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My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017

In keeping with prior years’ tradition, the last post of the year is dedicated to my favorite books of 2017!Barking Up The Wrong Tree
I had a surprisingly amount of fun reading this book and caught myself chuckling on multiple occasions. In addition to making me laugh, this book also made me pause and think “wow that is really interesting” multiple times and is undoubtedly my favorite book in 2017. Barking up the Wrong Tree explores very interesting concepts that can run counter-intuitive to what we’ve been are taught. The best parts of the book are the anecdote examples to demonstrate various concepts. The book is very easy to read, thought provoking and definitely a book that I plan on rereading in a few years.

Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone was the last book I read this year and definitely a top favorite. The story begins with Thomas Stone (a surgeon) and Sister Mary Joseph Praise working in an Ethiopian hospital. The story then moves on and is centered around two twin boys, Marion and Shiva Stone, during the Ethiopian / Eritrean war. This book explores the bond between the twins and themes of family, love, betrayal, and a lot of medicine.

I love the story, the characters, and the plots. I also love how wrong I was about Shiva being shellfish; a good reminder that one shouldn’t judge others only based on what they say or do. Abraham Verghese is a brilliant writer, his descriptions are so vivid and the emotions portrayed in the books are so relatable.

The Art of War – Sun Tzu
The Art of War or “孫子兵法” is a classic Chinese literature. A lot of well-known Chinese phrases are directly from Sun Tzu’s book. Instead of challenging myself to read it in Chinese, I decided to read the book in English first. Although this book is about warfare, a lot of the tactics are actually applicable in modern life and in business.

For example, “do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat”. That to me is the equivalent of “preparation is the key to success”. Another example, “now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards. That to me is the necessary alignment of interest to achieve the maximum outcome between management and board of directors or companies and employees.

The English version also makes me appreciate the difficulties in translating between two languages. “If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” is “” in Chinese. The translation is correct: know yourself, know others, and you won’t lose a hundred battles. The concept is the same, yet reading it in Chinese vs. English is still different.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a New York Times Bestseller by Jonathan Foer and a book that I haven’t gotten around to read until this year. The story follows a 9-year-old boy, Oskar, looking for a lock that matches a particular key. Oskar’s father who passed away during 9/11 left the mysterious key. My favorite parts of the book were Oskar’s inventions (or imaginations) and his grandparent’s story. Examples of Oskar’s inventions include a teakettle that whistles melodies, a building that moves up and down while the elevator stays stationary, a limo long enough to serve as a “teleporting portal”, a birdseed shirt allowing birds to pick up wearers and give them a ride, and much more. Then the story between his grandparents is worth another book itself.

I used to cry pretty easily reading sad books or watching sad movies but I find that the older I become, the harder it is to move me. Yet, this book brought me to tears, such a good and unforgettable book.

First They Killed My Father – A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
This is a non-fiction book written by Loung Ung and based on her childhood so the tragedies are even more raw and painful. Loung lived with her parents and 6 siblings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia until the start of the Cambodian genocide in 1975. The genocide lasted until 1979 and an estimated ~2 million Cambodians died. The story follows Loung and her family from Phnom Penh to the countryside’s various villages. As the reader you are holding your breath at each stop hoping that it would be the last and the war would end or the conditions would improve. The book is heart breaking but also very inspiring: the love for one’s family, the courage to go through each day, and the strength of the survivors to recover and relive.

Angelina Jolie directed the movie but I haven’t watched the film because I can’t imagine the movie being anywhere near as good as the book or is anywhere near as heart throbbing as Loung Ung’s words.


Thank you for reading and a big thank you to my incredible brother who always has the best book suggestions, I love you!

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2017 Black Friday Deals Checklist

Black Friday is almost upon us! To be disciplined and efficient, I’ve decided to write down a list of items on my wishlist and only check the sales on these items. I’ve generally found that sales are better after Christmas so although I love Black Friday, I never go crazy. Here are the goodies on my Black Friday deals checklist:

  1. Cloud White and Blue Plaid Coat – I have been eyeing this coat for a few months and will be ordering it during Black Friday. I love the color combination of the dark / light blue, white, black, and grey with the large plaid design. The coat is made of 85% polyester and 15% wool and won’t be warm so I plan on wearing a light Uniqlo puffer jacket underneath.
  2. Maida Double-Breasted Peacoat Juniper – I am obsessed with this coat after seeing it on InTheFrow. I normally never buy any apparel from my favorite bloggers even if I like them because I don’t want to be a “copy-cat” but I honestly can’t resist this coat! I love the moss green color, the cut, the fit, and the length of the coat will be perfect for my height. This coat has been out of stock for so long, I’m so glad it’s back! It’s currently retailing for $555 so I really hope Reiss has a Black Friday sale!
  3. Babaton Spencer Coat – This burgundy color coat is perfect for fall! On top of the color, I love the collar design and the belt. Aritzia coats also fit well on my body frame. The coat is made of 74% wool, 20% polyamide, and 6% cashmere. It looks thin so I will likely also wear a light Uniqlo puffer jacket underneath for extra warmth.
  4. Tipped Topcoat in Italian Stadium-Cloth Wool – The last coat on my list is this wool coat from JCrew. The navy blue and the trench design make the coat very classic. Yet the white lining around the lapel makes the coat look more modern and sleek!

Note: make sure to use Ebates for Black Friday, actual %s might change but Ebates currently offers 1% on Lulus, 3% on Reiss, and 10% on JCrew!

  1. Strathberry East West Shoulder Bag – Strathberry’s East West shoulder bag is my newest obsession so I am keeping an eye on it during Black Friday. I love the metal bar closure and the simple yet beautiful design of the bag is right up my alley. Too bad this bag doesn’t come in a blush / light pink, I think it would be super pretty with the design. For now, I’m undecided between dark green, taupe, and pearl grey.
  2. Meadow Double Zip Camera Bag – This bag reminds me of the Gucci Soho Disco (excluding the hefty price), which was on my wish list for so long. The bag comes in numerous colors and two sizes ($180 for regular and $145 for mini). You can also personalize it for an additional $10. The shape of a camera bag is timeliness and I think it would be a very practical and carefree bag for weekend errands and travel.
  3. Fashionphile – There are a few handbags that I’m eyeing on Fashionphile. I believe Fashionphile had a 10% discount on all bags last year but I’m not 100% certain. On top of my list is the white & yellow Celine Edge for $635! Also on my list are Diorama, Chloe Faye, Celine Classic Box in caramel, and Lady Dior.

Note: make sure to use Ebates for Black Friday, actual %s might change but Ebates currently offers 8% on Saks Fifth Avenue! Also if you have the Chase Freedom credit card, you can get 5% cash back on department stores this quarter!

  1. Chloe Lauren Suede Scallop Pumps – I’ve wanted a pair of these Chloe Lauren Scallop Pumps for months now but I’m holding out until I can find a light color pair on sale! These pumps look so comfy and versatile: they are professional enough to be worn in the office and casual enough to be worn on the weekends.
  2. Cole Haan Justine Pumps – If I can’t find the Chloe Lauren Scallop Pumps on sale then I plan on purchasing a block heel pump from Cole Haan. I love Cole Haan shoes, they are always well made and comfortable. Cole Haan has discounts often but most of the time the sales are final and non-refundable which is tricky if you aren’t certain on the fit. Hopefully I can save a couple pretty pennies on Black Friday and still make sure return is an option in case I order the wrong size.
  3. Stuart Weitzman Midland Boots – My love for Stuart Weitzman continues. Like a lot of ladies out there, I love my Stuart Weitzman Highland boots but I want a shorter heel version. The SW Lowlands are an option but I will take all the height I can get so the SW Midland is the perfect alternative. My ideal color for an SW Midland boot is walnut or black.

Note: make sure to use Ebates for Black Friday, actual %s might change but Ebates currently offers 3% on and 2.5% on Cole Haan!

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Tiffany’s Best Kept Secret: $10 Silver Polish Cream (Review)

Tiffany is known for its dazzling diamonds and beautiful silvers; yet, I would argue Tiffany’s best product is its silver polish cream – aka the magic that brings your tarnished silver back to life.

A Little Background and Other Methods I’ve Tried
I had two pieces of silver jewelry from Tiffany, a trefoil key necklace and a heart tag bracelet. I went swimming with the two pieces a few times during a cruise and the next thing I knew, the silver looked like it was over 100 years old. I tried online methods of cleaning it with baking soda + aluminum foil, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. They all help a little bit but the silver was still so dull that I didn’t want to wear it. (Note: during my cleaning process, the blue enamel on the bracelet fell off.)

Fast forward a year, I decided to send in the bracelet to Tiffany to get it polished and have the blue enamel reattached – I received a quote that it would cost $80. I said no thank you and received my bracelet back. For a while I hated Tiffany and swore to myself I would never purchase anything from there again. Eventually I decided to try again and google for silver cleaning products – that’s when I found Tiffany’s silver polish cream.

Tiffany’s Silver Polishing Products
The website doesn’t have too much information on these products at all – which is a shame because if more people knew tarnished silver can easily be polished then they would buy more products. Maybe Tiffany’s strategy is to get you to visit its stores for polishing and then impulse buy more products?

Regardless, Tiffany offers polishing cloths, mitts, polish cream, liquid cleaner and the silver polish spray. I purchased the silver polish cream, which cost $10 for 4 ounces (125 mL). The rest of the post will be focused on this product. The polishing clothes would have been nice but I polished my silver with a regular hand towel and even paper towels and they work fine.

Tiffany Silver Polish Cream – Text on the Bottle
“This cream is ideal for use on lightly tarnished Tiffany & Co. products made of sterling silver or sterling silver and mixed metal to obtain a brilliant shine with long lasting protection”


  • Shake bottle well before use
  • Apply cream to Tiffany & Co. products made of sterling silver or sterling silver and mixed metal with a soft, clean cloth and polish thoroughly
  • Rinse and dry with a soft, clean cloth
  • Close bottle tightly after use and store in a cool place


  • This cream is formulated for cleaning Tiffany & Co. products made of sterling silver or sterling silver and mixed metal
  • It should not be used on any delicate stones such as emeralds, opals, corals, pearls, turquoise or on costume jewelry
  • May cause an allergic reaction for people sensitive to Octadecylmercaptan
  • Avoid contact with eyes. If contact occurs, rinse thoroughly with water.
  • If accidently consumed, drink water and seek medical advice if nauseous
  • Nontoxic
  • Keep out of reach of children

Before and After
A picture speaks a thousand words, I have found other tarnished silver and took before and after pictures below:

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide (2017)

Valentine’s day is around two weeks away and I want to share some of my gift ideas under $50 for him and for her. I also included some gift ideas you can get for yourself – you don’t need to have a significant other to celebrate this day! You can love yourself and treat yourself to something nice!

For Her

  • Fashion: A History from 18th to the 20th Century – A book is a great gift on Valentine’s Day. You can either get her one of your favorite books or pick up something that you know she’ll like!
  • YSL Rouge Volupte Lipstick ($37) – No girl will ever be upset to receive a lipstick. One of my favorite lipsticks is the YSL Rouge Volupte. It is in a beautiful canister and has an intoxicating fresh mangos smell and the formula is really comfy. More simply put, most girls will like this lipstick!
  • Nest Grapefruit Candle ($16 – $40) – Ahhh to come home and burn a candle to relax and make your apartment smell good is one of the greatest self-indulgences! The gift may seem odd but once that candle is burning, you will both be happy you picked this gift!
  • Monkey Rubber Hot or Cold Water Bottle ($20) – This is the perfect gift if your girlfriend is always cold. The water bottle stays warm for ~5 hours and so soft and cuddly! Plus it is great during that time of the month when she is having cramps =)
  • Home Cooked Meal (Blue Apron) – Nothing is more romantic than a guy cooking a delicious and healthy dinner for his girl! If you are not confident with your cooking skills, you can order boxes from Blue Apron, Hello Fresh or any other food subscription boxes and follow the step-by-step instructions. (P.S. look for coupon codes online, you can generally get the first box for free!)
  • Too Cool for School Mousse Pack & Mask ($20 & $6) – If your girl loves skincare then she will enjoy this mask! I always have fun using this mask and it leaves you skin smooth and radiant!

For Him

  • Bigger Leaner Stronger – Again a great gift choice is a book. We are obsessed with electronics these days so when we do receive a book it’s a good and welcoming surprise!
  • Happy Socks ($12) – One thing I’ve learned while working in a male dominated industry is that guys love their colorful socks. Seriously they do – fun socks are to guys what bags and shoes are to girls! I find it endearing and am fully supportive of getting colorful fun socks for guys for Valentine’s day!
  • Art of Shaving Starter Kit ($30) – Girls have so many brushes so it’s only right that the guy has one too. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Art of Shaving and it is a gift that you know he will use!
  • Nike Dri-Fit ($40) – If your guy likes to work out and he hasn’t try the Dri-Fit t-shirts then you should make the introduction! It doesn’t absorb as much moisture, cling to your body and restrict your movement.
  • Homemade Cupcakes / Cookies – This is for girls who work full time and are always on the go and generally don’t have time to cook for the guys. Valentine’s day is a great time to surprise him by taking the time to make something delicious for him!
  • Gamestop Gift Card – In general I am not a fan giving gift cards because you can always be more thoughtful and get someone a gift. However, I do think a Gamestop gift card is a good idea – it allows him to pick out the game he wants to play plus you get a few more bargaining chip next time you want him to stop playing on the PS4!

For Self (These gifts are $50 – $100)

  • The Power of Habit – I’m starting off with a book again. You should read an autobiography of someone you admire or a new thriller or indulge in a romance novel. Read whatever that makes you happy!
  • Sodastream ($80) – If you love sparkling water then you need a Sodastream in your life (or any carbonation machine). Sodastream was hands down one of my best purchase in 2016! No more running out of sparkling water and no more wasting plastic bottles!
  • Tatcha Discovery Kit ($59) – So far I’ve tried the rice enzyme powder cleanser from Tatcha and I’m in love with the product. Tatcha is inspired by the beauty rituals of geishas so this discovery kit is on my must try list! If you are looking to buy yourself skincare related products, you can consider Tatcha.
  • Triangl Milly Swimwear ($89) – If you are looking forward to summer or you are going anywhere tropic during spring then you should treat yourself to a bright Triangl swimwear. The swimsuits are very flattering and they come in a variety of fun, bright colors.
  • Charlotte Tilbury Lipstck Duo ($60) – Lipsticks, lipsticks and more lipsticks! A girl can never have too many lipsticks, literally. My recent obsession is the Charlotte Tilbury matte revolution lipsticks. If you have never tried then I would highly recommend you treating yourself to one!
  • Le Specs The Prince Sunglasses ($89) – Another pick to get you ready for the warmer weather. If you love aviator sunglasses then these flat-mirrored aviators from Le Specs will make you very happy this spring / summer!


Thanks for letting me share! Wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day in advance!


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3 (Un)Conventional Tips for the Gym

Happy New Year! I’m sure many of us had “go to the gym” or “lose weight” or “be more active” on our New Year’s resolution list. We all know working out is good for us, but actually going to the gym (routinely) is undeniably difficult. No good things come easily I guess.

I am neither athletic nor do I enjoy working out. For seven years after high school, I barely ever ran a mile. However, after moving to Boston and having more time outside of work, I decided to make working out a focus. After 18 months and going to the gym 1-3 times a week, I want to share three tips on how I motivate prevented myself from giving up.

1.  Never Push Yourself
Never ever push yourself at the gym. I know this goes against all conventional wisdom and what we have been taught but seriously never push yourself. The goal is to go to the gym frequently and do something, the goal is not to push yourself one day, hate the gym and then never go back for a few months.

If you want to run 1.0 mile, great, if you want to run 0.50 miles that okay too! It is okay to not achieve the fitness goal you had in mind – in fact don’t even set fitness goals. Without a goal, you won’t be pressured by how much you “should” workout but rather be guided by how you feel that day.

Once you let go of expectations, you will realize that some days you do have the extra energy and 1 mile is no longer satisfactory and you will naturally want to run the next 0.5 extra miles. Without expectations you won’t be dreading about going to the gym and you won’t be daunted by your random goal of how much you have to exercise. More often than not, once you are at the gym, you will do a fair amount of workout just because you are already there. Again some exercise is better than no exercise J

2.  Forget About Losing Weight
Please don’t expect to lose weight because initially it will likely not happen and you will give up if you expect to lose weight and then don’t see the results. In the beginning, when you trade in fat for muscle you might even gain weight but don’t let the number on the scale fool you! You are making process and becoming more fit so keep going to the gym!

When I first started to work out, I also wanted to shed a few pounds. In the beginning even though I didn’t see any results on the scale, I could tell my arms and legs were becoming leaner. Then later I stopped focusing on losing weight and instead just focused on going to the gym and working out when I can for however long I want. Very slowly, I did start to lose weight. Overall, I think losing weight should be a side benefit of working out and not the main focus.

3.  Indulge in Podcasts / Videos
When you are at the gym do something that you enjoy! It can be listening to a podcast, jamming to some tunes, listening to audio books or watching YouTube videos. For me if I don’t keep my mind busy, I will watch the distance calculator on the treadmill like a hawk and think about how unpleasant my legs and lungs every second. This only makes the workout feel so much longer. My favorite thing is to listen to podcasts (Planet Money, 99% Invisible) or watch / listen to handbag or beauty videos on YouTube. Working out isn’t so bad when you are happily doing something else that you really enjoy!


Thanks for reading, hopefully these tips are somewhat helpful. I hope we will all stay happy and healthy in the New Year!