, but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by my cousins all my life. Rose and Lizzie are my two cousins who are more like sisters. We don’t see each other as often as I would like, but they have always been there for me, and I’m very lucky to have them in my life.

Messing around

Nov 24: I recently signed up for an Oyster CSA. Every other week I pick up fresh oysters and seafood. This week, I picked up oysters and littleneck clams. This is my second pick-up, and so far, everything has been yummy. A huge thanks to World’s Your Oyster Co. for putting this all together.

Shuck them all by myself!

Nov 25: I’m thankful for you. Thanks so much for reading.

Queens Perennial- Flower CSA

I first heard about Queens Perennial through a friend’s Instagram post last year. The CSA partners with Luna Family Farm to offer flowers each week from May to October. I knew I wanted to take part this year because who doesn’t want amazing flowers each week!

I’ve loved all the flowers so far. Check out the beauties I received…

Rose Quince
Snowballs and Lilacs
Peonies and Crimson Clovers
Pastel Yarrow
Teddy Bear Sunflowers and Amaranth

Each week, I get a new bouquet and instructions on how to take care of it. Besides appreciating the beautiful flowers, I also enjoy learning about each one. Most of the flowers I’ve never heard of.

The CSA has four locations to pick up from (Astoria, Jackson Heights, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg). If you are interested in learning more and signing up for the last six weeks, check out

My decade in review

Oh my, so much has happened in the past ten years. The good, the bad and everything else in between. Here is my decade in review of some of my best memories.


I was working at Interference, an event marketing firm in Soho, and been with Andrew for almost two years. We decided to go on a romantic vacation to Costa Rica. This was the first trip we did an all-inclusive package and got SPOILED. Here is a picture of us getting ready to zipline and me on the beach. To be that thin again… le sigh.


I turned the big 3 0!!! We went on a Carnival cruise to Mexico. The port was in New Orleans, so of course we had to stay an extra couple of days to explore. Here is a picture of me clearly enjoying my birthday!


I started working for nonprofits around this time. My first one was the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. Now they are known by a different name but their mission is to mentor young chefs. I had the privilege to help plan their 2012 competition at the Culinary Institute of America. The winner represented USA at the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France. No big deal right! Here is a photo of the competition set-up.


I became a condo owner!!


I began running this year. My first ever race was The Color Run. We had so much fun. I’m not sure why I’m the only one that got color blasted but ok.


I joined the Volunteer Training and Leadership committee at the New York Junior League this year. The committee is now known as Volunteer Education and Training and is pretty dear to my heart as I become the co-chair two years later. The league is one of the oldest and largest women volunteer organizations and the committee I chose to volunteer with focuses on training women on various topics to help with their professional and volunteer career. This picture is of my very first event that I helped with as part of the committee. I’m now part of the Annual Fund team.


I started Grad school! I decided to get my masters in Nonprofit Leadership.


I did the unthinkable, I ran the NYC marathon. Well I ran/walked it but still. I worked my butt off and I raised $5K for the New York Junior League. Look at all my medals.


I got married!!!


It’s been a year of me creating my own traditions with Andrew. This holiday season I did a lot of firsts. I carved my first pumpkin, I made my first thanksgiving meal all by myself and we got our first tree.

I had a great decade, cheers to the next 10!

Goodbye 2019

I’m not going to lie, 2019 was a rough year for me personally and professionally but I had some really great moments with the people I care about. So here is my year in review…

January was a tough month for me but Andrew and I were still able to have a kick ass date night at Secret Summer’s Aquarius party. Here I am with the naughty wolves.

In February, Andrew and I decided to get away from NY for Valentine’s Day and his birthday and headed to The French Manor Inn and Spa in the Poconos.

Early March, I celebrated my Mom’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants London Lennies.

Enjoyed Cherry Blossom season in DC with my friends Dawn and Christie in April.

Kicked off the summer season with my girls at Jones Beach for Memorial Day Weekend. Got the weirdest tan which I still have till this day.

Andrew and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in June. We enjoyed a beautiful boat cruise and then a few days later had dinner at our wedding venue. Here is Andrew messing around on the boat cruise.

Got to enjoy my family’s beach house in Shirley Long Island in July. I don’t go there enough. It was beautiful and peaceful.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with trying to hit all 50 states lately. After working on a small puzzle of the US for a team building exercise in August, I bought a bigger one and plotted my next adventure.

My next adventure turned out to be a road trip in South Dakota and Minnesota in September! Here is a picture of us in the Badlands.

October is a very important month because it’s BIRTHDAY month! I did a lot of celebrating but my fav was exploring the Sojo Spa in New Jersey. Multiple floors, hydrotherapy, infinity pool….I can go on and on. Here we are in the heated pool.

I kicked ass for Thanksgiving. I cooked a full menu, cooking a turkey for the first time, which included an apple pie. I really out did myself.

Here is a picture of my turkey pre-oven:

Here is my apple pie:

And lastly, December. I started the year rough and I ended the year rough but being with family this past week has been a god sent. One thing I’m really proud of this month is getting my tree. I’ve never really grown up with a tree so getting one was a big deal to me. I’m sure I’ll collect more ornaments in the future but it was the perfect first tree.

It’s been real 2019 but 2020 I’m coming for ya!

NYC Holiday Windows

There is nothing like New York City during the holidays. I always visit Herald Square, Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue at this time of year. It’s become a tradition!

Carnival games seem to be the theme for Macy’s and Bergdorf.

Here are my favs from Macy’s:

Here are my favs from Bergdorf:

Saks had an amazing Frozen display. Still haven’t seen the movie yet though!