Bonding with Family

Irene2-5This kitty’s name is Mignon, meaning “small” in French (she is my lovely friend’s little angel). What a cute kitty she is. I’ve never seen a cat

that likes to be massaged, and it seems she is really enjoying the moment. Mignon usually hides in the closet or her own private place. When she hears us visiting, sooner than later she often appears, wanting a massage from me. Can you imagine how cute that scene is?

Mignon is easily startled, like most kitties, if we accidentally dropped things on the floor, she usually runs away and hides. Cats exhibit natural actions that are simply cute, such as when they are licking their own fur and when they are meowing, too cute to describe. Mignon does not like to be bothered at times, taking a picture with her can be quite challenging.

I’ve observed these little things while playing with Mignon:

When she curls her paws, it means she is feeling very comfortable, similar to when she is suckling milk from her mom when she was little; when you hear her purring sound, it means she is satisfied and happy; she keeps herself very clean, she would often lick her own paw and then wipe her head with her paw to keep clean; when her eye pupils are almond shaped, it means she is in a relaxed state.

I have many dear friends who are animal lover, and I also enjoy the companionship of cats and dogs. Ever since my Little White passed away due to old age (a Labrador mix), friends have encouraged me to adopt cats or dogs from the shelter. I am still thinking about it, the pain of our furry friends departing is simply too great at times…..

What I really want to say is this: let’s love the small animals that surround us and respect life, because we are all God’s unique creation. Although Little White has gone to heaven for almost a year, I still think about him. There was one instance in particular that was hard to forget: toward the end of his life, there was one day when I was taking an extended walk with him, all of a sudden, he knelt down, was breathing heavily, and had difficulty rising up again. I was terrified and knelt down to see if he was okay. My heart was filled with unimaginable anxiety and I uttered, don’t worry, I will be here, rest a little. I noticed Little White’s eyes were filled with tears, but I also noticed that my own tears had dripped onto his paws, perhaps he cried after seen my tears.


Remembering Little White:

Little White has been a loyal friend to the end, always there to greet us when we return home, and always there waiting to send us off when we leave the house. Always so full of energy, playful, and protective. We are thankful to God that we got to see him one last time before he left for heaven. We only wish that we could’ve spent more time with him from when he was growing up to when he was aging into his senior years. We are so very lucky that we were able to be part of the same family in this life time. So many sweet memories, and yet so much sorrow when a loved one departs, life is so contradictory. May God bless your soul, we miss u so dearly.

Summer travel, where are you planning to visit?

If you have a chance to visit Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) is a must see destination. Situated high up in the mountains in central Taiwan, lots of Asian movies and TV series had scenes filmed at Sun Moon Lake. For example, one popular Korean TV drama called “On Air” from 2008, was shot on location at Sun Moon Lake’s Lalu Hotel (涵碧樓). This particular Korean TV drama was sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and thus many other scenes in the TV series were filmed on location at other notable Taiwan tourist attractions such as the National Palace Museum (故宮), the historic Jioufen Village (九份), and many other locations.

sun moon lakeThe Lalu Hotel started out its existence in the early 1900s as a vacation house. It was later rebuilt into an official government house for the occupying Japanese military. After 1949, it became President Chiang Kai-Shek’s many retreats in Taiwan that was used primarily for vacation purposes and to entertain foreign head of states. In 1998, the property was sold to a private investor who then spent the next 5 years on renovation. The result was the present day Lalu Hotel. The official grand opening date for this hotel was March 3, 2002.

My fate with the Lalu Hotel started out one summer many years ago while on family vacation. Luckily, I was able to visit this place 5 times since. Every visit brought unique memories and experiences. The beautiful mountain setting, combined with award winning architectural and landscape designs, create an environment that is almost heaven on earth. Peaceful surroundings, breathtaking views of Sun Moon Lake, fresh mountain air, and hearty breakfasts prepared by the hotel staff, all contribute to vivid memories that are simply unforgettable. Taiwan is an island nation full of stunning natural sceneries. If you are in a mood for an exotic faraway vacation, why not consider visiting the Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan? Take a well-deserved break from your busy schedule, and go on a vacation that will relax you from head to toe.


Thinking back toward one of my stays at the Lalu Hotel, the experience was pure enjoyment. During the 1st night at the hotel, after relaxing at our room for about 40 minutes while savoring the complimentary fruit plate, we visited the hotel’s hot tub and sauna facilities. We were then led by hotel staff to their Spa Suites. After choosing our favorite scented oils for the upcoming body massage, we stayed inside the steam room for about 20 minute. We were then seated and our feet soaked in warm water filled with scented oil and rose petals, while enjoying cups of comfort tea. What follows next is 60 minutes of body massage. At the beginning of the massage, I had my doubts as to whether this session was going to be like other spas that use gimmicks such as striking a gong to appear professional, or if the masseuse wasn’t going to be any good at his/her craft. I was pleasantly surprised after the session ended. The hand techniques and pressure level employed by the masseuse was very good. And of course, the romantic spa suite surrounding also contributed to a positive experience. After the relaxing scented body oil massage session, I had one of the best night of sleep ever. (The hotel offers spa discounts for overnight guests, it’s a worthwhile experience if you are visiting the hotel). I also recommend staying in the stand-alone villas that are on the property. These villas offer an unique experience and the ultimate privacy over standard guest rooms. Experience it for yourself.

The hotel offers excellent breakfast and afternoon tea menus, don’t miss the chance to try both of these during your visit.

Before leaving Sun Moon Lake area, make sure to visit the Antique Assam Tea Farm (日月老茶廠) to purchase fine examples of Taiwanese tea. The facility is not far from the hotel.

In closing, while you are in Taiwan, don’t forget to try out the wide selection of tasty Taiwanese cuisine such as the Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (鼎泰豐). You won’t regret it.


Paris Adventure Journal


Whoohooo! As I am reviewing my daily notes, my mind is in Paris again……

Although January might not be the best time to visit Paris weather-wise, I still cherish the 2 weeks I have spent there.

Day 1

This is the first time I’ve rented a vacation apartment on my overseas trip. Due to our extended stay, our Parisian friend suggested vacation rentals for additional living space and comfort, we obliged. As a result, we brought along travel sized items such as tooth paste, hair shampoo, fabric softening sheet, clothing detergent, and garbage bags; items that we won’t necessarily bring if we were staying in hotels. The process for renting vacation apartments was easier than we imagined, simply select the area (district) of interest and price range, and review customer comments/pictures to pick the best feeling apartment. And of course we had help from our Parisian friend in avoiding the unsafe areas. The website we used was

We arrived at Paris on a rainy day. When we got to the apartment, the owner was waiting for us at a corner Café. When he saw us get off the taxi with our luggage and heading toward the apartment, he promptly walked toward us and greeted us. It turned out he also just got back from an overseas trip to Brazil.

Our rental apartment was at a very convenient location with grocery stores and restaurants close-by. A Metro mass transit station is right around the corner. Cafes, Bakery stores, boutique stores, and the Pompidou Museum are also within walking distance. Every morning at 8am we would hear the tower bell ring from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Although the weather was rainy and damp, the excellent view out the windows at the apartment more than made up for the depressing weather. The apartment was splendid as we could feel the care and effort that went into decorating the place. The owner placed red wines, tea bags, and French branded coffee capsules in the kitchen cabinet to compliment our stay. With such a comfortable apartment, an extended stay is an excellent experience in fine Parisian living and culture.

p.s. in Paris, a majority of apartment buildings do not have elevators. With the narrow spiraling stairs, dragging heavy luggage up and down the floors is not an easy task. When picking Parisian apartment rentals, don’t forget to make sure an elevator is available.

Day 2

Everyday day in Paris, we try to slow down our pace by relaxing at a Café, enjoy a cup of latte or tea, then proceed to our next destination. Today we explored the Madeleine Square area, which is full of high-end luxury good stores, artisan retail stores such as Fauchon and Mariage, and representative French clothing brand stores such as Saint James. There are also luxury tableware retailers such as Villeroy & Boch.

Day 3

Today, we found an excellent local bakery store close to our apartment, the store is Pain de sucre (

In Paris, the pastry/bakery business is extremely competitive because French pastry skills are among the world’s best. Neighborhood bakeries and dessert stores are abundant. During our trip, we try to visit different pastry stores, but there is one in particular that I want to visit everyday, which is Pain de sucre. Their pastry creations are unique, delicious, and of such high quality that it’s difficult to describe in words. The next time we are in Paris, for sure we will be visiting this pastry store again.

For the first few days in Paris, having a great croissant was essential to start off a brand new day. French desserts in general contain less butter and sugar than the ones I am accustomed to in America. For all the desserts and pastries I’ve consumed, I was afraid to get on the weight scale. I tell myself I will work off the weight when I get back to San Francisco because French pastries/desserts are so delicious, and of course, the Cannele is very tasty too, ha ha!

Day 4

Many thanks to our French friend for taking us on an extended walking tour among the different Parisian neighborhoods, such as the park in St. Germain du pre and the local farmer’s market. Today, we visited places where local Parisians would visit, we learned about local culture and tasted local foods. We also had a great afternoon tea session at Café Jacquemart-Andre, which is inside a small museum that is not popular with tourists. We try to experience what it’s like to live like a local Parisian. It was an unforgettable experience. Traveling is not simply about eating great food and having fun, it’s also about learning the local culture.

Day 5

Today I took a class at the world famous Le Cordon Bleu.

A majority of students attending the academy are from U.S., China, and Taiwan. There were also students from Russia, Kazakhstan, and other nations. All Cordon Bleu classes have English translators, so I was told. Within another year, Cordon Bleu will relocate to a bigger building from the current location.

The 6 hour course I have taken was attended by students from Brazil, Ireland, France, and America. There were 13 students, with 5 to 6 baking assistants in addition to the instructor. The instructor is an elderly French pastry master chef. He had a grandfatherly demeanor, was very friendly, talkative, and patient at answering students’ questions via an English translator. Overall, it was an excellent learning experience.

One of the pictures posted above show pastries I worked on along with my baking group partners for the day.

There is so much to share, until next time then…………..

Quick get-away to Yountville’s Bardessono



A few days ago I visited the Bardessono resort at Yountville. Although there were slight updates to the common areas such as restaurant and bar, the up-keep of the property has remained top-notch. The following are thoughts from my prior visit:

A few years ago, we visited Bardessono during mid-February. We’ve always liked to visit Yountville, and we chose Bardessono for a quick weekend get-away. The experience was invigorating and unforgettable. From the luxuriously appointed suites to the spa and the fine amenities of the property, we felt we were on top of the world. At the start of the trip, I was feeling the blues from missing family who were overseas as I wasn’t able to celebrate Chinese New Years with them. By the end of our stay, my spirits were uplifted from the relaxing experience. Bardessono’s architecture was modern and yet rustic. The well designed floor plans offered plenty of privacy for each suite which I truly appreciated. Bardessono represents the ultimate serene resort experience and luxurious Napa living.

There is a Valentine’s card from my husband to mark the visit, how sweet of him. Such seemingly small gestures mean a lot to me.

Shopping Madness! Popular New York Handbag


A New york based designer. Vintage inspired cross-body bag with clean modern lines. 3% of all proceeds are donated to the following charities: 9/11 Memorial, Family Focus Adoption Services, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Leather is tanned with vegetable based dye. Beautiful handbags with a social cause, what a wonderful combination. I love the vibrant colors of these handbags ~ so pretty, I want to collect every color!

Our Life

Life is a journey full of surprises and revelations. Let’s discover together the finer things in life.