We finalllyyyy received all of our Vietnamese wedding reception photos and (sorry, not sorry) I want to share some of the moments from one of the best days ever. 💕
We decided to have our reception almost seven months after we got officially married because of a few personal reasons. It was a little unconventional, but it ended up being perfect for us.
Vietnamese Tea Ceremony
This ceremony took place at my parent’s house. There’s a lot of symbolism in these traditions that I’ve only grown to appreciate now as I’ve become older. I never imagined doing a traditional tea ceremony, but now I am so so happy we did.
Love is in the Details
Our decorators, florists, and photographers made everything so beautiful. Michael and I also got to create and print out the seating arrangements and made our own signature cocktails for our bartenders to serve!
The Girls & The Boys
Ya’ll are the best and we had such a good time with you all by our sides.
These just make us smile so damn much.
One of our favorite traditions of having a Vietnamese reception is that we have to visit every single table to just give them a little love, a cheers, and show that we appreciated these guests for celebrating with us. The only caveat is… the younger tables typically have a game of some type that leads to a gift.
This day could not have been possible without these incredible people and vendors. They were amazing and I can’t thank them enough. 💕
I haven’t shared a recipe on here before… but this was too freaking delicious to not share!
Oh my goodness, you guys. When I made this, Michael and I were looking forward to dinner every single night we had this.
A warm, cozy bowl of rich red curry broth with fresh noodles and roasted peanuts??! Sign. Me. Up. Michael hates mushrooms, but any time I can sneak them into a meal without him really noticing is a win for me!
I am pretty sure the biggest way I show my love is by cooking and feeding others. I’m not sure why, but I feel so much happiness from sharing any sweet treats or meals that I make. And I don’t think I ever stop thinking about what to cook next and who I’m going to share my leftovers with.
Cheers to always eating good with even better company surrounding you. ❤️
On nights like this when the air is so clear, you end up saying things you ordinarily wouldn’t. Without even noticing what you’re doing, you open up your heart and just start talking to the person next to you—you talk as if you have no audience but the glittering stars, far overhead. Banana Yoshimoto
With what’s going on these days, Michael and I are definitely distancing ourselves from everyone outside of work. He’s works for the government to monitor infectious disease, bioterrorism agents, and when needed, even COVID-19. I am treating immunocompromised cancer patients with radiation at a few different hospitals. Neither of us want to risk the chance of not doing what we love, and I definitely do not want to put my patients in any more risk than they already are.
With everything going on, I’ve been reflecting a lot about us and our lives and some of the things I really really appreciate.
You all. We just reached over 100 followers on this blog, and I feel so grateful. Every single one of you who have chosen to click that follow button to join us in our adventures through our love and our life in the Pacific Northwest means a lot. Thank you for sticking along with us and sharing your stories as well.
Photography. All through my teenage years, I was always painting. I loved art so much, but it became really hard to keep it up when college started. Just a couple of years ago, I picked up the camera to just capture a few moments. Since then, my love for outdoor and food photography has grown into a creative passion that I truly can’t imagine life without anymore. After working so much since graduating, I finally bought us a brand new camera and upgraded our old one this week. Goodbye T3i, helloooo EOS-R!
Us goofing around. Michael and I are almost always messing around, wrestling with each other, having tickle fights, or even… grabbing each other’s butts. My personal favorite… his kiss attacks when I’m in a funky mood because it always somehow gets me out of it. 💙So grateful for him for always finding a way to make me smile, even when it’s really hard to.
Family. My parent’s always reaching out with concern for my health and safety and… sending me all the congress updates on how I can get student loan debt relief during this time hahah. They’re the best. Also- big s/o to my in-laws and my (basically) aunts for sewing masks for me and my coworkers in case we run out. Ya’ll are incredible!
The selfless frontline or essential workers out there who are sacrificing their health and safety right now in order to help others, and I do not mean just in the hospital. For one small example, I know a few teachers who are using this time to make sure their students are getting fed each day and given resources for education beyond the school’s means. There are soooo many stories like this. I can’t say enough words to say how absolutely incredible and heroic they are. Sending so much healing love to people like this every single day.
I know it’s tough these days. When you can, take a few moments to just reflect on the good things, even if it’s small. If what you are thinking about brings a smile to your face or makes your heart happy, do that thing a little more every day. 💙
How do you meet new people, and by chance, they will end up becoming meaningful relationships for the rest of your life? Especially when you aren’t relying on meeting others through school or work?
Well… we got so incredibly lucky with the people we have met here in Portland so far. Every time we think about the strangers that became more than that, it always blows our mind. We moved here without knowing a single soul in Oregon and we just feel grateful.
Michael and I met by a chance encounter when I stood behind him at a coffee shop. From that moment on, we’ve embraced keeping an open mind when it comes to meeting people.
Here are a few of our favorite stories that now have a special place in our hearts. 💙
In 2017, we were visiting Portland for the first time together. Michael already had a job lined up, so he was doing a site visit. I was interviewing to go back to school. We were looking all over downtown for a studio apartment and geez, it was expensive. We decided to stop looking one night and go to a dessert bar. There was such a huge wait, so we initially decided to get a dessert to-go. As we were being handed our to-go box, two seats opened up at the small bar. I immediately asked if we could snag those two bar seats! The restaurant got our dessert plated so we could enjoy it there.
As I was laughing and talking with Michael, my shoulder bumped the older man beside me. I turned to apologize and the man ended up laughing at me and asked what dessert we were having! We ended up talking to this couple for the next hour or so. We found out that they were both in the healthcare field and had a connection to the school I was applying for. They asked about our situation and story. It was so easy talking to them. At one point, I noticed them kind of give each other a silent look, the kind of look that showed they were communicating, but we had no idea what it was…
Turns out, the couple had two homes and they were wanting to rent out one of them, but they did not want to put it on the public market! They said they could sense that we were genuine people, so they offered us to come over right after my interview to see their place!!! We were FREAKING OUT. Of course we said yes.
We brought over two bottles of wine. And when we arrived, they had so many little appetizers. After chatting for awhile, we enjoyed homemade baked salmon, sautéed greens beans, and a side salad. It was soooo delicious and thoughtful of them. We got lost in so many conversations over 4-5 hours of being there.
A few days later, they negotiated a deal with us and umm.. it was a no brainer.
These wonderful humans have become a second family to us. Without their generosity and guidance, we wouldn’t be where we needed to be. We are forever grateful for this family for what they have given us.
This one is a strange one, too. We met all of these folks through Instagram via our mutual love for hiking, adventuring, and photography. I won’t make this too long, so here’s a few photos of our adventures together. 😊
My Mom’s Childhood Friend
This is my mom’s childhood friend from the 70s-80s.
Let this sink in… they hadn’t seen each other in over forty years. By the miracle of social media, my uncle found her profile and forwarded it to my mom a few months ago. My mom discovered that her friend immigrated from Vietnam to Portland!!! I was living so close to her this whole time. Our family flew her out to Dallas for our wedding which was so amazing. Michael and I also ended up spending an afternoon with her a few weeks ago, and she showed us this picture of her and my mom.
That is life, isn’t it? Fate. Luck. Chance.
A long series of what-if’s that lead from one moment to the next, time never pausing for you to catch your breath, to make sense of the cards that have been handed to you. And all you can do is play your cards and hope for the best, because in the end, it all comes back to those three basics.
Growing up, my mom was always someone who celebrated certain holidays with so much enthusiasm and love, especially around Vietnamese new year! She would spruce up the home with bright red and gold decorations and there would always be so much delicious food.
I don’t do nearly as much celebrating as my family would do, but I definitely had to make some of my favorite dishes for us. My mom is incredibly (and hilariously) superstitious. Without fail, my mom always messages me to eat my black eyed peas for the new year. Well, I’ve never missed a year without eating them, so I’m not going to start now!
Black-eyed peas swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity. The mustard greens symbolize money. The pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. The eggs symbolize fertility and a big healthy family.
This traditional Vietnamese dish is simply cozy and comforting.
Behind the Scenes
This is a little side project I’ve been working on with Michael. We’ve both always loved taking photos of our adventures, but lately I’ve been more interested in shooting … food! I love to cook, so I figured why not combine the two things?
We got some walnut wood and Michael cut them up for me in two feet long pieces. I sanded them down. We stained them. He created a base. And I found some fabric to create a few backdrops! It was so much fun, and I am so excited to see what happens!
May the new year bring in your life joys that never fade, hopes that never die, and strength that never weakens.
What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures. Tom Hiddleston
We were talking about what some of ours were the other day, and we figured we would share them here. Here’s a few of them. 😊
a cozy campfire:
We got so incredibly lucky finding our current place. Our landlord is one of the most wonderful human beings ever. Favorite thing? Our bedroom opens directly into this upper level deck that has this view!! The guilty part? We prefer to stay home more than going out on most days.
Michael loves to build things! He removed the back seats out of our FJ cruiser and built a storage platform that has so much space AND can fit a full size mattress on top of it. There’s nothing like getting the bed set-up, opening the back window, and enjoying the view wherever we are. Also – check out the spice rack he made for me!! (I know, terrible photos. They’re from my Instagram stories haha.) It’s so nice that I can see them all now versus shuffling through them trying to find the right one.
cheese & charcuterie:
Sometimes, you just gotta let yourself enjoy the little things in life. 💛
Can you believe 2020 is right around the corner? How is there only two more days of this year left?
As it typically does, another year has flown by without us realizing it. And of course, so much has happened. We were driving home the other day and we just went back and forth about what was most memorable and what wasn’t.
We aren’t going to write about what wasn’t so great, but in no particular order, here are a few of our favorites from 2019. 😊
Have you seen this true crime series on Netflix yet? The one about that woman’s obsessive-stalker-psychopath-narcissistic-selfish-violent husband, named John?
It’s hard to watch, but so eye-opening.
We just watched it with our family… and boy does that John have some striking similarities to someone we’ve had to deal with.
I’ve gone back & forth trying to decide if I wanted to write this. Mostly because part of me doesn’t want to give any energy to this, but I also want to because I am now so fascinated by personality disorders and behaviors… especially after dealing with something like this.
Let me paint you a quick picture of that person.
For 3 years, she has made at least 25 Instagram accounts, used 4 phone numbers, harassed 3 ex-boyfriends, future girlfriends of those exes, 2 female no-longer-friends of hers and their families, my brother, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my husband’s employer, at least 20 friend & family of mine. I think I got everyone that I know of. That makes it at least 35 people…
That’s a lot, to say the very least. Yes, this is online harassment, but with this type of hostile behavior, we don’t know when she will become physically violent.
Almost every time we tell someone about her and how she works as a mental health caregiver… no one is surprised. “The crazy are always working with.. the crazy.”
I found that interesting… so I looked up why people think this.
The problem is that mental health professionals do a poor job of monitoring their own mental health problems.
Therapists struggling with marital problems, alcoholism, sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and so on don’t function very well as therapists. The questions, then, are these: How can clients be protected—and how can troubled therapists be helped?
Here’s a theory that’s not so crazy: Maybe people enter the mental health field because they have a history of psychological difficulties. Perhaps they’re trying to understand or overcome their own problems, which would give us a pool of therapists who are a hit unusual to begin with.
Robert Epstein Ph.D. & Tim Bower
I understand how this person may be in the mental health profession because she wants to understand her troubling psychological difficulties while having the ability to help others. That’s wonderful. However, what we have a deep issue with is how she uses her mental illness as an excuse to hurt people in her personal life. That’s not okay. Having a mental illness does not justify treating others poorly, right? Does having a mental disorder cause someone to create over 25 social media accounts in order to terrorize 35 people, including strangers like myself?
The reality is this: Mental illness is not a free pass to be cruel, offensive, or to engage in toxic behavior. You can’t justify persistent cruelty as part of your disorder. If you find yourself lashing out of people, that’s something you need to fix. It’s something you should seek help for. It is something you should acknowledge. You should not allow it to continue happening just because you think it’s part of the parcel of mental illness.
I used to want to understand why she does these things, but now I realize there’s no point. We’ve learned to ignore the behavior and just block her accounts. Hopefully it doesn’t escalate beyond this.
The luckiest thing that happened was that my husband got away from that manipulative and bitter person. We often think about how his life would have been if he stayed with her. It kind of sends shivers down my spine thinking about it.
The more we hear about stories like “Dirty John”, the more we just hope women and men can find ways to safely leave toxic relationships like that and find a way to make themselves whole again.
Sharing Michael’s parents first time visiting Hawaii! It made our hearts so happy to hear about their adventures and see their photos. We couldn’t help but share some of them. I seriously cannot get over all of the shades of blue coming off of the sky and the ocean water. It is just something else.
With Michael’s dad, Nick, having stage IV kidney cancer, seeing them take this bucket-list trip is heartwarming. They have gone on so many incredible trips in the last two years. Nick has a huge interest in war history, and he just came back from France visiting WWII sites. So having him get the chance to visit Pearl Harbor with his wife, Kim, was a pretty surreal moment. This trip to Hawaii may have been unexpected, but it turned out to be perfect timing.
I know they’re still exploring Hawaii, but we are so thankful they are still having a romantic trip together. These two have really taught us the value of making every moment count and making the best of any situation. Pretty sure Hawaii is on our travel list next year!
When I was in college, I was obsessed with the food industry. I was just beginning to fall in love with cooking. I found myself reading endlessly about different styles of cooking from different chefs. When I found out Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert were visiting a nearby university for a speech, I couldn’t pass it up. I was at the edge of my seat hearing about their culinary stories and their friendship. What stood out to me most was when he was asked where was his favorite country to visit he said, “Vietnam.” He kept talking about how much he fell in love with the food, the people, the country, and the culture when he visited there and it made me fall in love more with my family’s history.
His passing stunned the both of us, especially me.
I’m in disbelief that someone so loved, inspiring, and unique struggled with such dark demons that he couldn’t imagine his place in this world anymore. After writing about all of the hidden secrets of the culinary world, we are left wondering about the unknown parts of his mind. I just hope so deeply that he somehow found the peace he was looking for. Our thoughts are always with the loved ones that people leave behind.
We previously have shared a lot about the negativity that we have been dealing with in our lives regarding harassment and online abuse. However, we want to refocus our blog moving forward!
We realize that toxic people will always find a way to continue being malignant in their own mind, which will only lead to their own eventual downfall.
They will try to take others down with them, but that’s not happening with us.
We want to start sharing about what’s important to us! Which is our love, our life, our friends/family, and our adventures.