Category Archives: Diary

Celebrating Both the Magical and Mundane Through the 1 Second App

I started documenting my life in video form, one second a day in 2017 and am loving what the video compilation looks like so far at 5 months. The app I use is called 1 Second Everyday.

What I love about it is it’s quick and in a unique video format. It satisfies the sentimental diarist in me by giving me colorful, moving slices of my everyday life. Some of my favorite seconds captured thus far is my dad making Bob play the piano, indoor skydiving, riding a Mardi Gras parade float, and Sugarface being goofy. I’ve always thought there is magic in the mundane and love that this is a heartfelt timecapsule I can hopefully keep for the rest of my life.

I will say the biggest challenge of taking on this documentation project is remembering to film a one second video while I’m out and doing something interesting. There are many days where I get home and remember with bitter disappointment that I forgot to film that interesting thing I did or the people I was with. On those days, I half grudgingly and half lovingly film my dogs.

So how about you? Are you sentimental? How do you store and archive your memories?

Friday Feels

Friday Feels

Hi everyone! What do you have going on this weekend? I’m driving down to Houston to spend some time with my mom in honor of Mother’s Day. I’m trying to prioritize seeing them more. Time spent with parents gets even more precious when we get older. What are you doing this weekend? What’s been making you laugh these days?

I’ve been sitting on some of these links for a while and thought it’s time to share them for a round of Friday Feels, a list of pieces of the internet that made me feel feelings.

50 Books I Read in 2016

50 Books I Read in 2016

2016 was the fifth consecutive year I’ve read fifty books a year. One book a week is very manageable for me. However, the last two years I fell behind and was faced with 14 book pileups in December. Two years in a row this happened! I blame my lack of willpower and re-watching Game of Thrones and all of Shameless, The Leftovers, The Killing, Stranger Things, The OA, and The Night Of. I resolve to be better with prioritizing reading time in 2017! Here’s this year list of books read. I link to 2015’s list at the bottom of the post.

    Books I Loved

  1. I found Maus I in my younger brother’s childhood bedroom during a trip to Houston. I knew of its fame and read it in two afternoons. The graphic novel memoir is the story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s regime as told by his cartoonist son.
  2. You can’t finish Maus I and not immediately go look for Maus II. This story reaffirmed my goal of documenting my dad’s story of surviving the Vietnam War.
  3. Fates and Furies

  4. I read Fates and Furies while in Barcelona and it was hard to go to bed because I couldn’t stop reading! I also carried it and squeezed in reading sessions during subway rides. This story of a marriage is first told in the husband’s point of view and then told in the wife’s point of view.
  5. I expected to love The Thing Around Your Neck, a collection of 12 short stories, because I fell in love with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing when I read Americanah last year. I love stories of straddling two cultures and assimilating to American culture.
  6. I enjoyed The Course of Love so much that I made the girls at I Feel Better Podcast read it and we dedicated a whole episode to it.
  7. course

  8. Truth and Beauty is a memoir by Ann Patchett about her friendship with Lucy Grealy, who lost half of her face to childhood cancer. A beautiful story that made me want to read Grealy’s memoir, Autobiography of a Face.
  9. Milk and Honey is bittersweet lyrical poetry with accompanying sketches that made me want to sketch again.
  10. I can’t fathom the amount of courage and grace it takes to write about a relationship and its intimate and ugly parts and still have a working relationship. And yet Glennon Doyle Melton achieves that with Love Warrior, an unflinching retelling of her experience of her husband’s infidelities.
  11. Their Eyes Were Watching God, a story of a black woman named Janie and her three marriages, might be my favorite book read in 2016.
  12. The Grownup teetered between books I loved and books I liked but what pushed it into the love cateogory was the fact that I read it to Sugarface on our long drive to Arkansas. We shared laughs and speculations. I laughed out loud at the first line of this novella (which prompted me to read to Sugarface).
  13. Books I Liked

  14. The Lowland is a family drama centered around two Indian brothers.
  15. My friend Ashley recommended I read In Cold Blood and now it’s my turn to recommend that you read it if you enjoy True Crime.
  16. Norwegian Wood was assigned reading for the I Feel Better Podcast. So glad it was put on our list!
  17. A Tale for the Time Being is two stories in one. That of a Japanese 16 year-old girl who kept a diary and the Canadian novelist who finds her diary washed ashore in Canada.
  18. A neurosurgeon learns of his terminal diagnosis and has to come to terms with his mortality at the age of 36. He dies while writing When Breath Becomes Air and the epilogue is a tearjerker.
  19. I read The Buddha In The Attic after reading Maus II and it was kind of thematic. The writing style (first person plural) was a smidge distracting in the beginning but it was a heart-aching read about Japanese female immigrants right before WWII and then entering WWII.
  20. Goldfinch

  21. My friend Treavor gifted me Goldfinch a few years ago for my birthday. What an adventure of a read! It also won a Pulitzer in 2014.
  22. 2 Dollars a Day is a compassionate and well-researched book about the extremely impoverished in the United States.
  23. Are you a Shonda Rhimes fan? If so, read Year of Yes.
  24. I’m a big fan of Oprah and bought What I Know For Sure for my sister. It is a mix of personal development and memoir essays.
  25. Read Not that Kind of Girl if you like Lena Dunham or the show Girls.
  26. Men We Reaped is a grief memoir that acknowledges (not so much examines) the role of race in the death of five black men in her life.
  27. Love, Loss, and What We Ate is overwritten and needed better editors. Padma Lakshmi was excessive in mentioning how she used to model. Every page at first felt like it had at least three sentences that started with “when I was a model”. When I started to accept that leaving the modeling world was a pivotal moment for her and that she earnestly is referring to that transition, it became less distracting. I read a few criticisms about how out of touch she is from an average person’s everyday life. Those kinds of criticisms always grate me. She’s a former international model and Top Chef host! She’s telling her story, which includes working in an industry that values beauty.
  28. The End of the Story speaks to loss and sifting through ever-transforming memories.
  29. The End of Your Life Book Club is about a book club between the author and his dying mother. I added to my to-read list after reading this book.
  30. Blankets was my first experience of the graphic novelist’s Craig Thompson’s work. I must read more of his works in 2017.
  31. We Were Liars,a YA mystery, is the only book that made me want to read it immediately again after I finished to see if I could catch the clues a second time around.

  32. I decided to read Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman after listening to Lindy West confront one of her internet trolls in an episode of This American Life.
  33. I read M Train because I loved Patti Smith’s first memoir, Just Kids, and because I heard she wrote about one of my favorite TV shows watched in 2016.
  34. I’m so excited to see Big Little Lies being made into a TV show!

  35. The Life We Bury was the first book my book club chose. A thriller/mystery that was well-written.

  36. Personal Development Books

  37. The author of The Art of Living subscribes to Napoleon Hill’s teachings.
  38. I wanted to read Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time and chose How to Eat as my first. Speaks to mindfulness while eating.
  39. So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

  40. You are a Badass

  41. Everyone Writes

  42. The religious undertones in Fringe Hours was distracting.
  43. Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion will make you want to tweet.
  44. Crossroads of Should and Must was beautifully illustrated.
  45. How to Love (another Thich Nhat Hanh book)

  46. The Writing Life
  47. Books I Didn’t Quite Like

  48. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

  49. The Nest

  50. How to Be Single

  51. I used to enjoy the Adulting blog but I think I’ve outgrown most of the content!
  52. Rosie Project

  53. I was so excited to read Adultery since it’s by Paulo Coelho but it was a flop for me.
  54. I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around

  55. Shining Girls, chosen by my book club. Thriller with a side of time travel.

  56. Eleanor and Park was on the cusp between books I didn’t quite like and books I liked.

You may also like: 50 Books I Read in 2015

Question: What were your favorite reads of 2016? Please share in the comments!

2016 in Review

This is my ninth yearly recap on this blog. NINTH! I have been sharing my life from this space for almost 10 years! You can read previous years’ recaps at the bottom of this post. As I review my year, I counted six weddings, three trips to Arkansas, and six trips to Houston. Travel highlights outside of trips to Arkansas and Houston were Miami, Barcelona, and Toronto.

2016 was my first full year not working a conventional 9-5 job. I worked part-time in an engineering firm and supplemented the rest of my income with freelancing jobs that ranged from photography, blogging, social media marketing, and teaching drawing with Artful Bachelorette. I didn’t make as much as I would have with a full-time job but haven’t been this professionally happy. My biggest source of freelance income was photography which lights me up. I’ve dreamed of becoming a professional photographer since high school and years before I even owned a DSLR. I’m no where near established but my slow and steady pursuit of it this year has been the most fulfilled I’ve ever been professionally.

January


Sugarface and I rang in the New Year dolled up at a New Year’s Eve wedding in Arkansas. I had never seen him look so handsome in a tux before! We spent the first few days of the year in Arkansas and enjoyed some quality time with his parents. Shortly after getting back from Arkansas, we celebrated our first anniversary by watching Die Hard and eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Also in January, I got to try my hands at sausage making!. Finally, we ended the month the same way we started it, that is, dressed up for another wedding.

February

In February, I spent a weekend in Fredericksburg with Sugarface and our puppies. We ate around Fredericksburg and played Scrabble while drinking pink champagne. That weekend was my favorite memory from February.

A close second favorite memory was Valentine’s Day. We started the day with breakfast tacos, watched my friend run the Austin Marathon, and had a chicken tender-off for lunch and ordered chicken tenders from around town to see who had the best one. For dinner, I was just about to make the same dinner I made for him the previous Valentine’s Day when I received a text from one of my besties. She couldn’t make her reservations and gifted us an elegant multi-course dinner at an esteemed restaurant in Austin. We literally had ten minutes to decide and make the seating. It made me feel so lucky to have kind thoughtful friends and a man who is such a willing partner in crime in my life.

March

March in Austin meant much of the city was under siege for two weeks by SXSW. During SXSW, I usually do a few food related events and my friend Patrick Pho, one of the handful of friends I’ve met through Youtube comes very year. We had our yearly reunion with Ashley.

Sugarface and I attended our third wedding of the year. This one was our first Indian wedding and we felt so honored to be part of our friend’s day. Kind of related, I got ordained as a minister. I even paid extra for the paper certificate which came with a parking pass that made me laugh. I told Sugarface I’ll frame it next to his PhD.

April

For my dad’s birthday, I treated my parents to a weekend trip in Miami. We stayed with my long time friend, Nazanin. It was there I decided to experiment with taking more photos of humans in addition to my ongoing food photography endeavors. After taking Nazain’s photos in Miami, I declared to my friends and the internet that I am seeking more opportunities to take portraits. My friend Julie obliged and let me do the honors of shooting her engagement photos.

May

I spent the first day and last weekend in May at the same hiking trail and swimming creek with the dogs and Sugarface. Summer finally arrived and the sweaty hikes and swimming adventures with our dogs are a couple of my favorite things about summers in Austin. Though much of the month was spent partaking in the usual activities of working, organizing happy hours for food bloggers, and grabbing bites with friends, I also attended two special events.

The first event was the yearly Fancy Dress Night with Sugarface’s work. I attended this event even before he did, when I used to work with his boss years ago. It was nice to still come to this tradition as an alum and a plus one. The second special occasion was the wedding of one of my besties, Thomas. I got to use my fancy minister certificate but alas, no one called me Reverend Linda.

June

June was a fun one. I had three photo shoots with friends, a baby announcement, author photos, and a couple session with Dan and Treavor. I’m happy my friends are giving me opportunities to practice portraiture! Sugarface and I ended the month road-tripping to Arkansas with Bob and Neva to celebrate the Fourth of July with his family.

July

I spent the first few days of the month with Sugarface and our dogs visiting his family (which also included 3 other dogs) in Arkansas. I’ve adored his family immediately upon meeting them last year but also come to relish all the time we spend visiting them in their home state. It’s pretty and serene and even the lack of cell service is a welcomed reprieve. Bob the dog, as far as I know had never been on a boat or in Arkansas and he took to the lifestyle. After my weekend in Arkansas, I went to Houston the following weekend to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I took the parents to see this amazing Kusama exhibit.

We came back to Austin and commemorated being together a year and a half by eating at Barley Swine.

I shot another portrait session and then decided to take a leap and against my financial judgement, splurged and bought myself a photography website.

The rest of July was spent eating a lot of ice cream and green tea desserts. I celebrated and shared my birthday at the end of the month with Neva the dog. Sugarface made me feel very special when I came home to pink purple roses and a book he saw I was ogling back in May.

August

One thing I love about travel is how it makes certain times of your life very memorable. August 2016 is now etched in my memory as the month Sugarface and I took our first international trip together. In fact, it’s the first time we got on a plane together! My biggest blogging regret this year is not properly recapping this trip to Barcelona on this blog and my food blog (except for a post about the Sagrada and two restaurants). Maybe first thing in 2017? You can find my instagram posts from Barcelona here in the meantime.

September

One month after our first international trip together, we go on our second one! Sugarface had a work trip to Toronto and I couldn’t resist joining him even if it was only for a weekend. In September I also shot my first family and judged a cooking contest sponsored by Gloria Ferrer. I also decided to grow my photography business’s efforts even further and started a dedicated instagram account.

October

Sugarface’s mom came to visit us and took us to Austin City Limits. She goes every year and this was my first time since 2007! I’ve grown quite attached to Sugarface’s mom and loved having her in Austin. For Halloween, we dressed up the dogs as crocodiles and carved our first pumpkin together (and named him Lyle). I roasted the seeds and decided I will now do this every year. I also attended the glorious Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival. Mmmm. Texas barbecue, so good it makes you dance.

Meat coma about to commence at @texasmonthly BBQ Fest.

A video posted by Linda Nguyen (@lindaeatsworld) on

November

Oh, November. I was so heartbroken by the election, I wept.

I officially added my first emceeing job to my weird batch of freelancing work and got to emcee Austin’s first Mac and Cheese Festival. I took advantage of the opportunity by sharing all the cheesy jokes I could manage without being booed off stage. Sugarface and I spent Thanksgiving in Houston with my family where we overindulged in my mom’s cooking and Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts. I also booked the most photo shoots in the month of November compared to previous months in 2016 and felt like I was making headway in my photography as a business dream!

December

We attended my friend Julie’s wedding, our 6th and last of 2016. She invited me along with 3 other women with whom we share a dinner club. It was at her wedding that I realized we photograph our food when we get together but haven’t taken one photo together in over five years of having our dinner club. We thankfully remedied that. I also photographed my first newborn multiples photo shoot. One of my favorites of the year!

Sugarface and I spent Christmas weekend in Arkansas with his family. I had Sugarface introduce me to Anthony Chapel in his hometown and it was breathtaking. I plan on requesting we stop by everytime we visit Arkansas now!

I’m not sure yet what we’re doing for New Year’s, if anything. So long as Sugarface and I hug and kiss at the stroke of midnight, I think I’d be happy wherever we are. I know this year felt heavy for many, and if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for supporting my endeavors even if just by following along. I wish you a new year filled with light, joy, and love. Happy New Year to you!

Recaps From Previous Years

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

You can probably tell if you clicked on the links in this recap that I do a lot of my life-telling on instagram. Come follow me! @lindaeatsworld @curiousnotionsphoto @bobthedogatx

Questions: What are five highlights of your 2016? Please share in the comments!

Weekend in Toronto

Weekend in Toronto

I squeezed in a baby trip to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. Sugarface was there for work and even though I couldn’t visit long, I indulged and joined him for just under 48 hours. I worried about whether it was worth the expenditure for such a short trip, but now I know I don’t regret it and would do it again! We stayed downtown and mostly kept our exploring within walking distance from our hotel. Downtown Toronto was just teeming with restaurants. We ate so well but most exciting to me was that we had poutine. I have been to Canada and have eaten poutine but I’ve never eaten poutine in Canada! (Read more about our delicious meals on my food blog.)

Aside from all the eating, we also walked by the CN Tower, visited Ripley’s Aquarium, where we were mesmerized by eels and jellyfish, and explored Graffiti Alley. During our first night there, I met an internet friend whom I’ve known for almost 6 years. I like how being a blogger has made it possible for me to have friends around the world. I’m also glad I can add Toronto to my adventures with Sugarface. We’ve only been on two international trips together, the first one not too long ago, and each time it becomes clearer how much I love having him by my side when I explore this world.

So that concludes my weekend recap in Toronto. I already miss it and want to go back. If I ever make it back, I’m definitely going to plan for a day trip to Niagara Falls! Have you ever been to Toronto?

Weekend in Toronto

Weekend in Toronto

Weekend in Toronto

July On & Off Instagram

So much has happened in August that I almost forgot how wonderful July was too. I spent the first few days of the month with Sugarface and our dogs visiting his family (which also included 3 other dogs) in Arkansas. I’ve adored his family immediately upon meeting them last year but also come to relish all the time we spend visiting them in their home state. It’s pretty and serene and even the lack of cell service was a welcomed reprieve. I saw the stars, a vision I don’t get in my everyday urban life, enjoyed being both in and on the blue lake water, and laughed at our silly dogs. Bob the dog, as far as I know had never been on a boat or in Arkansas and he took to the lifestyle.

We came back to Austin and commemorated being together a year and a half by eating at Barley Swine. And immediately after that celebration and just a week after our trip to Arkansas, I went on another weekend trip to Houston, where I dropped off Bob at his grandparents’ so I could travel to Spain later in August. In Houston, my good friend and photographer Thomas and I crossed off a Houston photography bucket list item and visited the gorgeous BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple.

Speaking of photography, I shot another portrait session of an old friend of mine and then decided to take a leap and against my financial judgement, splurged and bought myself a photography website.

The rest of July was spent eating a lot of ice cream and seeking out green tea desserts. My friend Jennifer tormented me with photos of her green tea parfaits on her social feeds. So when my friend Michelle asked where she could treat me for my birthday, I said I wanted the only green tea parfait in town I knew of, the one at Kome. She so sweetly obliged me and it was such a fun-filled evening. We requested the parfait to come during dinner instead of the end and it had us laughing like children. We then followed that meal by walking across the parking lot to a famed and classic donut shop, Mrs. Johnsons’ Donuts, where Michelle had her first fresh from the fryer donut.

That green tea parfait only inflamed my green tea dessert craving. I went to a couple of more places and still have green tea dessert friendship dates on the calendar. I celebrated and shared my birthday at the end of the month with Neva the dog. On the day of, I lunched with one of my besties during work hours, had another ice cream date, treated Neva to a cheeseburger after her birthday shoot, and Sugarface and I ate one of our favorite things, noodles. He made me feel very special when I came home to pink purple roses and a book he saw I was ogling back in May. Among some of kind surprises received from afar was a funny and beautifully shot cookbook by Chrissy Teigen.

And that was my sweet July. How was yours? What did you do for the Fourth?

July On & Off Instagram

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June On & Off Instagram

June was a fun one. I had three photo shoots with friends, a baby announcement, author photos, and a couple session with Dan and Treavor. I’m happy my friends are giving me opportunities to practice portraitures!

I ate ramen twice, which is a lot as it has been about 100 degrees in Texas lately but I don’t regret either bowl. I made dinner for my friend Julie and she gifted me pretty purple tulips that inspired me to photograph them.

Sugarface and I ended the month road-tripping to Arkansas with Bob and Neva to celebrate the Fourth of July with his family. I love that shot of Neva window-gazing during the eight hour drive. Both our puppies are so good during long car rides!

Not depicted on Instagram was a media event at McDonald’s that tickled me. There were chicken nuggets being passed out as appetizers, a doorman, DJ, and photo booth. It went down in my book as the weirdest visit to McDonald’s I’ve ever had.

June On & Off Instagram

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Questions: What are your June highlights? What are you looking forward to in August?

May On & Off Instagram

I spent the first day and last weekend in May at the same hiking trail and swimming creek with the dogs and Sugarface. Summer is finally here and the sweaty hikes and swimming adventures with our dogs are a couple of my favorite things about summers in Austin. Though much of the month was spent partaking in the usual activities of working, organizing happy hours for food bloggers, and grabbing bites with friends, I also attended two special events.

The first event was the yearly Fancy Dress Night with Sugarface’s work. I attended this event even before he did, when I used to work with his boss years ago. It’s so nice to still come to this tradition as an alum and a plus one. The second special occasion was the wedding of one of my besties, Thomas. Not depicted on Instagram was me officiating his wedding. It was such an honor and a special moment in my life.

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April On & Off Instagram

I started April strong. My dad’s birthday was on the 1st and on the 1st, I took him and my mom to Miami for the weekend. We stayed with my long time friend, Nazanin and before heading to the airport to fly back I had a mini portrait session with her. I loved her photos and am in awe of how relaxed she is in front of a camera.

After taking her photos, I declared to my friends and the internet that I am seeking more opportunities to take portraits. My friend Julie obliged and let me do the honors of shooting her engagement photos. Not depicted on Instagram was shooting professional head shots outside my day job and at my alma mater.

The nonprofit I work with as a board member hosted an open to the public Curry Cook Off. We were worried about ticket sales but ended up almost selling out, and the bar was brimmed with happy people eating delicious curries. I plan happy hours once or twice a month for the same group and April’s happy hour was as photogenic as it was tasty. Also in event happenings, my writer friend Amy had a birthday picnic at my new favorite picnic table spot in town.

As for my home life, Sugarface and I plopped down on a comically small patch of bluebonnets and it was a wonder the photo was in focus since I was shaking so hard with laughter. We took the dogs to a new to us field. Bob the dog found a creek behind the field so though the field looked promising, it’s now best to save for bath day. Finally, the soup you spy is Asian comfort food. Rice porridge also known as congee. I made a big pot of chicken congee for us when Sugarface was feeling under the weather. I love the photo of the soup so much since I’ve eaten it all my life but never thought it was photogenic! It just needed some good light, props, and someone to believe in it.

April On & Off Instagram

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March On & Off Instagram

I was tempted to skip March in my monthly recap but though I’m way tardy on this recap, it felt more wrong to skip! I find a lot of joy in tracing over happy memories. The act of writing these monthly recaps makes me happy.

March in Austin means much of the city is under siege for two weeks by SXSW. It means overwhelming crowds, functions, parties, dinners, and traffic. I usually do a few food related events and my friend Patrick Pho, one of the handful of friends I’ve met through Youtube comes very year. We had our yearly reunion with Ashley.

I adapted a recipe for pork and bok choy noodle soup and I can’t wait to make it again when the weather is cool. You can see the pin of the original recipe and my notes of my adaption here. We ate it three days in a week and I didn’t tire of it. Also pictured on instagram, was one of my dogs dressed for St. Patrick’s Day, a homemade meal of Vietnamese crepes that my mom made me during a weekend trip, and doing some filming with Youtube star Furious Pete.

Sugarface and I attended our third wedding of the year. This one was our first Indian wedding and we felt so honored to be part of our friend’s day. The groom used to be one of my coworkers at the job from which we were both laid off. More specifically, he sat one desk over. Through our years at our former job, he has felt like a younger brother to me. I’m happy that despite us no longer seeing each other regularly, we still remain close and close to our mutual professional mentor who was also in attendance. It was a heart-warming celebration to end the month of March.

Not depicted on Instagram, I got ordained as a minister. I even paid extra for the paper certificate which came with a parking pass that makes me giggle. I told Sugarface I’ll frame it next to his PhD! You can call me Reverend Linda now.

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