Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Made It Through 2020, Bring It On 2021

What a year 2020 has been! When I was writing my year-end recap post last year, I certainly wasn't expecting the start of this new decade to be so 'extraordinary'. Many will say that 2020 is the worst year ever, but personally, 2020 has been an okay year for us, apart from the fact that all our travel plans were cancelled. Reading back what I wrote last year..."Looking forward to a smooth 2020 with more successes (especially at work) and more adventures with hubby!!", I'd say we did at least accomplish the first half of the goal, and for that, I am thankful.

P.S. I don't want to sound tone-death to all things going on in the world this year but every cloud has a silver lining, which is why I choose to focus on the positives for my 2020 recap. =)  


Fortunately, both our jobs were not impacted by Covid. In fact, we got a promotion, pay raises and bonuses this year, which we are extremely thankful for. For me, 2020 was a complete 360 of 2019. I guess the 'reward' for a stressful uphill climb in 2019 was an easy downhill stroll in 2020. Busy season was still hectic with many late nights but it was nice to have a good boss and team members who were willing to put in the hard work and get to the finish line together. Working from home was awesome as always and I enjoyed a slow/no-stress post-busy season, working on projects that I enjoyed. 

As for hubby, his work was busier than ever because his company started testing for Covid. It's funny how the tables have turned for us. Instead of me either traveling out of town for work or returning from home past midnight, hubby was the one working late this year. 


Covid Cancellations

Those who know me will know how much I enjoy traveling, be it for work or leisure, so this year was a total bummer for me. However, I'd say I got very lucky with work travels because I volunteered for 8 consecutive weeks of work travel to Tampa at the beginning of the year and traveled as much as I possibly could before the world started locking down and the company suspended all work travels.

Summary of my travels for 2020 (work):
  • Number of hotel nights - 45 nights (Marriott)
  • Number of hotels - 4 hotels (Marriott) 
  • Number of airlines - 2 airlines (Delta, American Airlines)
  • Number of rental cars - 48 rental days (National/Enterprise)
Like many others, all our leisure trips this year were cancelled. As such, I consider 2020 "The Cancelled Year". Thankfully, all our points and miles were redeposited and all fees were fully refunded without any issue. The silver lining of all these is the extension of statuses, points/miles/award night expiry, and credit card benefits for non-travel spend. 

Summary of travel cancellations for 2020 (leisure):
  • Number of trips cancelled - 3 (Carolinas, Japan/Alaska/M'sia, Seattle/Glacier National Park/Canada)
  • Number of flights cancelled - 15 bookings
  • Number of hotels cancelled - 10 reservations


This year had been challenging for many people not being able to see their families, but I've spent the last 6 years staying in touch with my family virtually so I've kinda gotten used to it.

I'll shamelessly pat myself on the back for a 20/20 hindsight of 2020, pun intended. Looking back at 2019, I'm thankful that all the trips we took in 2019 were focused on spending time with families. It was my first time traveling back to Malaysia twice within the same year, and hubby also traveled back together with me on the second trip. Looking back now, I'm sure glad we made that decision. In a weird way, those 2 trips made up for the lost time this year. 

The Hawaii trip with my parents in Dec 2019 was another good decision in hindsight. Apart from allowing us to spend time with my parents, it was also the last vacation we had before the world went into lockdown.

K-dramas / Blogging / Passion Projects

2020 hasn't been a good year for the world but thankfully this has been a great 'dramatic' year for K-dramas. Starting with Crash Landing On You in March, I've completed a few rounds of binge-watch marathons over the past few months, and unexpectedly gathered some valuable lessons and self-reflections along the way. All thanks to the well-written scripts / storylines and high quality production of K-dramas.

Since we didn't travel anywhere this year and I have no trip reports or photos to work on, I was able to catch up on some of the blog backlogs that I've been sitting on for 2 years, making this a more productive year for both my blogs in terms of non-travel related contents: 

Backlogs since 2018:

K-drama inspired posts:

Covid-related posts:

Work-related posts:

As mentioned earlier, I've been able to spend more time on work projects that I'm passionate about. I was glad to find the "Learn Google Spreadsheets" Youtube channel and have enjoyed learning a lot more about Google Sheets, including google queries, and building dashboards, all of which have been useful for project management and data analysis...projects my nerdy self is interested in. Overall, 2020 has been a fulfilling year for me as I was able to balance both consuming and creating contents.


I'll be honest, I've been slacking on exercising. I was motivated for probably a month or so only. =P However, we've been able to stay healthy by eating healthy and staying home as much as possible, avoiding pretty much all social interactions apart from grocery shopping. 

And that's a wrap for 2020. Not a good year for most but still lots to be thankful for. Let's stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of each other. Sincerely hope that 2021 will be a better year for the world, and definitely hope that we will be able to travel some next year.  

Happy New Year 2021!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Fall 2020 - Still Staying Home

Another quarter has flown by and it's hard to believe that 2020 is almost coming to an end. In a Covid-free world, we would have spent a week in Japan and traveled back to the US in JAL First Class this month but obviously none of these are happening. We're 9 months into the pandemic and despite the number of cases spiking to all time high in the US, it feels like nobody cares anymore. While most people are suffering from 'quarantine fatigue', I am perfectly fine staying home with minimal social interaction. I still get my daily dose of virtual interaction with my co-workers and family so don't worry, I'm not completely isolated. =P 

Fall 2020 came and left quickly

As I mentioned previously, our life hasn't been impacted much by the pandemic. The few minor adjustments we made to our routine since March - Grocery shopping with only recyclable bags to avoid using shopping cart or basket, stocking up when things are on sale, used free grocery delivery for limited stock items (e.g. disinfecting wipes) and non-perishables / heavy items, use gloves at gas station. As an added bonus, I received a $250 WFH payment, even though my job is already completely remote since last year.

Round 4 of Covid cancellations. 2020 is officially a 'cancelled' year for all travels. Fortunately, I was able to get all our miles/points and fees back with no penalty so it's all good. We've rebooked some trips for 2021 but keeping our bookings flexible for all uncertainties.

So what have we been up to without travels?

Oct 4 (Sun): Went fishing at MIL's pond and caught a bunch of fishes (25 crappie, 1 bass, 1 bream). I was super lucky that day and caught almost half of the crappie, while hubby caught the bass which I used to make Thai-style steamed fish with lime and garlic the next day.

Oct 12 (Mon): Hubby and I went for a short hike with MIL at Monte Sano state park. The last time I came here was back in 2008. The 2 photos at the bottom to show 2020 vs. 2008. =P

Nov 14 (Sat): Virtual celebration for mom's birthday.

Nov 22 (Sun): Thanksgiving lunch and baked cookies with the family. My first attempt of making 'char siu' was pretty successful.

Dec 13 (Sun): Christmas decorations at MIL's. 

Oct 13 (Tues): I had some free rental car days to burn before the year ends so we decided to rent a car for $3 and went on a day trip to Atlanta, specifically Ikea to pick up a shelf and made a quick stop at Super H Mart to stock up on some Asian groceries.

The new Kallax shelf we bought to display hubby's video game consoles.

Once again, we decided to move things around our work+entertainment room. So I sketched this out to make sure things fit before we started moving them around.

The end product. Right side of the room is hubby's gaming/entertainment corner, while left side of the room is my work/entertainment corner. Yes, we have many screens in this room.

My updated 2020 K-drama binge!

Went on a shopping spree the last few weeks. Got super lucky to get the very limited Xbox Series X on Walmart during the Thanksgiving release. Hubby was a happy boy. Also replaced some cooking appliances and dryer, which are both 12 years old. My work laptop was also due for a refresh so I got a brand new work laptop as well.

Speaking of work, I spent a good bit of time exploring and building stuffs with Google Sheets, formulas and queries over the last few months. I also learnt how to build Dashboards from scratch for data analysis and was glad others found it useful as well. I'm such a!

As usual, my collection of weekly meal-prep photos...

Sept 13 & 20 (Sun): Tomato soup with veggie medley, baked beans + potatoes + sausage, deviled eggs, fried rice, pasta with chicken, chow mien with tuna, egg sandwich.

Sept 27 & Oct 3 (Sun): Hokkien mee with mussels, potatoes + sausage, stir-fried veggies, deviled eggs, potato salad, chicken rice.

Oct 11 & 18 (Sun): Lu rou fan (braised pork rice), paste with meatballs, stir-fried veggies, seafood noodle soup with mussels, potatoes + sausage.

Oct 25 & Nov 1 (Sun): Steamed fish with lime and garlic, pasta with meatballs, potato salad, deviled eggs, lu rou fan.

Nov 8 & 15 (Sun): Chicken rice, chicken soup, deviled eggs, pasta + hot dog, stir-fried veggies, chow mien with mussels, pasta with meatballs, potato salad.

Nov 22 & 28 (Sun): Char siu (chinese bbq pork) with rice, stir-fried veggies, deviled eggs, Lu rou fan, potato salad, chow mien with hot dog.

Dec 6 & 13 (Sun): Ee fu mee (noodles with seafood and egg gravy), pasta with meatballs, stir-fried veggies, deviled eggs, potatoes + sausage, chicken rice.

Twincredibles at 20-22 months. Terrible two is coming soon! 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Stay Home Summer 2020

Now that we're 6 months into the pandemic, it feels like most of the world have somewhat adjusted to the new normal of mask wearing, social distancing, and international travel bans. It's unfortunate that the situation in the US hasn't gotten any better, and most places have already started opening up as if the pandemic is over. Oh well, since we can't control others' behaviour, all we can do is to control what we can control and stay home as much as possible. We were supposed to travel to Malaysia, Japan and Canada this summer but obviously all trips were cancelled/postponed. 

2020 'fashion'. Apart from grocery shopping and a trip to the DMV to renew my driver license, I really haven't gone anywhere public in the past 6 months. For grocery shopping, I've cut it down from once a week to once every 10 days, and going at 7am in the morning to avoid people.

As for work, I continue working from home and have enjoyed a slow and no-stress summer. I'm also glad to finally have time to explore google sheets and project management, which is something I enjoy. As for hubby, he doesn't have the luxury of working from home because he is an 'essential' worker. :P He is working even more now that his company is testing Covid and developing an antibody test (as modeled by Franklin, our sloth buddy).

2020 has been an interesting year indeed...what was originally a 2-week office shut down has lasted for 6 months with no end in sight. We have reached the point where nobody bothers dressing up for work calls anymore, and having 'mini' co-workers make appearances on the calls occasionally. 

Thankful for a promotion + pay raise + bonus when unemployment is at all time high.

Round 3 of Covid cancellations. 2020 is trending well to be the 'cancelled' year but family celebrations are not cancelled...

June 21 (Sun): Celebrated MIL's birthday with home-cooked meals and pool time at MIL's.

Aug 1 & 15 (Sat): Virtual celebration with families in Malaysia for dad and grandma's birthdays.

Aug 15 (Sat): Twin bro, hubby, and my birthdays with families in the US and Malaysia. Thanks MIL for our birthday presents! :) 

Hubby bought a new 4K TV. Our work+entertainment room is now 'upgraded' with 2 TVs and I love it! One for his video game, one for my Kdramas. 

This stay at home summer has given me more time to catch up on all the Kdramas that I've missed over the years. I've been going down the binge-watching rabbit hole for the past 6 months. Obviously I've been enjoying myself a lil' too much to come up with this ridiculous! This is what happens when real vacation is cancelled and I'm forced to home-cation to burn my vacation hours.

I.AM.IN.TROUBLE. Uniqlo was having sales all summer and the deals are so good that I ended up stocking up probably 10 years worth of clothes. My wardrobe has officially been taken over by Uniqlo. 

As weekly meal prep routine:

June 21 & 28 (Sun): Baked chicken, stir -fry veggies, sausage+potato+baked beans, potato salad.

Jul 5 & 12 (Sun): Lu Rou Fan, paste and meatball, veggie soup, devil's egg, baked chicken, mui fan.

Jul 19 & 26 (Sun): Tomyum soup noodles with mussels & veggies, potato and sausage, stir-fry veggies, braised chicken with mushrooms, potato salad. 

Aug 2 & 9 (Sun): Veggie soup, pasta and meatball, egg sandwich, devil's egg, tomato soup with mixed veggies, chicken rice, stir-fry veggies.

Aug 16 & 23 (Sun): Tomato soup with mussels and mixed veggies, egg sandwich, sausage and potatoes, stir-fry veggies.

Aug 30 & Sept 6 (Sun): Chicken rice, veggie soup, stir-fry veggies, devil's egg, mussels and veggie soup, meatball and pasta, onion fry egg.

Seems like many people around us (including all our siblings) are either buying or selling house lately. Here's our family saying goodbye to our house and my room where I spent my high school years in. 
Twincredibles at 17-19 months. As you can see, my niece has learnt how to give me a side!

Nieces and nephew with their funny antics.