Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rice, Rice Baby

I meant to post this a while back but here goes.

I love rice.  So much so that I buy it in bulk.  You know, those huge, ginormous 20 lb bags of rice?  You know what I'm talking about.  In fact,  you might even have one of those in your food storage.  If so, why don't you go run and pick one up.  Just hold it in your arms.  It's okay, I'll wait right here while you do it......

Did you do it?  Did you go lift it up in your arms?  Those are heavy, right?  WELL THAT'S HOW MUCH WEIGHT I'VE LOST!  Booyah.

Rice, rice, baby!


PS. As of today I've actually lost 22 lbs.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Do you ever have times in your life where you just feel like everything is balanced and good? I feel that way right now. I haven't felt this way in years.

I have been running 3-4 times a week. This may not be much to others but to me this has been a change in my life. I have spent the last few years being very sedentary. It feels good to be up and moving, which of course is a big part of my weight loss success.

I have not been the best scripture studier over the years. Right now while serving in Young Womens I am attempting to do the personal progress program with the girls, especially since I
never finished it when I was a young woman. Part of the program is reading the Book of Mormon in its entirety. I am trying to get it done before I move into another ward in November when we can move into our new house. This means I am covering several chapters a day, every day. Reading it this way has helped me to not only notice the spiritually uplifting verses here and there but to also remember the story line and the people in the scriptures, their family situations and their struggles against opposition and who is trying to kill them at the moment. It has reignited my love of the Book of Mormon and reconnected me to the wonderful people in the past who stood for truth and righteousness.

When I was in school, I really enjoyed it. I love to learn. But there is no more school for me, which I'm kind of glad about too. However, I have found joy in teaching! Over the past year we have been doing a great preschool program for Kien. Miss Rebecca wanted to start up a free one where she invited kids from the neighborhood to participate. She taught the class and the parents took turns hosting and providing the snacks. I really got into it and helped out and had fun with it. I even took a couple turns teaching. We covered the entire alphabet and our numbers 1-10. Then Miss Rebecca had a baby and needed a break from teaching. So I stepped up and offered to do a section on ZOOLOGY! Is that a little too much for 3 and 4 year olds??? We had a class on Fish and then yesterday we had a class on Amphibians. It has been so much fun and I am enjoying finding creative outlets that I can share with Kien and his buddies.

I have also had so much fun teaching things to the Young Women on Mutual night. Here are some things I've taught them:
  • Cooking Vietnamese Egg Rolls
  • Cake Decorating
  • Hula Dancing
  • Self Defense
  • Next Week: Knitting baby hats for NICU
I am going to brag a little bit right here... After realizing all the skills and talents I could pass onto the Young Women, I've been able to recognize how awesome I am. Haha.... It has just made me recognize that I have valuable and unique talents. Which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I have a good life. I have a good family. I am so thankful for my husband, Bret, and my wonderful children, Kien and Ellie. They are the people who most often put smiles on my face. I don't know why but lately Bret has made more of an effort to compliment my cooking. I appreciate that. He has also given me support and encouragement with me trying to lose weight. He is always willing to watch the kids while I go do what I need to do (except on Saturday mornings, that is his basketball time and NOTHING can interfere with it).

Kien is getting funnier and funnier with his questions and naive logic. The other day he was looking at Ellie and asked me "Mom, where'd we get this baby from?"
I said "Well she grew in my belly but Heavenly Father gave her to us."
He thought about that for a moment then asked, "Heavenly Father was at the hospital?"

So. Cute.

Ellie... *sigh*. She is the sweetest and most precious little lady. She is happiest after waking up from a long sleep. And she sleeps A LOT. All night long, usually about 10-11 hours and then two 2-hour long naps during the day. I love it. She loves to play with Kien in her room with all their toys. She loves to follow him around but if he gets rough she won't take his gruff and she will fight back! She loves baths. She loves her pink fuzzy blanket that Grandma Thulan gave to her. I think it has become her security blanket. She is full of smiles and laughs and cute little noises.

Speaking of which, I hear her calling me from her crib so I am off.

I just wanted to record this, that everything is good and balanced in my life right now. And I love it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smaller Jeans

About a year ago there was an Enrichment night for Relief Society where someone spoke to us about being more organized. She gave great tips on how to get the clutter out of your life. Something she said about clothes was that if you haven't worn it in the past year then get rid of it. She said if you're holding onto clothes that don't fit because you keep telling yourself that you're going to lose weight, to just toss them out. She said that most likely you will not lose the weight and never fit those clothes again.

I thought about that and I didn't like it. So I didn't listen to her.

This week I have pulled out the pants that have been too small for me to wear and now they fit me. I am so happy about that. Not only do I have more pants but it makes me feel good that I can wear them again.

I have now lost 15 lbs. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Obsessed with Cupcakes

Ever since I saw the website for The Sweet Tooth Fairy and thought to myself, "Those are ridiculously expensive" and "I could do that", I have been obsessing over making giant (muffin sized) and delicious cupcakes.

These are German Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, then coconut pecan frosting, then topped with a glazed pecan.

These are chocolate cupcakes with melted fudge in the center topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkled with crushed toffee and chocolate bits and then further topped with caramel flavored whipped cream.

These are chocolate cupcakes with melted fudge in the center topped with chocolate frosting and then further topped with mint flavored whipped cream and a refreshing Andes chocolate mint.
I have seen other websites showing cupcakes piled high with buttercream frosting but I can't handle that much frosting, it is too rich for me. So I love the idea of topping it with whipped cream to get that decadent look but still keeping it light and airy. :)

Do you want one?

Friday, August 5, 2011

So excited...

Bret and I have been working with a home builder and today we just got back our floor plan with all the changes we asked for. I am so thrilled that I am getting the house I want, just the way I want it. My favorite part is the Kitchen! I am going to feel like a star on the Food Network when I am working in there. :) I am also excited about our master bathroom. Anyways, we are so excited to be building a home and I just wanted to share our floor plan.

I had to cut off the garage a bit to make the picture fit. The stairs will lead down to an unfinished basement. I'll keep updating along the process of building.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 Down, 20 to Go

I hate to publicly talk about trying to lose weight. What if I fail? Everyone will know. I guess that's why I'm posting in my blog (where I have just a couple of readers) instead of Facebook (where I have 400 friends).

Bret often asks me what my goals are for weightloss but I am afraid to put a number on it. I want to just relish and celebrate each pound lost. If I pick a number too high and I don't reach it, I don't want to feel like a failure. So far I have lost 10 lbs and that makes me super happy (line stolen from Ni Hao Kai Lan). If I lost 20 more then I will be at my mission weight, when I first met Bret. I think I'd be pretty thrilled to be there again. It's a high number but I am going to try for it. That is all. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Smoked Salmon Spread Recipe

One Smoked Salmon Fillet (roughly 6-8 oz.)
One 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
6-8 Chive stalks, thinly sliced

Flake the salmon fillet with your fingers and then mix all ingredients well with a fork and serve with your favorite crackers. For a fancy look, garnish with tips of chive stalks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Bret shot this picture of me about a week ago when I was selling Shish-kabobs and Vietnamese Eggrolls on Saturday. Sunset Ridge was having a community yard sale but I didn't have junk to sell so I decided to sell food. It was a success and I sold all my food and made a nice profit. It was a lot of fun even though it did take a lot of time prepping all the food.
In Alaska my mom would sell Shish-kabobs. But in her Vietnamese accent she calls them Chickabaws. So that is what we call them in my little family. :) They are yummy and delicious and I was so happy when I had customers coming back for more or sending their friends my way. Good times had by all. (Especially little Kien who kept running by stealing one eggroll after another! Now I know how my mom felt when I did that to her.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Pretty Sister

There is no denying it. There is always a "Pretty Sister". That is just the way it goes. When I was a kid, Kim was the Pretty Sister. She was captain of the cheer leading team and also Homecoming Queen. Kim was beautiful throughout high school and college.

Then, of course, she got married and started having kids. It was my opportunity to steal the spot light! When I went off to college at BYU-Hawaii I ended up losing weight because I had to walk everywhere in the heat and I also became more active (not huddled up indoors all winter in Alaska). I felt like I had blossomed (yes, I just used that word) into a lovely young woman. It finally happened- I had become the Pretty Sister!

I held onto that self-proclaimed title for quite a while and relished it. I had finally stepped out from Kim's shadow. But then, of course, I got married and started having children as well. I didn't exercise like I used to and I was introduced to an endless supply of fast food in Utah which I'd never had much access to before in Alaska and Hawaii. What a horrible downfall.

The Pretty Sister title was lost in limbo. Kim and I would both have our ups and downs but neither of us out-rightly deserved the title. Until.................. Kim started exercising regularly and eating smaller portions and healthier options. Diet and exercise- who knew, right? Five months and 30 lbs later, she had taken back her title.

I am so very proud of her. She looks amazing. She knew what she had to do and she stuck to it. I am so happy for her because I know that how she is feeling right now is a great thing for her. We all want to be pretty and confident and now she has that all back. She is definitely the Pretty Sister.

But don't get too cozy, Kim. Because now you've got me motivated. So enjoy that title, that little trophy, while it lasts. I'm coming for it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family Photoshoot by Erin Fillmore

I know we're a great looking bunch anyways (haha) but Bret's sister, Erin, did an amazing job of getting some wonderful shots of our family. :)

Friday, April 29, 2011


Kien had a great time hunting for eggs at Grandma's house.

Book Signing

I recently attended the book signing up in Logan, Utah that had authors Ally Condie, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, and Jessica Day George. When I found out that the signing was the same weekend that we planned to go up north to visit family I was thrilled. This would be my first book signing ever! I have read Condie’s Matched and Dashner’s The Maze Runner along with its sequel, The Scorch Trials.

The Day we drove up was the day of the event and we ended up hitting some traffic along the way. We dropped off my family in Syracuse but my sweet mother-in-law came with me because I’d never been to Logan before and she was worried that I would get lost. We were late and I missed the presentations and most of the question and answer session but that didn’t get me down! I was still going to meet my authors when I got my books signed by them! I jumped into Dashner’s line first and when it was my turn I was beaming and blurted “I am a BIG fan!” He smiled and FIST BUMPED me! I went on to tell him that the scene in The Scorch Trials (MAJOR SPOILER HERE) where Thomas and Brenda were underground being chased by the Cranks freaked me out and really had me terrified. He told me that he loved reading Stephen King growing up and this was his first attempt at writing horror so he was glad it worked. We also discussed the character Minho. I asked if he was Asian and he said yes. He went on to tell me that the reason I couldn’t figure out who Minho was named after was because the great historical figure was in our future but in their past. Yeah, a light bulb just exploded in my head at that point. It was so great to get some insight from the author himself on a story that I love and with characters that I am attached to. Here is some fan art I made for his books (I’m a photoshop junkie):

Next was Ally Condie. I actually went to high school with Ally’s sister, Elaine. When I first read matched and saw Elaine’s name mentioned in the back of the book under “Acknowledgements” I immediately friended her on facebook and told her I loved the book. I then went on to ask her if the character Em was Asian (am I obsessed with Asians in literature or what?!) and she asked Ally and it turns out that she was. I had also made some fan art for the book and I showed them to Elaine who went on to show them to Ally. Anyways- when I met Ally to get my book signed I told her I was Elaine’s friend that asked those questions and made that fan art. She was so sweet to me and told me that she actually posted my art on her blog! I didn’t know that so I’m glad she liked it. Here are the banners if you’re curious:

I had one last line to stop in. You see, my neighbor’s daughter, Megan, is a HUGE fan of Brandon Mull. Apparently she stays up all night long reading his books. So before I left Cedar City I told her I would get her book signed by the author and she was thrilled. I went to Mull’s line and felt my heart sink to my stomach when I realized just how long his line was. I hurried and took a place at the end and watched the line continue to grow behind me. An hour went by and then another. There were several times that I contemplated leaving and just telling her ‘sorry’. There were other times where I considered forging the author’s signature and figured she would never know the difference. But then I would know the difference and I would feel bad about being dishonest. So I stuck through it and my good mother-in-law stuck by me, running out to get me food and drinks when I needed it. It had only taken me 30 minutes to get both my books signed by Condie and Dashner together. I ended up waiting in Mull’s line for FOUR HOURS! I guess I had underestimated what a big deal this guy was! When I finally did meet him he was very nice and charismatic. I told him how Megan would stay up all night reading his books and in the front he signed “Go to bed Megan!” Then he flipped to the back of the book and wrote again “Seriously Megan, GO TO BED!” We had a good laugh at that.

We ended up getting home at about 1am and while it had been a long experience I actually had a lot of fun. The people I waited in line with offered great conversation and were just good people in general. Meeting the authors and chatting with them was so much fun. I’m glad I went and would have no reservations about going to another event like this!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The School Bus

Whenever Kien hears a giant rumbling out on the street he runs to the window to check it out. It is usually either the school bus or the garbage truck. When he sees that school bus with all the kids getting on it or getting off it he is filled with longing to be able to be able to ride the school bus. He often tells me "I want to ride the school bus" and I say "Sorry Kien, you can't go to school until you go potty in the toilet." And even though he wants to go to school very badly- he still isn't willing to go potty in the toilet. But that is beside the point.

The other day after Kien had been playing in his room he came out with his backpack on and his face was scrunched up in a look of determination. He said to me in a very stern voice "Momma! I go to school! Where's the bus?!"

Too cute.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crafts with Kien

Well lucky for us, we had a house guest for a couple of weeks that went by the name of RSV. :( Needless to say, he is not welcome back in our home again. During the awful sickness that spread through each of our family members I decided to do some craft projects with Kien to keep us both busy.

First up was our Ni Hao Kai Lan project. It's a cartoon on Nick Jr. that Kien likes. On the Nick Jr. website they have a lot of different craft ideas and this was one that I've been wanting to do for a while. I probably had the page book marked for over a year. We printed out their templates, cut out the paper, then held that against the appropriate colored felt and cut out those pieces and then glued them together with fabric glue. Here is what we got:

It was fun and easy to do. Here's a link to one template, you can look around and find the other templates if you want to:
Ni Hao Kai Lan

Then we did another project where we cut out scrapbook paper to go behind these clear glass pebbles. We used modge podge to seal the paper to the glass and then again to seal the back of the paper. We added magnets to the back and now have these cute magnets on our fridge.
We also made a bunch of Valentines for everyone in our family. I just cut out some scrapbook paper and folded them over in half so that they were cards. Kien added stickers to them and then scribbled some lovely drawings on the inside. I didn't take a picture of those so you'll just have to imagine their cuteness. :)