Friday, December 30, 2016

The 2017 Resolutions

It's time to say goodbye to another year!  2016 really flew by -- there are so many events that stand out as "recent" in my mind, but upon review, have happened quite a while ago.  I can't believe it's going to be a 2017 in a little over a day!

The end of an old year means resolutions for the new.  How did you do on your resolutions last year?  I know that I made a few goals (pushing my fitness more, expanding the blog) and didn't quite meet some of the others.  I intend to do a lot better in 2017!


If 2016 taught me anything, it was the need for more kindness, empathy, and compassion.  It is easy to be unkind or negative in the face of adversity.  When placed in an environment of takers and selfishness, I'm guilty of reflecting that behavior.  In doing so, I actively contribute to the problem.  I will practice more kindness, more courtesy, and be better, towards both others and myself.


I know good people and I need to appreciate them more, especially family old and new.  I will be more present for those in my life who take care, who nurture, and mean the best for others.  This means calling home more often and checking in with people. 


This is the year I need to get my paper out, do my original proposal exams, write my thesis, job hunt, and get my driver's license.  I know resolutions are lifestyle changes, but these are things that absolutely need to get done. 


I will continue making progress on my fitness goals.  This means healthier eating and consistency with exercise as well as spending more time outside.  As I seem to say constantly here, "Health is wealth."  I will finish up my annual checkups this coming January and take further steps to care for my emotional health (an important, if not always visible faction of wellness).


This year, I will say YES more often.  I will do what scares me in order to grow.  I am guilty of being too afraid to fail to try new things which is a recipe for pushing away potential opportunities.  Instead of finding reasons why I "can't," I will pursue "how" to make my goals a reality and step outside my little box of comfort. 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!  I'll be spending mine with family.  See you all in 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Chicago Photo Diary

Downtown Chicago, Chicago Bean, December, Blogmas
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor.

On our first Wednesday back in Illinois, we went with family to Downtown Chicago for a full day of activities.  Our first stop was the Field Museum as we were kindly gifted tickets for the special exhibition China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors.  Upon our entrance, we were greeted by Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, who resides in the lobby of the museum.  Having been to the regular exhibitions before, we headed straight to see the famous Terracotta Warriors that guarded the tomb of the first emperor of China.  Interesting tidbit: over 300,000 convicts worked on the tomb!  It makes me wonder how inflated incarceration rates must've been in China during construction.

Sue, Trex, Tyrannosaurus rex, Field Museum
Terracotta Soldiers, Field MuseumTerracotta Soldiers, Field Museum

We stopped for a quick lunch before meandering along the banks of Lake Michigan which is next to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.  We got a great view of the Chicago skyline across the lake.  I snapped a photo of the chemist and marine biologist in our party along the banks of Lake Michigan.  The third sibling, the yogi and climbing aficionado, couldn't make it out this holiday because of work.  We miss her a lot and the holiday so far has felt different without her.

Shedd Aquarium, Downtown Chicago, Chicago Skyline, Lake Michigan

We met up with the other half of our party in the afternoon and went to peruse the exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago.  They have a very large collection of work by Claude Monet, if you like Impressionist Art.  Afterwards, we headed to get our cars and stopped for a few photos at the Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor, more popularly known as The Bean in Millenium Park. 

The Chicago Bean at Millenium Park and a marine biologist. #womeninscience

When we were finished at Millenium Park, we grabbed dinner before seeing a comedy sketch show at The Second City Network!  I was so wiped by the end of the day that I fell asleep in the car ride home.  All in all, it was a great day full of activities with loved ones. It's been quite a long time since I got to just relax and spend time with some family.  Christmas isn't for another two days, but I don't believe any gift will top quality time with people who make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

As I likely won't be on here until after Christmas, I hope you all have a happy holiday, no matter what you celebrate!  I bid you good tidings, love, and time with your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

'Tis the Season To Share Blog Love

Five to Follow,  Tis The Season, Christmas, Blog Love

Season's greetings!  Hope you're all well.  I'm currently situated in the suburbs of Chicago with family.  It's below freezing and windy outside, but I'm settled in with ginger lemon tea, good company, and warm socks.  

I was recently reading Hanh's blog recommendations and thought, "What a wonderful idea! 'Tis the season to share blog love."  I don't think I do this often enough even though I appreciate the community that builds over time in the blogosphere.  I'm grateful to those who spend time to interact, to link my blog, so I think it's time I pay it forward!  Blogging's given me a chance to interact with people around the world and be inspired by myriad points of view.  Here are a few of my favorite blogs that inspire:

•  deluminators  Jane is a med student (doctor now, eh?) from Sydney who shares her travels, literary finds, and personal tidbits.  Her essay on internalized racism, asian representation, and blogging is an eye opener.

•  Hanhabelle  I'm in awe of Hanh's beautiful photography.  Every photo feels light, airy, and calming -- even when working in artificial light.

•  JennifHsieh  Jenn writes a fashion blog that's a cut above the rest.  She's authentic and her sense of humor shines through every post.  A bit belated, but read her costume ideas from this year and try not to laugh.
•  Brunch at Audrey's  Audrey is a fellow woman in the STEM field who writes a lifestyle blog -- her posts often read as if she's writing to a friend.  Her DIY Secret Santa post had me in chuckles.

•  Daisybutter  I've read Michelle's blog for years and watched it grow as she did.  I love that she's not afraid to tackle meatier topics

As I was compiling this list, I realized that there are more blogs I love than I can fit into one post.  I will be doing a monthly Five to Follow feature starting in January to spread the blog love!

What are some of your favorite blogs?  Leave me some recommendations (even your blog)! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday #29: The Last Day

Hello.  So I've been a teensy bit quiet this past week of Blogmas.  It's been busy trying to get things done before holiday, preparing for my time away, and work functions.  I have a work holiday party to attend tonight and then I'm flying to Chicago tomorrow!  I'm feeling slightly under the weather, too, so I'm resting and having some ginger lemon tea before the party.


Our lab, in collaboration with other researchers, attended a cancer workshop led by my advisor bright and early on Saturday morning.  Afterwards, a few of us decided to go to the UCLA campus to take some photos.  What ended up happening was my friends directing me to stand in certain spots and pose.  I don't think I've ever had so many pictures of me taken, all without a stitch of makeup (see below, photo by S. Peng).  I do think it's important to accept and like myself for what I look like without cosmetics.  Amidst pretending to be a celebrity accosted by paparazzi, I got a shot of my companions through some tall grass in the city. 


We recently watched Everest, the 2015 movie based on the 1996 disaster.  Since then, I've watched the movie again and done a lot of Internet reading on the incident as well as extreme mountaineering.  I am intrigued by extreme sports performed in places that are inhospitable to human life.  I also like living vicariously through people more sportif than myself.  My day long hike through the Sierras is as far as I will go.  I picked up memoirs by two survivors of the 1996 incident: Into The Air by Jon Krakauer and Above the Clouds by Anatoli Boukreev.  I meant to save them for the holiday, but I'm almost done with Into The Air.

Aside from work and reading about mountaineering, I didn't get up to a lot this week.  I've got to get on packing for my flight and cleaning up things around the house so I'll wrap up here.  Lumière & Lens will return to regularly scheduled programming this coming week!  I'll be talking to y'all when I'm settled in for Christmas in Chicago!

What did you get up to this week? 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday #28: Green Bar Distillery, Downtown LA

Lumière & Lens, Christmas, Blogmas

The weekends in December have been packed!  I just got home from a professor's holiday party and I have one next Sunday, the night before I fly to Chicago.  So little time, so much to do!


Last night, a bunch of us went to a tasting tour at Green Bar Distillery in Downtown Los Angeles.  They are an environmentally conscious distillery that makes spirits with organic ingredients and plants a tree for every bottle sold!  I'm not much of a drinker (I can't handle ANY alcohol), but I did enjoy the tour and learning about how spirits are made.  The machinery was really cool.  Their Ginger Organic Liqueur was my absolute favorite of the night!  Their tours are only $12 per person so I'd recommend a visit if you're in the Los Angeles area. 

Green Bar Distillery, Organic Distillery, Downtown Los Angeles
Distillation tank at Green Bar Distillery.
Green Bar Distillery, Organic Distillery, Downtown Los Angeles
Distillation apparatus and continuous fractionation machinery at Green Bar Distillery.
Green Bar Distillery, Los Angeles
Green Bar Distillery, Organic Distillery, Downtown Los Angeles, Flavor Infusions
Samples of the spices and flavors used to infuse their unique liquors.


We decided to go Angel City Brewery after the tasting tour.  Standard night of drinking, games, and me walking around with my camera to take sneaky shots.  My friend took my camera and snapped a few group photographs, which I really appreciated.  I am often always the one behind the camera and rarely in front of the lens.  He said, "You should have some pictures of yourself, too."  And here we are!

Angel City Brewery, Arts District, Downtown Los Angeles, DTLA
Little Tokyo, Far Bar
Far Bar, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

We then walked to Far Bar in Little Tokyo for my drinks and food.  I grabbed this sneaky shot of people from the edge of the table.  Look at the mood lighting!  That's my friend who took the last photo looking at his fiancée.  Ah, love!

What's also apparent from my photos is that my DSLR is very technologically outdated.  It photographs very poorly in low-light as you can tell by the noise.  I really need a new camera. 


I did pretty well with exercising 4 times this week.  On my better weeks, I would do it 5 to 6 times a week, but motivation is harder in these darker months.  I've also been eating more carbs because it's nearly winter!  On the plus side, I did leg day today (I now squat above my body weight) and felt pretty shattered so you know it was intense.  I've also been working on a draft of a manuscript this week and am aiming to get the full rough draft done by Friday.

What did you get up to this past week?


•  I love makeup (and respect it as an art form) so these backstage makeup tips are right up my alley.
•  Diving Into The Unknown: a documentary about divers at Plura Cave. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

In Appreciation

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, I am taking a moment to count a few of my blessings and appreciate what I have.  I didn't write about them over Thanksgiving break and I think that it can be easy to lose sight of my privilege when I'm so wrapped up in the daily motion of life. 

Family.  I will be spending my holidays divided between my two families: my boyfriend's family and my own.  I appreciate so much love and warmth for it was not always so.  There is a warmth from being around good people that no physical fire can attain.

Health.  I had my yearly checkup and, thankfully, everything came back normal.  As they say, "Health is wealth" . . . because doctor's bills are expensive.

Home.  I appreciate having a roof of my head and a warm house to cozy up inside, especially this time of year.  I fall asleep every night next to my best friend.  All my roommates and I get along.  There is a lovely dog who brings unparalleled vivacity to our home.  When we all hang out together, it's like a constant house party without all the social awkwardness.

Education.  I complain about the hardships of graduate school a lot, but I lamented how the lack of an education turned our election this year.  Graduate school is one of the most mentally arduous things one can do, but I'm grateful to have an education. 

You.  I am thankful for all of you who come here and make Lumière & Lens interactive.  I appreciate every comment, every tweet, every follow.  I started this blog to write purely for myself so thank you for responding so that I'm not purely yelling into a void.  

I want to round out the end of this year on a positive note so this post is in appreciation.  What blessings are you counting?

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My First Bullet Journal

bullet journal, lumière and lens, organization, DIY, flat lay

Alright, I'm on the bandwagon -- I've started one of those newfangled Bullet Journals.  A bullet journal is a planner, diary, and to-do list all in one.  Supposedly, they help you be more productive and organized, in addition to bettering your mental health.  After my roommate noted the positive reinforcement that is the gratification of physically crossing out finished tasks, I decided to try bullet journaling.  It can't hurt to be more organized, right?

Bullet Journal recommend a high quality notebook that will last.  Since I am a total cheapskate thrifty, I re-purposed a barely used Moleskine sketchbook.  In line with Bullet Journal, I made the following sections:

Index - logs the page #s of content
Key - definitions of the symbols to denote tasks
Future Log - long term goal list
Daily Log - daily to do list

I've kept with my bullet journal for three weeks now.  On each Sunday evening, I draw up the layouts in my Moleskine.  I take two pages to layout my Daily Logs for the week.  I draw up a Food + Exercise Diary.  I also have lists such as Blog Post Ideas, December/Blogmas Ideas, and Los Angeles To-Do List.  

My bullet journal has been most helpful for keeping track of my diet and exercise habits.  The daily logs are useful, though they haven't deeply impacted my productivity.  Like my roommate, I am gratified by ticking off daily accomplishments.  Cataloging blog posts ideas has provided a great reference for when I want to blog, but feel a little stuck.  My Photography To-Do List is also a good source of ideas!  In the future, I intend to log down favorite recipes and start diagramming information for photography.  

I found little utility in the index or the symbol keys.  I haven't used the index except to fill out each new entry and I only make lists with bullets or squares.  The Future Log is good to remind me of things I need to do long term (proposals exam, driving lessons, etc.), but it doesn't help too much in the day to day.  Overall, I'll be sticking with my bullet journal.  It's a good way to remember ideas keep track of tasks, and a bit of throwback to the days when I kept a physical diary!
What are your thoughts and/or experiences on bullet journals?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday #27: A Little Bit of Everything

christmas, holiday decorations, lumière & lens

I'm really excited for the holidays this year.  Are you?  Last year, I went to visit my boyfriend's family in December and had my first proper Christmas, tree and all.  I am glad I experienced my first Christmas as an adult -- it showed me how much that holiday is about family, friends, love, and warmth.  In about two weeks, we will be flying out to Chicago to spend Christmas, and I can't wait!  

In the meantime, however, there's much to be done . . .


I've been hunkered down over my computer for much of this weekend, preparing slides for a presentation tomorrow.  At this point, I'm taking a break because my slides are mostly finished. When I do literature presentations, I always pick a paper in an unfamiliar field to learn something new.  This does make for a rough few days, but you can't grow if you're always comfortable, right? 


My roommates/boyfriend came home from a brewery on Saturday to hang out at the house.  I took a few sneaky photographs of them lest you all think I live in a vacuum and only take pictures of inanimate objects.  Yes, we have a giant cow painting someone got from a Christmas party over our fireplace (which we're not allowed to use because Fire Hazard, wut).  Doesn't everyone have a giant cow painting?  Anyways, even though I was sort of working at the living room table, it was nice to have company buzzing around our house.  I'm a huge nesting hermit and a crowd makes the place feel warmer.


Lastly, two of my girlfriends wanted to do some shopping and I decided I'd go out for a short while since I'd been cooped up all weekend.  The shopping district was so festive (see photo #1).  I didn't buy anything except coffee, but I did find a great tea place.  I'm thinking some loose leaf blends might make for a great gift! 

Okay, okay.  Enough blogging.  Back to work!


•  Someone Else's Rib - a poem recommended by my friend Anu.
•  Black Gold - photo story on the sale of Chinese hair for extensions: exploitative, disturbing, and cerebral.
•  I watch Love, Actually nearly every holiday season so here's Jezebel's delightful rip on it (circa 2013).

Saturday, December 03, 2016

My Favorite Day

oats, healthy recipe, healthy oatmeal, oatmeal, fall breakfast, autumn

Saturday is my favorite day. It is my guilt free day off from work, though this weekend, I have to work on a presentation for the coming Monday. On my Saturdays off, I usually wake up around 7:30 AM to squeeze as much out of the day as possible.  I drink my coffee while making my favorite weekend breakfast which is a bowl of oats with all the fixings.  I arrange it and take a picture of it, because if its not on social media, then it didn't really happen (heavy on the sarcasm here).   
Since I'm posting a picture of my food, I'm obligated to provide a "recipe" of sorts, so here it is:

Saturday Oats

1/4 cup of steel cut oats
1 banana
1/3 cup of blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1 tsp of honey
1 tbsp of trail mix or nuts

Cook the oats according to the packaging.  Pour it into a bowl.  Put the bananas and blueberries in.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Top with coconut and the trek mix.  Drizzle with honey.  Take a photo of it and post to Instagram.  Alternatively, you can throw everything together and mix it up because the world won't end if it doesn't look Just Right.  And then you eat it.

hot oatmeal, oats

That bowl of oatmeal took about 10 minutes to assemble and photograph, but less than two minutes to eat.  I'm off to make my second cup of coffee and get into working on my presentation.

By the way, thank you for the lovely responses on my last post.  They were a real treat to read!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hello, December!

blogmas, lumiere and lens, december

Oh, hello, December!  When did you get here?  

Yep, it's that time of the year again.  Insert clichéd statement here about how the year has flown by, but it really has.  There are so many memories in my head of events that seem to have occurred recently, but were actually many months ago.  Does the passage of time seem faster as you get older because you have a lot more to do than you did as a kid?  Anyways, I am both excited and freaked out with wrapping up 2016.  I have a lot of work to do, but I am also excited to visit my families!  

December segues into the new year so it's time to do something fresh.  Welcome to the first monthly goals list on Lumière & Lens!

Goal #1.  I will be participating in Blogmas (going easy on the Christmas theme, though) this year with 3 posts per week, inclusive of Sundays.  I want to create better, more regular content and the only way to do that is to jump into it!

Goal #2.  Get a manuscript draft to my research advisor before I fly out for the holidays, no matter in-progress I am with some of the last experiments.

Goal #3.  Exercise/go to the gym a minimum of 4X a week.  My brain always think it's time to hibernate because of the winter darkness.  I've lost some weight as muscle mass disappeared.  Gotta turn it around!

Goal #4.  Update my LinkedIn, CVs, and start drafting ideas for my proposals examination. 

Goal #5.  Eat healthier.  Take vitamins and probiotics to keep from getting sick.

I keep thinking I have to add more goals because this list seems "short," but they are all more labor intensive than they seem written out.  I want this December to be productive and fulfilling, so here goes!

What are your December goals?  How do you keep yourself on task?