Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

23 Mar '18  — looking to get back to normal

For the last few days, I’ve been upset.

“Why am I so fidgety? I can’t focus!”

I would decide to do one thing but before beginning, I’d change my mind.

“Why can’t I get back to my normal self?”

It was frustrating to notice the difference. There were so many thoughts running through my head, each on its own tangent.

“Wait… why do I need focus? Why must I have mental clarity?”

After I got over myself, it was easy to enjoy the chaos. It won’t be here everyday, why not take advantage?


23 Mar '18  — comfortable things I need in order to get by

cozy things

I wanted to do a video about the things I’m enjoying but after filming the coffee I’m adoring, I decided to talk about the rest here.

Products come and go. They characterize me at a particular point in my life. Other’s might talk about music but I’m more likely to talk about what I use and ingest: coffee, tea, and snacks.

Although it’s technically spring, I can’t get enough of things that keep me warm.

I. New Thermos Bottle: Contigo

I always carry an insulated bottle because I prefer warmer water and I like having hot teas. The last few months, I was carrying a thermos bottle from Klean Kanteen. It looked so chic at Whole Foods but when I brought it home, it leaked. I had to hold the bottle upright and I couldn’t throw it in a bag.

For the past few months, my right hand became a permanent cup holder. I’m happy to finally relax my grip. Contigo fully locks in water, I can throw it any way without water dripping out. My husband came across the bottle and purchased it for me after hearing someone recommend it on Youtube.

The only problem I have with it is that that the water doesn’t stay piping hot when I wake up in the morning. Klean Kanteen was better at keeping my drink warm, not piping hot, but overall, Contigo is far more convenient.

II. Afternoon Tea: Numi’s Breakfast Blend

My mom has friends in the tea business so we’re stocked with quality teas. However, the whole leaf teas we get from her are so caffeinated that we drink them only in the morning.

I just want something relaxing for the afternoons. Numi’s breakfast tea is as mild as Lipton or Tetley but because it’s organic, I feel better. I don’t physically feel better, I just rest comfortably thinking it may be better. It’s got no strange exotic scents or flavors that usually come with gourmet teas.

III. A Naturally Sweet Snack: Banana Chips

I love plantain chips so I was open to trying Banana Chips I found at Costco. Bare Snacks is a brand from California. They bake slices of bananas until they’re super crisp.

The instant I put them in my mouth, I thought the chips were flavored with honey. But there’s no added sugar despite the super sweetness.

I’m always looking for ways to have something sweet but without sugar. I can’t say I feel my best after having these chips, but it’s fun and addictive to eat.

A major problem with snacking on these is that the chips get stuck to your teeth.

IV. Applesauce for Polish Pancakes: Hi J Orchards

My husband makes Polish pancakes on the weekends. They’re traditionally filled with apple sauce. Since store-bought apple sauce usually tastes more like preservatives than apples, I have to cook down apples to get a natural version.

It’s a lot of work so I’m always on the lookout for applesauce that doesn’t taste bad. Luckily, I found Hi J Orchards. The applesauce tastes almost exactly like how I’d make them at home. No preservative tastes and there’s no added sugar.

The one I purchased was made from Honeycrisp apples and there was another made from Fuji apples. My husband, unfortunately, did not enjoy the cinnamon. That’s when I realized that the addition of cinnamon in applesauce is American–perhaps it’s not a given people enjoy it.

V. Warming My Feet: electric blanket

My feet get extremely cold. I have trouble warming them up and I’ve tried many things: hot water bottles, foot baths… It was nice to discover a way to directly heat my feet–by turning on an electric blanket.

It sounds like something old people get but the version I got is the size of a small mat. It fits just over my feet and not much more. I can also wrap it around my waist when I feel uncomfortable. I wish I had known about it earlier.

VI. For insulating my Starter Yeast: Le Parfait Jars

I need jars for my sourdough yeast and for pickling. In Berlin, I was using Weck and in the States, I’ve used mason jars. But Le Parfait Jars are precisely the size I need. The opening is large enough for me to work with, the sizes are not too small or big compared to the other brands.

Le Parfait is from France but I only came across them in the US. They’re carried in so many places here in the states but I’ve never seen them in Germany. Perhaps Germans don’t have such a fascination with things French–they probably wouldn’t sell as well.


22 Mar '18  — feeling excluded

I was watching a vlogger and he announced that he and his girlfriend are now just friends.

I felt cheated. Why did he show me how great of a time he was having? Absorbing new cultures while traveling couldn’t have been the main thing ‘going on’. I followed him on so many gimmicky excursions but the most extraordinary–he kept for himself.

Will there ever be vlogs where people talk about what’s actually happening?

I guess it would be too close to reality shows, people discussing impressions of each other in front of a camera. Maybe it’s better there isn’t more of that.


21 Mar '18  — a risky lifestyle that looks unexciting from the outside

“I end up with people who love me so much that I think it’s enough for the both of us. I don’t choose, I’m chosen and my new life is to choose. Someone’s got all the boxes and they’re so in love with me, they treat me so well, they’re such a good person or I think that they are and then I get on the road in the wrong fucking car and I’m like ‘Why are we in Virginia when I was on the way to Tokyo?’ I’ve done it multiple times, wrong car. Get me out of this car while it’s moving.” - Bethenny Frankel on Ask Gary Vee

When I was in my twenties, I kept meeting people who were excited to be with me. They were so excited to the point I thought, why not?

I was excited that they were excited. I didn’t have the guts to approach anyone that excited me. The people I ended up dating were people who gave me the impression that they were privileged to be with me.

It didn’t help that I got all my early relationship advice from Sex and the City. “It’s always better to marry someone who loves you more than you love them.” - Season 1 Episode 9

I was scared. ‘Isn’t it better that others are taking the risk of getting hurt? If I went out with someone I truly admired, it might suck a lot when they realize they’re too cool for me.’

It was a whole decade of not taking any risks. I got no rewards.

When I met my husband, I thought he was an exciting person. It was towards the end of my twenties and I had developed a little more confidence. I no longer needed to cling to anyone who was slightly impressed with me. That confidence allowed me to reach out to him, someone who is out-of-my-league cool.

It’s amazing to see how that courage came from an incremental amount of confidence.

And I still feel like I’m taking a risk daily despite being married to him.


20 Mar '18  — Should I keep this?

I’m helping my mom clean the house because she’s moving out. I found an old Sony camcorder and some tapes. When I plugged it in, it still worked.

‘Should I keep this?’

It was bulky. The tapes recorded in lower resolution than any new phone. I found an adapter online: $200 if you want tapes imported onto your computer.

There was an additional box of old cameras and lenses. They seemed so valuable. The lenses were great.

‘Maybe I can take more analog photos…’

Maybe I do have interest but it’s not much. I didn’t want to own these cameras but I felt obligated to consider them because they have value.

If there was something valuable to other people and you don’t find value in it, would you keep it? Or exchange it right away for something that’s valuable to you?

When I was in third grade, we had to write a report on a president. The teacher shuffled president names into a hat and everyone grabbed one. I got Kennedy. I didn’t understand other’s fascination with him other than the conspiracy theories. Everyone told me I was lucky so I went to the person who had Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, to exchange Kennedy.

Unlike presidents, I couldn’t immediately convert the value I found in camera immediately into something I valued. After mulling for an hour (it was stressful and something I did not want to be doing), I decided it would be better if I donated the cameras to Goodwill.

It was difficult. But the decision would have been made easier if I just didn’t have the option to keep them, if I didn’t have any space for them.


19 Mar '18  — two opposite reasons for liking the same thing

‘Ummm, your colors are all messed up. Your perspective is wrong. It’s impossible that you’d be good at anything like this.”

My dad told me how bad my drawings were. I didn’t understand how his comments were relevant. By saying I was bad, he seemed to say that skill should be taken into account when pursuing an activity. Then I realized that I draw precisely because I’m terrible at it.

coffee time

When I sketch out a picture that I’m directly looking at, I’m always surprised how much I miss. The cup is above a teapot, yet I place it right at the same level. It’s fascinating to see my blindspots.

That’s why I continue to draw. I don’t think I’d enjoy it if I knew how to do it.

My dad, on the other hand, is good at art. He never fails to mention how many painting competitions he’s won as a child. He enjoys the activity because he’s good at it.

Why someone is attracted to an activity may be the exact opposite reason why another is attracted to the same activity.

I might enjoy another activity particularly because I’m good at it. It’s rewarding and nice. Not everything has to be challenging.

Although it’s easy to jump to conclusions, it cannot be rationalized that someone likes something simply because they’re good at it.


18 Mar '18  — a lullaby for adults

We just moved into a new apartment. I was disappointed to hear noises upstairs. The first morning, I woke up because I heard the floorboards creak and a dog scratching.

‘This is not good! I need to get good sleep or else I’ll be in bad shape to do anything!’

But as I sat and listened to toilet water trickling through pipes, I realized that it’s probably best that I react to noises.

When in human history has any population slept well?

There’s all this talk about getting a good night’s sleep. It’s a thing that ‘responsible people’ pay attention to. I’ve been told to make good choices, like not listening to energetic music in the evening, and not to eat so late…

So many times I’ve attempted to get a good night’s sleep. I know for a fact it’s not something I can choose.

I doubt our human ancestors slept well.

When humans were nomadic beings, they were probably happy to wake up to the slightest sound. Homo Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years and they were hunter gatherers until 10,000 years ago. My inability to sleep is what allows me to be here today.

And now I want to construct a way to disable this survival mechanism? Or encase myself in an environment where my survival mechanism can’t be activated? It’s unnatural.

It is not true, you don’t have to get a good nights sleep–no time in history were we entitled rest just as we’re not entitled to all the money we want. I could be healthier with a lot more money. I could use the money to hire a chef to cook healthy meals just like I could use the extra sleep to have a well rested body. Money and sleep are healthy to have.

I shouldn’t feel pressure to have something that happens to very few humans. But I cannot escape being upset when I don’t get a good night’s sleep.


17 Mar '18  — a skill I have yet to learn

I was watching a special on a stately home in the UK. Back a hundred years ago, when a female aristocrat married a male aristocrat, she was expected to run the household of the huge mansion her husband owned. This meant managing the staff, hundreds of people who cooked and cleaned the ginormous house.

There were probably tips and tricks she’d learn from finishing school. There aren’t so many good practices for the modern equivalent of such work.

It’s uncommon for anyone to have such a large home, but the idea of running a home so smoothly that it can facilitate the ‘more important’ activities is something that I’m interested in. While banquets and social gatherings were important back then, today’s important activity may just be a day at the computer at home.

What normally happens? My husband and I want to eat healthy. We tell ourselves we’ll cook something nutritious. We go out for groceries, then get hungry and convince each other to stop by the burger place on our way home. That’s what happens on a good day.

Most days we argue before settling on a restaurant. “It’s your turn to choose.” “But you didn’t like my suggestion. You choose.” After eating out so many times, you get tired of the food choices.

Most restaurants we visit, we regret. Dishes that are tasty when sitting down become burdensome to digest. We lose energy, feel lethargic when performing more important activities.

homemade soup How can we get into the rhythm of preparing nutritious (and delicious) food at home?

I’m inspired by my mom, who can whip up a meal in seconds. But she uses a lot of cheese. When she can’t think of anything, pizza is ordered at amazing speed. It happens once a week.

For me, I have several go-to recipes, but I get tired of making the same thing. I do enjoy cooking but I just don’t know what to cook most of the time.

There are a ton of health gurus online that seem to be living a well maintained lifestyle. However, when you look at their recipes, they’re eating a lot of yogurt, granola, having a fruit salad or a smoothie for a meal.

I have yet to come across a reliable source of info but it seems this topic of feeding oneself isn’t widely addressed.

I will attempt to find out. I’m going to start by trying out new recipes. They need to be nutritious, it shouldn’t leave me feeling terrible and shouldn’t take an enormous amount of time. If they do take time, they should be delicious enough where I’ll be okay freezing a large batch and reheating later.

It might sound like there’s enough info out there but there isn’t. Most food related content online and off use food to describe a lifestyle. I’ve tested many blogger cookbooks and I’m shocked how poor the recipes are. The books are filled with beautiful food photos but the recipes are not meant for cooking.

Despite how many new cookbooks I’ve come across, none explain how delicious recipes can be realistically worked into a normal person’s lifestyle, everyday.


16 Mar '18  — another change

My husband and I moved out of my parent’s house. I haven’t had my own kitchen for six months!

I don’t know how to start…what should I buy at the grocery store? Bread, cheese, oatmeal…things that I can use to throw together a quick meal? Why is it so hard to remember?

I got spoiled. My mom couldn’t help but cook for us while we stayed with her. I didn’t know what to do this evening and had cereal for dinner.

A Crock Pot is on our shopping list. It’ll be a good way to ease into cooking again.

For now we’re settled in an apartment. It’s surprising how much we can hear from our neighbor upstairs. Not much different than our apartment in Berlin.

After staying at my parents house, I’ve realized how much I want a house. No upstairs neighbors, no restrictive rules set by property managers…endless possibilities.

Or so it seems.

the beginning of a long journey


15 Mar '18  — a multi-generational illness

My dad has always had extra marital affairs. I used to judge him harshly, but I’ve found a way to forgive and let go of any hard feelings.

His brothers and sisters, however, have had a hard time. A few found ways to forgive and even welcome the women in his life. But most characterize him as a bad role model.

They literally say he’s bad. Not because he did anything bad to them in particular, but because of the way he chooses to live his life.

I was catching up with my aunt this morning. She couldn’t help bring up the fact that my dad is a bad role model. There were so many things we could talk about since we hadn’t spoken for awhile. For some reason, she had to talk about my dad.

I’ve already let it go. But I remember what it was like to think of my father as a bad role model. It felt bad inside. I felt that I was the victim, that my father was torturing me through his lifestyle. ‘Why is he so selfish? Why did he choose to be a dad then not want to fulfill his role? Why is he so lazy?’ It feels terrible to have negative thoughts about a person close to you. I empathized with my aunt.

The victim of extramarital affairs, or an ‘immoral lifestyle’ isn’t just my mom but the entire family. My relatives are so upset at my dad that they can’t feel good when they think of him.

Infidelity is an issue that pushes everyone’s buttons. That’s probably why it’s the running theme in the longest running soap operas.

I remember the day I forgave my dad. My husband and I were on a motorcycle riding back to Berlin through the countryside. There were storm clouds that moved so quickly. I watched curtains of heavy rain and lightning move really close to us. Thunder was clapping a millisecond after lightning. The whole time I was worried I’d get rained on but never did. It was exhilarating.

At that moment in my life, I was at the height of being upset at my dad. But experiencing that theatrical natural phenomenon–I couldn’t help but realize how wonderful my life is. There’s so much danger yet I was safe. I had more than enough. I had enough to forgive.

What happened after was unexpected. I thought my dad would be the one happy. But instead, I was rewarded: no more heavy negative feelings of anger. I no longer felt like a victim.

The relatives who do not have what it takes to forgive continue to suffer.

It’s a strange thing to empathize with this sort of suffering. It’s not as tangible as empathizing with the spouse being cheated on, but I’ve had more experience with this form than any other form of suffering.