Saturday, March 13, 2021

Winter 2020 - First Busy Season at Home

Another winter, another busy season. I've just wrapped up my 11th busy season at work, what a contrast this busy season had been as compared to the last year. We've officially completed a full year of working from home (or living at work) and I'm certainly not complaining. Who needs to go into an office when we can get work done efficiently with technology. But still, I'm hopeful that work travel will return some day. As uneventful as this winter had been working 14 hours work days at home, I'll still continue my quarterly updates to unload my phone photos.

2020 fashion. Btw, I still don't understand why people are even debating about wearing a mask in this country. So hard meh?

Jan 24 (Sun): Celebrated Christmas one month late with a simple gift exchange. Thanks SIL for the I <3 Spreadsheets mug...lol!

Feb 11 (Thurs): Virtual CNY celebration with the family. Malaysia is also under 'lockdown' so CNY celebration is only with immediate family this year.

Some other non-celebrations - 7th wedding anniversary, New Year, 10th work anniversary, and Valentine's day.

Hubby was on a shopping spree for his 'toys', while I had fun shopping for masks.

Received some fun goodies from the boss and the firm. 

Feb 17 (Wed): It has been a few years since we had so much snow here!

This is absolutely random and totally none of my business, but the New Year was off to a great start thanks to the dating news of this lovely Binjin couple. I'm not usually into celebrity gossips but this pair is one that I'm genuinely happy and rooting for since CLOY last year.


And...on to my weekly meal prep photo collection...

Dec 20 & 27 (Sun): Char siu ham, deviled eggs, stir-fry veggie, potato salad, fried rice with hot dog, pasta with meatballs.

Jan 3 & 10 (Sun): Chow mien with baked chicken, deviled eggs, egg sandwich, stir-fry veggie, potato salad, seafood soup with mussels, pasta and meatball.

Jan 17 & 24 (Sun): Braised chicken drumsticks, deviled eggs, stir-fry veggies, potatoes and meatballs, chow mien, mushroom sauce marinated pork.

Jan 31 & Feb 7 (Sun): Chicken rice, pasta and meatballs, stir-fry veggies, pan fried pork, garlic and lime soup with veggie and mussels.

Feb 14 & 21 (Sun): Lu Rou Fan, pasta with meatballs, garlic and lime soup with mussels, hot dog and veggies.

Feb 28 & Mar 7 (Sun): Baked chicken, potato salad, pasta and meatballs, baked pork, chow mien, stir-fry veggies.

Twincredibles at 23-25 months. Getting cheekier!

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. =)  

Work


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. 


Travel

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


Family


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.


Health


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 diagram....lol!

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 nerd...lol!

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!