My super co-workers!

Happy first day of June!!! It’s amazing how fast time flies! Not that I’m complaining since I’m graduating next Friday!!! Anyhow, speaking of amazing-ness, I’ve literally been waiting since April to do this post to show off my amazing team. I wanted to collect as many pictures as possible from our company’s Spring Symposium, a series 3 of conferences in Northern CA, Southern CA, and Chicago that my team helps organize.

However, since our photographer, Jaime (ahem…) is forever too busy to upload all of the high resolution pictures, these few photos that I was able to scavenge will have to do.

A little bit about us – we are made up of the Meetings & Event and Clinical Education departments. We also adopted a few IT guys into the family. Fun facts:

  • We coordinate clinical education workshops that use specimens ranging from chicken skin to pig feet and lungs to real human corpses.
  • We organize our company’s meetings and events, some of which require assigned seating for 1600+ people.
  • Our department has the MedAmerica Heartthrob, who is related to Johnny Torrio, the famous Chicago mobster in the 1920’s (though the legitimacy of their kinship is to be determine).

My favorite memory of us: running on the beach and jumping into the ocean after a huge delicious dinner! Here are a couple pictures of us (missing a few members) on a lifeguard shack somewhere on the Long Beach City beach. #BestTeamEver

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Here are a few other pictures of us in Long Beach- walking to the restaurant and ordering/ eating a ridiculous amount of delicious food!

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A few of us who arrived at Long Beach the day before went out to eat at The Boathouse on the Bay. If you’re in the area and want some fresh seafood with a nice ambiance, this place is the way to go!

Gorgeous sunset, delicious seafood, and awesome company. Boat house on the Bay Boat house on the Bay 3

Since I ran out of pictures and we’re still on the subject of amazing-ness, here are some pictures of my Tie-dye team from our company-wide Amazing Race, in which we competed among 22 teams at the Berkeley Marina to complete various tasks during the allotted 2 hours. The tasks includes finding locations and people, solving puzzles to find clues, dancing, building plastic towers, flinging rubber chickens, and smashing other teams’ eggs… Wait, just kidding, the egg smashing wasn’t part of it. By the way, did I mention that the company’s CEO was part of our group?! See that gangster looking guy in the back with the tie-dye headband and sunglasses throwing up number 1? That’s our CEO! Seriously #BestCompanyEver

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Now guys, although we won first place, the most important thing is that we had fun!… And that we won some serious bling!!! Check out our gold dollar chains! We’re fosho gonna rep it at the next staff meeting! First Place Team.1

Last but not least, let’s not forget about our team’s witness and war casualty, whom was smashed during the race due to bitter revenge. Where’s the Peace, Love and Harmony, man?! I guess “all is fair in love and war”.

Amazing race Witness and casualty

The take-aways:

  1. Do not pass up an opportunity to jump into the ocean on a warm night, especially when you’re in the company of great friends. Though, do consider white pants and other see-though garments when wet.
  2. We shall not talk about what happened after the Gangster Tour in Chicago.
  3. Do work for a company with a caring culture and a team that is made up of not just your co-workers, but is your work family!

Vietnamese Vermicelli with Roasted Catfish

I’ve been wanting to share a Vietnamese recipe with you all for a while now and here it is finally! But first, I think it’s necessary to mention the environmental disaster on the central coast of Vietnam that is killing millions of fishes right now, adversely impacting thousands of people’s lives, and the Vietnamese government is doing little to nothing about it. Here‘s a short article on the issue in case you are interested. No big take-away here, but my heart is heavy for my country and my people and I wanted to share the issue with you all.

Onto a happier subject, I recently had vermicelli with roasted catfish for dinner with my parents, brother, his girlfriend, Sylvia, and my fiance, Jesse. We didn’t take a group picture at the meal, but here’s an old picture of us from a couple of Christmases ago. The holidays season at my house is usually pretty quiet, but I think this Christmas in particular was pretty festive for us. We celebrated with a nice Vietnamese meal together (once step at a time, we’re still trying to assimilate to the American culture after about 20 years of being in the US- We’ll maybe ….eventually… try a turkey dinner, but not yet…) and we even exchanged gifts. It was nice! We’re almost as American as we are Vietnamese… I said “almost”!

Family_editedSince our family wouldn’t be complete without our cat, Bamboo, here’s a separate picture of him. (Bamboo is usually pretty shy. He only likes when we take pictures of him by himself or sometimes with my dad only.) This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of him. ❤

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Alright, on to the recipe!

Fish and veggies: Prep a medium size catfish- clean and cut it open along the spine. (Be super careful prepping your fish, since catfishes are usually pretty slippery.)

Lay on an oiled pan and season with about 3 tbs of oyster sauce, 1/2 tbs of sugar, black peppers, and 2-3 sliced shallots.

Cover the fish with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees F for about 40 minutes. Then open the foil and broil on high for 5 minutes.

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Below are the veggies that we used to top the fish, though you can use any of your favorite veggies to substitute. Generally, the more colorful your veggies, the better the dish will look and taste.

Organic snow peas from our garden, bell peppers-red, orange and yellow, lots of mushrooms (There were more mushrooms that are not pictured. I love mushrooms!), an onion, and a few stalks of green onion.

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While the fish was baking, we cleaned, chopped and sauteed the veggies on high heat in a wok with some garlic, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

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When the fish is done, put the mixed veggies, sprinkle a few crushed toasted peanuts, and scatter some caramelized shallots on top. Are you salivating yet?! Because I am… We’re not done yet though. Hold your horses!

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Vermicelli noodles: Boil and drain 1 or 1/2 pack of vermicelli rice noodles. We usually buy the dry noodle packs that look something like below. Personally, I don’t think there is a lot of variation between brands, so it should be fine as long as you get the “rice vermicelli” noodles- in medium or small size if you see different sizes (the XL is usually for a different noodle dish, called Bun Bo Hue, which hopefully I’ll get to make and share with you soon.) Here’s a YouTube video on how to make perfect rice vermicelli noodles by Trang at RunAwayRice.

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Here’s what it should look like when you’re done boiling and draining it.

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Fish sauceI forgot to take a picture of the fish sauce, but to make it, you just need to mix the below ingredients in a bowl.

1/2 cup of water (or a little bit more depending how diluted you like your sauce)
3 tbs of fish sauce
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 Tsb. minced garlic
2 minced red Thai chili pepper (optional/ more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
lime juice from 1/2 of a lime

Greens:

Lettuce, cucumber, mint, rau ram (aka. Vietnamese coriander), rau tia to (aka. red perilla) and if you are adventurous, try some rau giap ca (aka. fish mint- it naturally tastes a little fishy!).

Do make sure to add some bean sprouts if you can. I love bean sprouts with my vermicelli dishes, but we forgot to get some this time.

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Slice the cucumber, wash the greens thoroughly and cut them into small 1/2 inch pieces. Put them into serving bowl.

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Top the greens with some vermicelli noodles.

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Add some fish, mixed veggies and sauce and ENJOY!

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Best Vegetarian Curry Ever!

Okay, so I exaggerated a little, but I learned some new tips to cook curry from my friend, Radha, and am really happy with the results. Can’t wait to share the recipe with you in this post!

An itsy bit on Radha: She moved to the Bay Area about a year ago from Nashville, Tennessee. She has a blog called “My Bay Life“, documenting her experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, book/ library/ coffee shop recommendations and more! Make sure you check it out! My favorite memory with Radha: exploring Portland, Oregon #KeepPortlandWeird, watching the Lego movie at the OMSI- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry- and having the “Everything is Awesome” song stuck in our head for the rest of the weekend.

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Radha has been a vegetarian all her life, so of course I had to request her to teach me one of her vegetarian recipes. We decided on curry and it was delish!

Below are the ingredients, though you can substitute any of the below for those that you prefer. The potatoes or sweet potato are necessary for the curry to taste good though in my opinion, so keep one or both in the recipe if possible. The below list makes 4 servings

-2 Potatoes

-1 Sweet potato

-1 Onion

-1 Zucchini

-1 Red bell peppers

-1 Lemon

-1/3 lb Green beans

-2 Cans of coconut milk

-Cauliflower and tofu (not pictured)

-Lemon leaves

-Thai basil

-Yellow curry paste or curry powder

-Jasmine rice

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This is the curry paste that we used. It was easy to use since we didn’t need to add anything extra and it turned out pretty yummy.

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First, cook the jasmine rice in a separate pot or in a rice cooker. Then, saute the potatoes and sweet potato with onions. Add 2 cups of water and let simmer until the potatoes are fully cooked.

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While the potatoes simmer, clean and prep the other veggies.

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Pluck the basil leaves and wash them. I ❤ Basil… yummmm!!!

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Cut the bell pepper, zucchini, cauliflower and tofu and julienne the lemon leaves.

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Mix all of the veggies in with the potatoes.

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Once the veggies are cooked, mix in the tofu.

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Add 2 cans coconut milk. Here is a good tip that Radha showed me: turn heat to medium low! This way, you won’t change the coconut milk’s consistency. If the heat is on too high, the coconut milk won’t taste as good.

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Mix in about 4-6 table spoon of yellow curry paste depending how much curry you’d like.

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Add salt to taste if you’d like and sprinkle the lemon leaves on top.

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Serve with basil leaves and jasmine rice. Here’s another tip I learned from Radha: Serve with a wedge of lemon! It’s extra good with a hint of lemon! Why did I not think of this before?! It’s genius! You should try it! #MindBlown

(The sriracha sauce is just for decoration.)

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Here’s the complete meal.

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Bonus picture: Sway and Radha snapchatting the dinner before we eat.

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We’re considering Co-housing!!!

First off, I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend and had a chance to give thanks to all the wonderful moms and mom-figures out there! I will be posting my Mother’s Day activities in a few days so stay tuned!

This week, I will be continuing my mentor-streak! I met Stacey and Lisa (and many other amazing mentors) at the UC Berkeley Project: CollegeBound mentorship program when I was in 6th grade. Almost every day after school, one of the mentors would come to Willard Middle School to walk me, Somsak, Yoon-jin (a.k.a. the Power Puff Girls) and a few other students to the UC Berkeley campus, where they helped us with homework, college prep, and even personal counseling when we needed it.

Favorite Memory:  Girls’ night at Alice’s apartment, where we made/ ate sushi and watched Princess Mononoke. After we were done with the sushi, we put seaweed on our teeth and pretended that we were missing teeth.

Here’s a recent picture of Stacey, me, Lisa, and Mark (Stacey’s husband- who is ridiculously tall. I stand up to about his belly button. Sorry Mark, if you are sensitive about your height. I’m actually just short… and sensitive about it too, so don’t make fun of me.)

Stacey Lisa Mark and Hong

We met up to talk about the possibility of developing a co-housing community. More on co-housing in a minute, but first the food! Mark and Stacey treated us all to a dinner that they ordered from Chilli Padi, a Malaysian restaurant in the Oakland Chinatown area. We had the dry black pepper short-ribs; shrimp chao-fun (char kway teow), basil chicken and roti canai. Everything we’ve tried from Chilli Padi has been delicious! We haven’t been disappointed once with any of the dishes here after three meals. I wish I had taken some close up pictures of the food… But that just means you should go to Chilli Padi and try the food yourself!

Dinner setting- chili padi

After dinner, we talked about co-housing! Since we are all looking into housing options and housing in the Bay Area is ridiculously expensive, Stacey thought of the ingenious idea of developing our own co-housing community! She even put together a presentation for us! Below are snippets from the presentation:

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After the presentation, we discussed our “non-negotiables” for our community, addressed some questions, and discussed next steps. On Saturday April 30th, the group went to check out some co-housing communities in the area. I was not able to come since I had classes all day on Saturdays. The plan is to develop the community in about 2 years.

The next step for Jesse and me is to get pre-approved for a loan! We have some big decisions ahead of us! Anyone have any recommendations and/ or advice for us about co-housing, please do chime in!

Just for fun- below is the penguin shrine that Mark and Stacey set up for good luck for the Warriors! Soooo cute!

Penguine shrine

Brunch- Best meal of the Day!

Wow it’s May already! How did that happen?! Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!!!

I’m excited to share with you my “La Note style” rosemary-garlic home-fries recipe since I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. La Note Restaurant Provencal is my favorite brunch place in Berkeley and their rosemary-garlic home-fries are delicious!  Tip for eating at La Note: go super early! I went here for my last birthday. Because we had a larger group (6 people) and we arrived at 9 AM, we had to wait 2 hours to get seated. Needless to say, by the time we got our food, Hongry had already turned into Hangry. After a couple of mimosas though, all was good again.

A couple of weeks ago, I made brunch and shared it with my long time friend and mentor, Kirk. I met Kirk at an after school mentorship program when I was a freshman in high school and Kirk was one of the mentors. My favorite memory with Kirk: When we went to Stinson beach in his spanking new SAAB and both got super dizzy on the windy mountain roads.

Here’s the brunch that we shared under the gazebo in my backyard. It was a perfect day to have brunch out in the garden. Here is what we had in the picture below: bacon, poached pears, blueberry pancakes, fruit salad, waffles, rosemary garlic home fries, soft(ish) boiled eggs, mimosa.

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So, onto the home fries recipe- first thing first: the potatoes. I first cleaned the potatoes, cut them into cubes and boiled them for 6-7 minutes. Then drained them in a drainer.

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Then I put them on a baking pan and seasoned them with minced garlic, whole garlic cloves, rosemary, fresh black peppers, olive oil, a little sprinkle of garlic salt and what my fiance, Jesse, calls “bomb a$$ seasoning” (a.k.a. Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning). I know… but don’t judge. This creole seasoning and he go way back to college days!

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After mixing the potatoes and the seasoning, I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

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I also made waffles and blueberry pancakes. I heard that leaving the batter in the fridge over night makes it taste better, but I couldn’t really tell the difference.

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I had to make 2 different batter batches for the waffles and for the pancakes.

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The waffles turned out well, but didn’t stay crispy the whole time… Anyone knows any tips for making “crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside” waffles? If so, please share in the comment section below.

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The pancake was a little harder to make with the blueberries.

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And they turned out okay, but not as fluffy and creamy as I wanted. Any tips for making fluffy blueberry pancakes?

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For the fruit salad, I roasted some coconut flakes and almonds slices and mixed them in with the fruits.

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I used the fruits salad and whip cream as my pancake toppings.

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I also tried to make soft boiled eggs but they turned out over cooked. Apparently, soft boiled eggs are a lot harder to make than I thought.

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Here is a picture of us cheering to friendship, good food and good weather!

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#IWokeUpLikeThis #NoMakeup #NoFilter…

#InsertEyeRollingEmojiHere   eye rolling emoji

Anyhow, please give me tips on how to improve my waffles, pancakes, and soft-boil eggs (or my brunch in general)

 

 

7 Wonders of the World

Today I won’t be talking about hiking or food or arts & crafts.  Today is about board games. NO, WAIT! Don’t click off the screen yet. Like many others the only board games I played for a while were the classics like Monopoly and Clue. Eventually, I transitioned into party games like Taboo and Pictionary (which are still amazing). But now, I’ve discovered strategy board games. The first one I played was Settlers of Catan with Eddie and Deise, which is a gateway game into the realm. Since then it’s been games like Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Game of Thrones, etc.

Recently, we hung out with one of my regular gaming buddies, Pete Johnson (pj20), Jesse’s friend and former classmate at UCSB. They were both financial math majors and sports management minors.

One of my favorite memories with Pete is our head to head competition at Broomball.  Pete is often on the opposing team while I play goalie.  I have been able to stop him on many point blank shots, though he does his best impression of Joe Thornton by passing to his buddy Ryan Giesen who has scored on me a few too many times.

7 Wonders

We were originally introduced to the game 7 Wonders by my maid of honor Le (Bunny) Bui (my favorite person to play games with!) and her fiance Chuong (Chunky Monkey) Quach.  However Pete discovered a new 2 player version of the game called 7 Wonders Duel.

The object of the game is to build up your city by first collecting resources and coins. Using these resources and coins, you can then build wonders as well as military, science, city improvements, and guilds to score points.  

To start the game, players take turns choosing the wonders they can build.  The wonders provide a combination of resources, coins, victory points, bonus turns, and other special abilities.  They help to guide your strategy for the game.

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Pete seems happy enough with his wonders.

After picking wonders, the first of three rounds begins.  The cards are set up in the pyramid seen below, with some cards face up and some face down.  The cards in the front row are the only ones that can be chosen and players take turns selecting them and either building them by paying the cost, using them to build a wonder, or discarding them for extra coins.  Once a face down card becomes uncovered, it is flipped over and available for selection.  This creates an element of randomness and forces players to take chances.

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The second and third rounds proceed in similar fashion with different setups and more expensive and valuable cards to choose from.  As long as nobody wins on sudden military victory (by pushing the military token all the way to the end of the two way scale) or scientific victory (by collecting 6 different types of science), then the points are tallied and the player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

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Buster Pawsy likes to play too, but he’s not very good at board games.

I’d love to hear what other board games people are into.  If you’re not a gamer, hopefully this sparked your interest in becoming one!

 

Santa Barbara Adventure

Hello beautiful people!

I am excited to share this post with you about adventuring in Santa Barbara with a couple of our good friends, Eddie and Deise, who are Jesse’s college friends from UC Santa Barbara and are currently Goleta residents. Go Gauchos!

Favorite memory of us: E&D Wedding in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. We spent a week going on day trips to the city of Guanajuato, where they have an amazing mummy museum, the beautiful town of San Miguel de Allende, as well as tequila tasting in Tequila.  The best part of course was a super fun wedding which featured a live band that brought Optimus Prime to serve Tequita shots through a tube, as well as a clown that made balloon figures, and much more.

We recently visited Eddie and Deise on our Spring Break and I wanted to share a little bit of our adventure.

We started a new tradition on the previous trip of doing a hike every time we visit E&D. The first time, we and a few other Gauchos friends planned to go on a 3-4 mile hike, but because we couldn’t find the trail that we were looking for, we ended up hiking for about 10 miles.

On this past hiking trip we swore we wouldn’t repeat our hiking misadventure.  Our goal was to find a “heart-shaped rock” on Cold Spring Trail, which in our minds was a big rock that is naturally shaped like a heart. The hike was supposed to be only about 5 miles total. However… we did it again!  Hiked for about 3-4 hours and too many miles until we could barely walk any more!

I think this picture was taken before we realized that we were lost…

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After about 2 hours and still no heart-shaped rock in sight.

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Consolation prize- eucalyptus tree overlooking the gorgeous city.

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This is the actual heart-shaped rocks that we were looking for. I guess we didn’t miss much!

Heart shaped rocks

After the hike, we were sweaty and sticky but were too hungry to shower before lunch. We headed straight to East Beach Tacos and got some delicious tacos, which we stuffed our faces with too quickly and forgot to take pictures.  This tacos shack had all different types of tacos, from regular ones like carne asada and spicy shrimp to korean short rib and ahi tuna tacos. We heard that their ceviche was delicious as well, but they ran out of it at that time (around 2:30 – 3 PM), which goes to show that it must have been good!

On our previous visit, we did some wine testing as well in an area called Funk Zone.  A few of the wineries we went to include Orellana, Santa Barbara Winery and Municipal.  It’s a great experience, convenient and easy to walk around to wineries and take public transportation back home. Here’s a picture of us at of the tastings.

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THE MAIN TAKEAWAYS:

  1. You should visit Santa Barbara!  It is a beautiful city with delicious food and a fun environment for people of all ages.
  2. When you visit Santa Barbara, don’t miss the opportunity to go hiking in the mountains!  The views of the ocean and surrounding areas are fantastic.
  3. When you go hiking, try to stay on the correct trail and not make the same mistake as us and end up hiking for hours and hours.