Recently I finally found inspiration and motivation again to get back into the creativity world. I have been practicing on more silhouette pattern drawings and learning to watercolor with different techniques. I am still trying to find my 'style' and 'subjects' so maybe this year will just be a time of exploring those further. My peaceful place.

Winter is slowly peeling away while I practice. I have a long mental list of things I want to accomplish and try this year. It is stirring a feeling in me; opening up to another year of new memories.

一期一会 (ichi-go ichi-e)

id. literal meaning: "One opportunity, one encounter". This basically means treasure every encounter because it will never happen again.


hello, 2017


Where did 2016 go? I mean, how did it fly by us just like that? My first year in my first home. I guess we did a lot last year, but with my poor, spotty memory I'm having trouble recalling everything--except that I was finally in a good place at work, spent the first half of the year making the house livable, a few short trips here and there, the usual summer events, and then fall came with the AU trip followed by the holidays..! There were ups, downs, losses, discoveries. It was quite a year--exactly what life is about, isn't it?

Last year I didn't have time for noodlenthread, picking up Japanese again, and more house projects. So those are the [main] goals I'm giving myself this new year, plus a few other new things. The secret ingredients I could use some help with? Motivation, inspiration, discipline, and routine. What I could use less of? Laziness.

I got you, 2017. Happy new year.


it's just the beginning...

noodlenthread - angie pham

So 30 came and went just like that -- but can't I just stay 30 forever?  :-)

It treated me so well with all the right timing in the world. I finally have a more permanent place to come home to that wasn't just my parents house where I grew up in. I finally found a new job that I enjoy doing and learning every day. I finally feel like a proper adult who is on the path to somewhere that isn't backward or in circles.

This past year has been rewarding, and it made me feel like maybe I could really go up from here. Maybe I could focus on some things I have been putting off in my life. Maybe I could be where I want to be. Maybe I could actually feel more satisfied than I ever was.

The thirties are supposed to be the peak of a woman's life, right? Well then, I am ready for the best 10 years of my life!  :-)

happy 2016

From The Holstee Manifesto


This is my first entry of the year, and I'm not exactly sure where to start. Reflections on 2015? Goals for 2016? Life is unpredictable?


Okay, let's rewind it first.


I had a feeling it would be a year of changes (not 2015 itself, but the year in this age). Changes that would set me on another different path in the road for the next several years. I guess the 30s is where your adulthood starts becoming more defined and refined. I (much to everyone's, including my own, surprise) became a homeowner for the first time (with my partner) right before the end of 2015. Yep, this was after we moved in to an apartment 7 months ago. Things happened so quickly and suddenly--we felt like it was almost surreal. Somehow we were pushed/nudged along to that point (I really believed it was fate) despite our plan to continue with the way things were for a while--at least until a few months into the following year. But we are in a much happier place we now call home.

Another new year always bring back that good ol' motivation and many hopes of accomplishing new goals (or same ones abandoned from last year), taking new risks or learning something new. But to tell you the truth, I did not decide on any new exciting goals this year. I just want to concentrate on making my new place a cozy home and get back to noodlenthread again. Yes, there will still be traveling or checking off my bucketlist, of course. But they are already basic requirements in my [life] book. :-)

Cliché as it may sound, I have not felt this lucky and grateful as I am right now for a long time. Time heals wounds and fades them into scars. Time forgives and forgets. Time presents opportunities for us to grab, even if they are not always there when we need them. I can only hope that I will continue to try my best to be kinder to, easier on, and better with the time I am blessed to have in this world and here on our earth.

I truly hope your year will be a good one as well. ♡

italy & tips

italy venice
italy florence
italy venice
italy rome

To see more photos of Italy, please click here.

Italy was the second country I visited after France. My first stop was Florence. Well, I stayed at an agritourism lodging place in Tuscany, which was about 35 minutes drive outside of Florence. Unfortunately we hit cold and rainy weather after leaving Nice so most of the time I was fighting off mosquitoes and driving/walking in the rain. It felt almost like Paris all over again (weather really impacts mood and experience during traveling for me). Florence was beautiful from a view at the top. There were a ton of leather shops, regular shops and restaurants. I spent a couple days exploring Florence and thought that was enough. It wasn't as amazing or my favorite city so far like I have heard from other people that had visited Italy. I visited touristy Pisa, nearby areas in Tuscany, and then I was ready to leave.

Venice was my second favorite part/city of the whole trip (after Nice). The weather blessed me with some sun for almost the whole time I was there (1.5 days). I got to see water again! So of course my mood came back up again. Venice is a very small, interesting city that survives on foundations beneath the water. There are also no cars whatsoever in the city, so that was very refreshing. Yes, the canals are stinky and some alleys might be very dirty. But you're in Europe--it's expected. Every canal path was so picturesque I wanted to snap a picture at every turn (sounds familiar?). The grand canal was amazing, though. Food and shopping aren't exactly known for in Venice, but I didn't mind taking a break from that to just enjoy this 'floating' city as it is.

Rome was my last destination before heading back to Seattle. Before arriving there, I was thinking, oh god it's going to rain like the weather has been forecasting and it will be even dirtier and stinkier than all the previous cities I've visited since Paris. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. It was the last leg of the trip, and at that point I was ready to go home. But Rome was less touristy (thank goodness for off-season October), warmer weather and no rain (yay!),  and some of the best Italian food (compared to other places I ate at before coming to Rome). Shopping was also much better since Rome is a slightly bigger city (we found a huge 5-story Zara).

Some tips I learned while traveling in Italy:

  • Many restaurants in Italy has a 'cover' charge ranging from 3-6 euros per person. It's basically a service fee (or automatic tips charge). This is kind of hard to avoid, especially at the better restaurants
  • When buying leather goods, look for labels inside that say, Made in Italy and Genuine Leather

france & tips

france st paul de vence
france nice
paris bookstore
france cannes

To see more photos of France, please click here.

I visited France for the first time back in October. I traveled to Paris, then took the train down to Nice. While in South of France, I visited Cannes (not much there except the beaches and shopping/eating on one long strip of street, Monaco (very modern and rich but no character or culture) and several old villages (Tourettes, St. Paul, St. Paul de Vence, Eze) up in the mountains. My favorite part of France was definitely in South of France. There were beaches, the beautiful Mediterranean sea, sun, warmth and a much more relaxing lifestyle than urban Paris.

It was fall, so Paris was very cold and rainy. I only stayed for 2.5 days and wanted to do/see a lot in those days. It was tiring and hectic, not to mention I was already so jet lagged and sick from the flight there. The Paris I saw and experienced was cold and wet, unlike the movies I've see--but perhaps I should give the city another chance in the future. When it is much warmer and drier, of course, and with more days to explore at a leisure pace. I did really like the expansive restaurant options, super trendy boutiques (that I can't afford) and the huge, old-style buildings dominating every block of the city. It was old and romantic in a way, but still breathes tourism and urban life.

When I got to Nice, it was about 20 degrees warmer and my mood lifted right away. I was so happy to see beaches/water again. Nice is small city with less things compared to Paris, but it was just what I needed after Paris. I rented a car and drove to other places outside the city. Did I mention I LOVED my Airbnb place in Nice? It had a great view of the city and the sea, all white space with so much room, clean and included all the amenities we wanted. I was very sad to leave the place because I knew all of our other places would not come close (and I was right).

The tiny old villages I visited up in the mountains in South of France were so charming and beautiful. Every turn was a photographer's dream. I could get lost in a maze of cobblestone paths and tiny alleyways. My favorite village was St. Paul de Vence. These villages had so many art galleries and art boutiques. More than anywhere in the big cities..! I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was artsy and charming.

Some tips I learned while traveling in France:

  • Stay in Le Marais--it's a cool/trendy neighborhood (my favorite area in Paris!)
  • Always ask specifically for 'tap' water at restaurants (unless they don't have it) because it's free, otherwise they will bring mineral bottled water and it's VERY expensive
  • Almost everything is closed on Sundays in South of France, except a few big chain shops
  • Free street parking from 8PM-9AM, and all day Sundays in Nice
  • Free parking at ParcAzur with the purchase of RT tram/bus tickets from 5AM-1:30AM in Nice
  • Monoprix is a good supermarket for almost everything you need
  • No credit cards under 10 euros
  • Tram tickets can be purchased at ticket machines at some tram stops or at Lignes Azure in front of Nice Ville Gare (Nice Train Station) and rides are based on the honor system (no one checks on the trams)

food (france & italy)

rome pasta
france seafood
italy pasta
france french food

These are some of my favorite meals in France and Italy. French food is quite heavy and I just cannot eat it every day. But I love pasta so I ate it almost every day (twice a day) for almost two weeks. Food in Italy was also generally cheaper than in France. However, I was really craving for good Asian food throughout the trip, so I managed to squeeze in some pho in Paris (it was actually yummy and authentic!), a nice Japanese meal in Nice and then Shin Ramen cup noodle as my last meal. =)


After five weeks, I am able to use 90% of my right hand again. So I have been drawing away and practicing my fingers mobility. I am also starting hand therapy soon in hopes of getting my hand/wrist completely back to normal.

Lately my drawings are inspired by Millie Marotta's work to motivate my creativity and help me with detailed doodling of geometrical shapes, lines and patterns. I am aiming for one finished drawing a day, and my goal is to eventually incorporate them with watercolors.

See more drawings here.


Last night I watched a short video clip (above) posted by a friend on Facebook and it kind of resonated with me. Had it on repeat for a couple times to let the words sink in a little deeper. Life has been conflicting and muddled recently with what I am really trying to do here and how I am spending it, in big picture. It comes and goes, but it is always lurking in the shadows.

How often do you feel like you have pressured yourself to accomplish something, whether it's because you try to be a responsible person, or because you constantly try to measure up against something? Compare your life and your accomplishments (or lack thereof) to others? Be your own toughest critic? Or all of the above? Doesn't that just sound stressful and toxic? Sometimes you need a bit of competition to motivate yourself, but more often than not that competition is misdirected.

How often do you want to do too many things because time is 'so short' and it 'flies by so fast'? You might see people doing things they want and you want to do just as much to get somewhere, anywhere, in life. Be seen, noticed, appreciated, envied, valued, loved, respected, successful, and so on. It is so exhausting. What about be you?

Step back, slow down, and breathe. Lose some battles. Let go.

Remember who we are as a human being. Continue to search and dig deep to find what 'being happy' means [differently] to each one of us.


noodlenthread - exit glacier
noodlenthread - mt alyeska
noodlenthread - crab roll la baleine cafe
noodlenthread - salty dawg bar
noodlenthread - alaska
noodlenthread - morning star

These are some photos I was able to capture on the first couple days during our long weekend trip to Alaska. A few highlights: the short hike up to Exit Glacier in the wind and rain, going up Mt. Alyeska for a beautiful view of the mountains and the crab sandwich in Homer (I can't leave without at least one delicious meal from any trip).

Alaska seemed like a perfect place for the true outdoor explorers, the be-one-with-nature seekers and the simple lifers. Mountains are vast and trees are endless. Pristine blue lakes gleam and glaciers bleed under the skies. You could be lost or disappear completely (literally and figuratively) from the rest of the world here. Maybe one day, I'll return again.

A friend had asked me if my outlook in life changed after Alaska. I was somewhat surprised to hear myself answered, Not really, no. Even though it was scary and I was shaken up, somehow I did not want to interpret what happened as a life-changing moment that should set my life on a different path. Perhaps a deluded part of me only grasps that the impact of death could truly be the twist of life. And that had already happened four years ago. My mindset has vastly changed since then.

Nothing will measure up, anything can happen, and everything else isn't so bad.

"It could be worse." is what I usually remind myself nowadays.

eye what you eat

Food lovers should watch these short video clips produced by Cebu Osani Films and directed by founder Erik Shirai. My favorite ones are the Deep Fry (shown above) and Pasta.

"Eye What You Eat is a series that creates a vivid imaginary world to showcase popular culinary techniques. The series was created to allow viewers to look at food in completely different perspective and allow more people to become..."  ---Cebu Osani Films

I missed the chance to see their film The Birth of Sake during the Seattle International Film Festival--hoping to find another way to watch it..! In the meantime, there is also I Am What I Eat or A Shot in the Dark on the website to tickle your creative curiosity.

Video from Cebu Osani Films


I recently finished these two books back-to-back and I must say, I haven't read books this entertaining in a long time. The protagonist is almost imperfectly yet charmingly adorable. It's a rare witty chick lit (a genre that is typically corny and plain to me nowadays) with a lot to relate to.

The first book (The Rosie Project) is about a genetics professor who is always struggling to maintain relationships with women (and also with people in general). So he devises a questionnaire to find the perfect partner. When he meets Rosie, a woman who doesn't fit his criteria (and failed his questionnaire), his world turns upside down in the most delightful way. The second book (The Rosie Effect) is about life with Rosie and more real-life struggles that he has to deal with beyond having a relationship with a woman.

If you're looking for the next book to read, try The Rosie Project first.



Been drawing random things with ink (this particular one [above] took many hours/days to fill up the 9x11in paper--completed version not pictured here) while watching tv shows and movies. Just so that I could maximize my free time as much as possible. Without compromising sleep, of course.

I am also thinking of new illustrated designs for my labels. I will be making another big batch of soy candles later this month, along with some shower bombs. The first set labels I created looked like this (pretty simple). Drawing is definitely not my forte, but who couldn't doodle, right?

And what can I say...arts & crafts and diys make me happy. ☺


noodlenthread - jewelry
noodlenthread - jewelry

I finished two more jewelry pieces (necklace and bracelet) to add to the collection this past weekend. I love to use and wear gold now (maybe as I grew older), so the majority of what I make is gold-filled (otherwise sterling silver).

It is so nice to not have to buy most of my jewelry ever again (except for rings because I don't want to weld anything right now). I also love creating/designing a new jewelry piece--and being able to do that whenever I wish (in the comfort of my studio at home) is very convenient. My next challenge would probably be creating more variety to the earrings.

baby breaths

noodlenthread - flowers

I love adding baby breaths to bouquets and various decorations. They are versatile yet so simple. I bought a bunch a couple weeks ago, and used them for a bridal bouquet, shelf decor and desktop flower vase.