Well, it’s officially 2021. When 2020 began, I had so many things scheduled. Then… COVID-19 struck. Everyone’s plans were quickly dashed. Confined to our homes, we embarked on a different sort of lifestyle. While the world may never go back to the same “normal” of pre-2020, I do hope that 2021 will provide a respite. Honestly, 2020 taught me many lessons and gave me reason to be grateful for so many aspects of my life. I wanted to record my thoughts (and some Instagram stories) in this post, so here goes!
In 2020, I…
Became a better cook.
One of the best decisions I made at the start of 2020 was subscribing to HelloFresh. I was really clueless in the kitchen before and I wanted to improve my culinary skills, especially given that UberEats delivery was not a safe option at the time. The first dish I made – turmeric tilapia with buttery coconut rice and green beans – really surprised me. I didn’t expect anything I made to actually taste good, seeing as I never had positive experiences before (lol). However, I can say it was delicious! Also aside from the point, I had to get over my squeamishness over handling raw meat real quick, which was an interesting experience.
As I made more dishes, my confidence and skill increased. Soon I was whipping up amazing flatbreads, gnocchi pasta, mouth-watering paninis (complete with oven-baked potato wedges) and best of all – dalgona coffee. It was a proud moment for sure. In fact, my brother and I even cooked a full Christmas dinner – green bean casserole, oven baked chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies, and cornbread stuffing – which everyone agreed was fantastic. I would post more photos of my creations but my food presentation/photography skills aren’t perfect and need some work haha. That’s something to practice this year, and I shall be adding it to my list of to-do’s!
I periodically post recipes to my Instagram story, so follow me there if you’d like.
As a little bonus, here’s a recipe for my famous pad thai which I concocted over the summer:
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 pack rice noodles
- 2.5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Sriracha to taste
- Zest and juice from one lime
- Crushed peanuts
- Protein of choice
- First scramble your eggs in whatever method you prefer. It doesn’t have to look pretty or perfect since we’re going to be mixing it up in the noodles later.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, chop your scallions, cilantro, & zest/quarter your lime.
- Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off and soak the rice noodles for 10-15 minutes until they are just shy of al dente. Then immediately drain the water and rinse the noodles in cold water.
- Make your sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, brown sugar, rice vinegar, & lime zest/juice. Set it aside.
- Put your vegetable oil in a pan on the stove at medium heat. Add your garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until aromatic.
- If desired, add your protein of choice after the garlic and make sure it cooks through. If it is already cooked, just heat it thoroughly.
- Once that’s done, plop your noodles in the pan. Add your eggs as well. Then pour in your sauce and make sure everything is well coated. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Remove the noodles from the heat and top with chopped scallions, cilantro, and chopped peanuts. Serve with lime wedges and extra sriracha.
Let me know if you’d like more recipe posts in the future! I’ll work hard and try my best to take more photogenic photos haha.
Started buying second-hand clothing.
In my previous post, I talked about buying designer pieces second-hand from reputable sources (Poshmark and TheRealReal). It’s a sustainable and more affordable way to shop. After watching Sir David Attenborough’s documentary, A Life on Our Planet, I realized how important it is to reduce my own footprint on Earth. I had been taking small steps already from the beginning of 2020 as I began educating myself about environmentally safe practices. No more plastic bottles, no more reusable coffee cups, and no more plastic straws or eating utensils – it’s a start. I am just one person, but if more people come together to save this world, we can do it.
Anyway back to my topic haha: I’ve gotten quite carried away at times with my shopping. I’ve actually bought a few new dresses recently, which I’ll be hauling in a later post. Please look forward to it!
Moved out of Austin.
This was the most exciting, and the most stressful event of the year. Earlier in 2020, at the end of May – I came back to my parents’ house a.k.a. home (since home is where the heart is). It was a risky decision that I had been putting off for months due to the pandemic, but I took a leap of faith and did it. Overall, it was the right thing to do. I was languishing in Austin all by myself, having no human contact except phone calls and Discord meetings. It was weeks since I even saw someone I knew and it was taking a toll on my psyche. Thus for my mental well-being I came back home (and self-quarantined for the recommended 14 days once I arrived). I classify as an introvert, but even I need physical human interaction. Everyone does!
Fast forwarding to a little later in the year, my company told its employees that the WFH order had been extended to 2021. So what was I to do with an exorbitantly-priced Austin apartment which I was no longer living in? Well, I would break my lease, of course! There was no point in paying that much when I could be living at home and saving money. My dad and I flew back to Austin to do just that. Within 10 days, we packed up the whole apartment, sold every piece of furniture, deep-cleaned every corner, and lugged 6 heavy suitcases back home. It was hard, back-breaking work, but we pulled through.
Once we brought everything home, I somehow was able to cram everything from an almost 800 square foot apartment into my little bedroom, and I’m really pleased with how it all looks. The plan for the future is to buy my own little place. I’m thoroughly done with renting apartments!
Ventured into nature more.
I discovered the healing properties of nature over the course of this pandemic. Walking through sunlight-dappled forest trails, smelling the earthy richness of soil, hearing the rush of water over rocky creek beds – all of it is so therapeutic. If it weren’t for COVID, I never would have discovered that my home state has so many parks and recreational areas! Flower gardens here are especially lovely. My next idea is to try pleinair watercolor painting, which is my favorite tactile painting medium. Also berry picking! Fresh fruits from orchards always seem to taste so much better than their grocery store counterparts.
Began drawing again.
It’s slow going, and I am still mustering the courage to draw. After years of being so self-critical, I am freeing myself of these shackles and have finally started planning out a project that’s been in the pipes since my high school years. I wish to progress further this year! There are so many other endeavors I want to begin, so… here’s hoping for more inspiration and motivation to keep the spark going.
In 2021, I plan to…
- Improve upon things I started in 2020.
- Learn how to be more disciplined.
- Have courage to try new hobbies, even just once.
Since the future is so uncertain due to the current situation, I’m not bombarding myself with too many resolutions or goals. Let’s just take this one step at a time. One new habit per week, one new routine per month – and over time it will add up. And sooner or later, COVID-19 will be a thing of the past, and we can pick up where we left off.
I shall end this post with some lyrics from a song by BTS “Life Goes On”.
Like an echo in the forest
The day will come back around
As if nothing happened
Yeah, life goes on
Happy 2021 and stay safe everyone. Endless well wishes from me to you. 🖤