Vestavia Hills Library

Vestavia Hills Library

One of Lance and my favorite activities to do together is read.  We love reading and we love reading together.  But along with reading comes our habit of buying books.  In the past we were pretty good about buying only cheap or used books, but still, buying books gets expensive.  So thankfully, we discovered the library! (Yeah, I know. Why didn’t we think of that earlier??! We’ve been thinking the same thing!)

Anyway, we applied for our Jefferson County library cards and our lives have been changed forever. Okay. Maybe that was a little overdramatic, but it has changed our lifestyle. Our library card gives us access to 40 different libraries, so we can pretty much get any book we want. Sometimes we have to wait, but it’s well worth it.

Vestavia Hills Library, also named the Library in the Forest, is our base library.  Any time we request a book, it gets sent there and all we need to do is drive down the road to pick it up.  I love our library.  It’s literally in the woods and even has a hiking trail behind it.  It has a handful of different reading spaces including a fireplace area, an outdoor courtyard and a cantilevered porch.  It’s beautiful.  The building’s even LEED accredited which makes my architect heart melt.

The library really has improved our lifestyle.  We read more and enjoy all the different amenities our libraries offer.  Books make your life better. Read a book!

p.s. When I pick up my books on hold they’re labeled “Mega Hand”. heehee. I love it.
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Vestavia Hills Library, the Library in the Forest, Birmingham, AL. April 8, 2015 | Fuji x100s

Asian in Alabama

1427 birmingham botanical gardens

Racism in the south.  I have to admit it’s not as bad as I thought– think Civil Rights Movement in Alabama in the present age.  I’m not getting beaten up. No one’s calling me racial slurs.*  Don’t get me wrong; racism is alive here, but I might have freaked out about to what extent.   There’s plenty of ignorance here in Alabama and the south and even in California, but living here these pasts months opened up a whole new world to me.  I’ve been exposed to more ignorance and racist comments than I ever did in California, but it’s taught me how I can be more accepting of people.

Recently on social media I’ve heard a lot of “racism doesn’t exist anymore”.  And it saddens me that people don’t understand that ignorance and “subtle” racism still is racism.  We may be better off than 50 years ago, but we’re still not at a good point where everyone is actually treated equally.  Living in the south made me realize how a lack of diversity really clouds one’s reality of the world.  In California, people are vastly more exposed to other people of different backgrounds and cultures.  But even now I’m learning that even in California some people are completely incapable understanding the concept of prejudice and racism.  It’s just not okay make to assumptions about people based on their race or cultural background, no matter how “positive” you think your comments are.  I could make a whole long list of things people have said to me that was offensive but were said innocently out of complete and utter ignorance. The point is, though, they made those gross assumptions about me because I was Asian without knowing me at all.

I realize that the misconception is everywhere.  There’s a great divide between an racism/ignorance and the truth.  And that’s not exclusive to minorities.  I’m rambling, but the bottom-line is, take the time to get to know someone.  Please don’t assume you know anything about someone because you once met someone of that same race.



*Granted, I’m Asian and part of the “model minority” so even my experiences are hugely skewed compared to other minorities. I have it relative “easy” compared to other people.



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For the past three years my friend Gabe has organized an annual trip for all of our college friends.  Our past trips took us to Lake Tahoe.  This past year we went to Yosemite!  After all those years living in California, it was only my second time visiting Yosemite.  Like always, it was loads of fun. Gabe and James organized a huge cabin in the woods for us.  It was beautiful.  After settling in we spent the next day hiking through Yosemite.  I couldn’t tell you where we went, but I loved the views.

I can’t to go back and do some real hiking!

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the book report 3

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One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Ha. I love this author. Jonathan Tropper has the kind of humor I love, witty, sad and self-deprecating. One Last Thing Before I Go follows Drew, a washed-up divorcee with a life falling apart, in a last ditch effort to bring meaning to his life.  Like This Is Where I Leave You, I loved it from the very beginning and was sad to finish it up.

I’d recommend this to anyone who’s a screw up or wants to have a good laugh.

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Lance and I were walking the aisles of Barnes & Nobles, as we often do, when it jumped out at me. A 50% off sticker! There it was on the cover of Lizzy & Jane.  I almost thought it was a mistake. We’d just gotten married and already decided to limit our book buying, but Lance could not deny the deal I’d just found.  I’d been wanting to read both of Katherine Reay’s books (the other being Dear Mr. Knightley).  (Sidenote: I’m a sucker for their cover art. I love it. And I love that the two books match.) I’d even just listened to a podcast interview with her.  So how fortuitous it was that I stumbled upon this 50% discount!  Of course I bought this book and read it.  It’s a hefty bit of a book.  The characters, Lizzy & Jane, are much like their Austenian counterparts.  Lizzy being strong willed and passionate; Jane being reserved and responsible.  It chronicles the struggles of two sisters torn apart by their mother’s death and thrown back together by Lizzy’s career funk & Jane’s own battle with cancer.

This one, at times, was difficult for me to read being so close to my own experiences losing my mother to cancer and watching how each of my siblings dealt with her death differently.  Thankfully, we all pulled together, and I think became closer, unlike Lizzy & Jane, but I digress.  This like many other chick/young adult fictions is fairly predictable but I enjoyed the how Reay painted Lizzy & Jane’s relationship, the colorful characters and the delicious foods in her writing. (Lizzy’s a chef.) I loved all the reference to Austen novels.

I’d recommend this to anyone with a sister and a sucker for Austen. 

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
Overrated?  I bought this with caution. Actually, that’s why I bought the cheap trade paper version. I was so unsure of Bossypants. It has so much hype I was afraid I’d hate it just because everyone loved it.  But, Ali gave it rave reviews, noting it made her laugh out loud and that she’s read it more than once.  So I gave it a go. I painfully read the introduction, cringing at jokes I just didn’t think were funny.  I read on, determined to give it a chance.  Lo and behold, Ali was completely right. Again, Ali was spot on with her book recommendation.  I literally laughed out loud reading through Bossypants.  I love Bossypants’ humor afterall.  It was hilarious.  But aside from its humorous aspects, Bossypants is a book of empowered women in a man’s world, of women building each other up and doing whatever the bananas they want… and having faith in yourself to see something through.  That was a pretty cheesy summary of her book, but seriously, Tina Fey does not fail. Read this book.

I recommend this to anyone who needs a laugh, likes to laugh and/or loves an underdog. 

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Read my other book reports and check out all the books I’ve read over the years.




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obsessing over the library. I’m definitely a hoarder.  I have 23 books checked out. woops

recovering from my trip to california and an injured hand.

packing for Lance and my trip to Virginia for our friends’ wedding.  We’re so excited!

eating a lot of arugula.

reading A Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes.  I just can’t get enough of her books.  They’re soooo good.

watching the Walking Dead.  I watched the most recent season, then decided to watch the whole series.  I’m on Season 4 now.  And I love Glen & Darryl.

sleeping at regular hours again.

dreaming of my next international trip, which will likely be my honeymoon with Lance! I can’t wait.

feeling overjoyed. I love my life.  I love it all.  I have so much to be happy about and thankful for, and it’s all thanks to God.

missing my family!

listening to our wedding playlist. woot.

craving Boba Guys. What can I say? I’m obsessed!

editing an epic wedding in LA!


Vestavia Hills Library, The Library in the Forest. April 13, 2015 | Fuji x100s



1423 california

Oh man. I just returned from California a week ago, and I’m so pooped!  My trip was non-stop working, and I barely had time to spend with anyone.  In the future I know not to pack in so many shoots.

It’d only been three and a half months since I lived in California, but bits of my return already felt so foreign to me.  I was immediately tired by the busyness of my old life and the long rides to everything.  I felt like such a stranger in a place I called home just a few months ago.  But it was such a good trip nonetheless.  I loved going back to visit family, especially my new little niece.  But ultimately I was on a mission to eat!!! And eat I did!!

Here are some of the yummy things I ate:

Shabu Shabu. I’ve been craving shabu shabu.  It’s essentially Japanese hot pot, where there’s a pot of soup/water that you cook your raw yummies (veggies, meats, noodles…etc.) in.  I thought I’d go to my normal go-to in San Ramon, so then I could follow it up with Snowflake (shaved iced). But Christina suggested a really good shabu shabu place after our styled shoot, so I thought “Why not?”  We went to Nabe in the Inner Richmond in San Francisco, and Christina liked it because at the end of our meal, they serve conji (or jook as I call it) from the leftover soup.  The fixins were fresh and everything we ate was delicious.  We started with kimchi tofu, and I ended up ordering the Shabu Shabu platter with steak in spicy miso.  We followed that up with the jook, which was really, really good.  Then finished up with a mochi cake (like tei or nin go in Chinese food) and red bean ice cream.  Everything was relatively cheap, considering how expensive shabu shabu normally is and how much food we had.  I’d definitely recommend this. Definitely.

Boba. How could I go back to the bay area and not have boba, especially Boba Guys??!! My first full day in California I went to get Boba Guys.  I always get the Lychee Green Tea slow milk tea with boba.  I was tempted to buy two because they don’t sell any large sizes, but I resisted.  Like I’ve said before, Boba Guys is my absolutely favorite boba place.  I went to their shop downtown on Stockton, which I hear makes better boba.  But who knows? A few days later I went to the chain, Quickly, to get my Almond Snow with boba.  It doesn’t compare to some of my favorite boba places, but I still love it.  I, of course, got a large.  Then to round off my boba cravings I went to my second favorite boba place, Tea Era.  Located in the Cupertino area, I asked/convinced/begged Alison to take me there when my Dad & visited them.  I’ve realized my favorite is the peach milk tea with almond pudding, lychee jelly and boba.  Again, I ordered a large.  It was sooooo good.

Sushi. Birmingham does have sushi, but there’s not a lot of fresh sushi options nor affordable prices…. and the servings are really small to further disappoint me.  So my dear sister, Meredith, took me to our local sushi restaurant, Rock n Roll Sushi.  We ate the A’s roll (my favorite), the Hamachi Lover (another one of my favorites) and Kevin’s Rock and Roll. It was soooo good.  I was so happy after I ate this.

Vietnamese Food. I’m not sure the restaurant we ate at or what I exactly ate, but it was delicious.  I had a Bun dish, which is not actually a “bun” but a cold noodle dish with vegetables, meats and fish sauce.  There were several mystery meats in my bun, but it was all yummy.

Sashimi and Rice. Like I mentioned about the sushi, there’s not much fresh sashimi/sushi in Birmingham.  So while I was in the city shooting, I snuck into Bamboo and had a quick sashimi and rice bowl.  This is one of my go-to places to eat when I’m running around downtown San Francisco.

Hawaiian Food. Lance and I bought my family Hawaiian food the night before we left California.  We had a feast!! My sister, Terrysue, asked what I wanted to eat for our birthday celebrations, and I picked hawaiian food.  I can’t find hawaiian food anywhere here, so eating it in California was such a luxury.  Please wait a sec while I drool.

So I’m curious… if you moved out of state, like me, which foods and restaurants would you crave from California?!


Santa Cruz. December 29, 2014 | Fuji x100s


the book report 2

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The Room by Jonas Karlsson
I’ll admit that I chose this book based on it’s cover having no idea what it was about. When I started reading I was immediately intrigued. Bjorn has just transferred to a new job when the story behinds.  He’s navigating his department’s social hierarchy (ultimately deciding he’s superior to his peers in every way) when he stumbles on a curious room.  He finds relief and heightened efficiency in his work in this room, but the book continues as his reality of the room clashes with his coworkers.  At some point I started to wonder whether his stark confidence was based on reality or if he was just completely delusional.

The Room is complex and smart and a wonderful departure from some of the books I normally read. I loved how Karlsson leads you through the book believing one thing and slowly makes you question everything you’ve just read.  The Room blurred the line between reality and dream-life and explored the extent to which ones goes to escape the stresses of life.  What would you do to escape?

I’d recommend this to anyone who’s ever worked in a cubicle and felt like the guy in Office Space.   

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Read my other book reports and check out all the books I’ve read over the years.



*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.