2018: The Depth Year


Yesterday I was talking to my cousin about New Years Resolutions. I told him mine were to dig deeper into my current commitments. Then I coincidentally came across this article. It resonated well with me, and past conversations I’ve had with some of my close friends. The whole article is great and worth a read. Here are some of the highlights:

You take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need.

No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.

..taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, you end up with a rich but carefully curated collection of personal interests, rather than the hoard of mostly-dormant infatuations that happens so easily in post-industrial society.

As long as we live in a consumer culture, it may always be easier to go wider than deeper. Going deeper requires patience, practice, and engagement during stretches where nothing much is happening.

In the consumer age, where it’s so easy to pick up and abandon new pursuits, I imagine this Depth Year thing really catching on, and maybe becoming a kind of rite of passage. People are already getting sick of being half-assed about things, I like to think.

When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface.

2018 is my depth year where I will continue to be steadfast to the things I’ve already committed to.

  • Exercise: continue to do yoga,pilates, and piyo. Commit to two times a week consistently.
  • Food: continue to eat healthy with our meal prep. Add breakfast into a morning routine and drink healthy homemade elixirs.
  • Volunteer: continue to volunteer at our local non-profit weekly, adding an extra day when possible.
  • Read the books I already own, have read or borrowed from the library.
  • Relationships: deepen the handful of friends I have, most of which live out of state. Continue to cultivate friendships with my family members, especially my cousins I grew up with. Learn something new about my husband and learn to appreciate our differences in personalities.
  • Hobbies: continue to go hiking and visiting national parks! Finish craft projects I have in the garage.
  • Home: continue to re-do our home slowly, surely, and mindfully. We renovate with items that are second hand and like to implement practices for less waste with compost, recycling, reusing, and conscious consuming.
  • Shopping: only for essentials. Getting creative with what we already own. Buying second hand, utilizing freecycle, craigslist, offerup, and facebook marketplace.
  • Letting go: of things (literally and figuratively) that are burdensome, holding back, not needed and/or can bless someone else.Over all, continue to enjoy life with contentment, joy, and peace! Prioritizing relationships and people over things, and continuing to pursue Jesus first above all.

    By continuing to commit to these things my hope is after twelve months there is less stress, no chaos or superficial stuff, and no burn outs. Instead,  a deeper satisfaction with life, a greater reward with stewardship, and better habits. And lastly, the joy that comes from the practice of commitment.



The Adventure of our 2017 Christmas Tree

The Holidays couldn’t come any faster. This time last year we were still in Thailand and we didn’t get much of a Holiday season at all. So this year the anticipation for Thanksgiving, getting a Christmas tree, and enjoying the Holidays became high.

Today we planned to get our Christmas tree from a farm in Los Gatos. Getting there didn’t happen as smooth as we hoped. When we started our car it didn’t sound well. We ordered some Starbucks and while we picked up our drinks, Andrew popped the hood of our car. He found out that we had really low oil. Almost non-existent. (Yikes!) Not to fear – we were close to an O’Reilly’s and he grabbed a couple quarts to pour inside the thirsty engine. We stood around and sipped our Holiday drinks in the Starbucks parking lot.

Then we hit the freeway. It was about a thirty minute drive and we were a mile away from the farm.

There are signs to turn right for Frosty’s Christmas Tree Farm (where we were headed) and four other tree farms too. Sadly, the road was blocked and closed with giant orange cones and construction trucks. There were no other farms this side of the mountain.

Instead of turning around google maps gave us an alternate route – 18 miles and 31 minutes away. We continued and twenty minutes on a very windy road we realized it was more construction to a dead end. Thanks, Google Maps.

So we turned around a little car sick and a tad bit disheartened. Once we got closer to the major freeway we got  full cell phone reception again and thank goodness for Yelp, found another christmas tree farm on the other side of the freeway.

We were determined. Insert: Patchen Christmas Tree Farm.

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We were greeted by a very nice gentleman (the owner) who gave us a saw, and brochure on what kind of trees they have growing, and how much they cost. Each tree is color coded, and this determines the rate for each tree. There are minimum costs for each tree – no matter how short or tall they are. $60, $70, and $80 respectively.

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It was beautiful, and enjoyed the fruit trees that were planted sporadically throughout the property.


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We searched and searched!


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My younger sister Chelsea reading the rings on a cut tree stump.

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A worthy contender.

LRG_DSC07592 Finally, a tree we all agree on! Either that or we were getting tired and hungry. (Maybe a mix of all three.) It’s cute and round, and minimal. Somehow we are attracted to minimalistic trees.

Really excited to take this home… and use the saw.

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Andrew makes the first cut.

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Chelsea contributes.

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I get in on some of the action, too!

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The tree is cut and Andrew goes down to get it netted. The owner complimented that our tree was cut clean. Good teamwork!

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We get a box of twine (inclusive with the rate) and tie it to roof.


Patchen Farms is a fun place. Not only do they have a lot of trees to choose from, there is a huge space to hang out, and shop. There are picnic tables to sit at if you pack a lunch.

You can spend almost the whole day here.

We visited on a Monday before noon, and there was a handful of other people there. A great experience as we felt like we had the place mostly to ourselves.

They accept credit cards + cash.


Photos of tree and the cutest helper. Our ornaments are a collection of sentiment, from places we visited or personal memorabilia. Except that gold snowflake, its there simply because its cute.








Happy Holidays everyone! 

Camping @ Sequoia National Park

This weekend we packed up the car to meet our friends at Sequoia National Park. They’re traveling through the United States on a road trip, and we were happy to meet them. The drive to the park is gorgeous, lots of beautiful hills and greenery.

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As we approached the park we drove through the fog. It made the forest look ethereal.


We got to our campsite and realized we were missing one backpack with all our gear (sleeping bags, tent, sleeping pads + pillows). GASP.  So here we are walking through the campground to find our friends!



Forgetting our backpack was something to laugh about. Instead we slept inside our car. Thankfully our friends had two extra sleeping bags, and I had three blankets so we worked with it, and survived!

Monday morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. Andrew started a fire and we cooked breakfast.




Always have to have bacon. Also: mason jars are great for just about everything.


The day included walking to see General Grant, one of the biggest and oldest sequoias.



General Grant is 267 feet tall and 1,650 years old!



We took a walk through a fallen sequoia, which is apparently the only way they die. They are indestructible otherwise, surviving rot, insects, and fire.




Afterwards we took a drive to see a waterfall. The drive up there was gorgeous as well. It was beautiful, and the rivers running alongside the mountains were a sight to see. So much water!




Unplugged for a couple days, hanging out alongside a campfire (cause it was so cold), and being with friends make for a great trip. Aren’t our friends the cutest?

My favorite part of the trip was watching the kids and Uncle Andrew have an intense snowball fight.

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The last two times the Warriors won the Finals we were camping the night of their championship game. Coincidence or a sign of good luck? 😉

Good tips:
– Get gas one more time before getting into the park. That way you have enough gas to visit other parts as it’s really big.
– If you’re headed back to the South Bay visit Cutija Taco Shop in Los Banos. One word: CARNE-ASADA-FRIES!

A Quick trip to Cambodia


 We had a three days in Cambodia over Thanksgiving weekend. We like to travel smarter, not harder, and maximize our time wherever we are. This  means avoiding crowds, when possible, and being prepared so we can swiftly get through the airport and into the city! Here are some tips that helped us on our visit.

  1. E-Visa 
    Since our trip to Cambodia wasn’t decided until we got into Thailand, we didn’t get a visa from the U.S., instead we applied for a visa online. This included taking a photo with our camera and uploading it with our application. It takes up to 3 days to approve.
    Total cost $40
    If you don’t get a Visa online, you can apply for it as soon as you land. So you wait in line for your Visa, then another line for customs. When we arrived at the airport, we only had to wait through one line since we had our E-Visa’s.
  2. Ankor Wat Sunrise
    The building to purchase an admission pass to Angkor Wat is 10 minutes away from the temple itself. To go straight from your hotel to the temple in the morning, its best to purchase your admission ticket the afternoon before your sunrise. We were picked up at 4:40am, and arrived to get Angkor to witness the sunrise. 
    $20/ 1 day pass
    $40/ 3 day pass
    $60 / week
    Rates might increase significantly by February 2017
  3. Bring Cash USD
    The currency for most tourist places, like Siem Reap, is the US dollar. Have smaller bills to carry for tips. We use our Charles Schwab debit card when abroad because we get reimbursed for the ATM transaction fees.
  4. Transportation.
    The driver we got from the airport was very nice, and offered to be our driver for the rest of our trip. We agreed, and he had good tips on certain sights. He had an SUV with A/C. If you don’t mind not having A/C, and want a more Khmer experience, tuk tuk drivers are also available for hire.Always, always ask how much a tour or ride is going to cost before agreeing to get into a vehicle or go on a tour guide, unless its a metered car.
    For more clarification, ask how long a trip take. Efficiency is not common in developing countries, and communication with a language barrier can be a problem.Speak simply, listen well, and enjoy your time!

Loi Kathrong // Yi Peng

 We had the pleasure of being in Thailand during Loi Kathrong & Yi Peng so that means floating lanterns!!


This was our second experience with sky lanterns. The first time was two NYE’s ago. We walked around the street markets and purchased one from a vendor. (30 baht / a little less than a dollar). Then we walked inside a temple gate, set a flame to it, and asked a nice looking, trust worthy stranger to take our photo. People are doing the same thing all over, and lanterns are released sporadically.


This time we got referred to a tour company via our AirBnB. We paid for tickets to this event, and traveled from the city to a village by bus. This was different than the last time because this time there were 500 of us gathered together, and the idea was to release the lanterns at the same time.


We were told to wait until the speaker told us to let go, because there’s a certain “wow” factor when the lanterns go up simultaneously.


It’s happening, semi-simultaneously. 😉


 I released my lantern, and looked up to see the most beautiful sight.


Hundreds of illuminated lanterns against the dark sky.

The closer ones pulsating a yellow flame, and others gently gliding in the background.

All moving together in perfect rhythym.


They looked like jelly fish swimming in the sky.


Then I had this moment of ” I can’t believe I am witnessing this with my own two eyes!


A gentle reminder that little moments like these are worth the exploration, and enough beauty to make your jaw drop and put butterflies in your stomach.



Tickets $50/each
round trip bus ride (30 minutes each way)
1 sky lantern + 1 lathrong (not pictured because we didn’t participate)
1 souvenir (small lantern ornament and coin purse)

Dinner from local vendors $3
 fried banana
a bag of chicharron (so random, I know!)
1 bottle of water


I highly recommend experiencing this!
The date is different every year, because its based on the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, on a Western calendar it falls somewhere in November.


Photography: Andrew Brown
Shout out: to Mary, my generous co-worker & dear friend for gifting us this experience.
for more information on our AirBnB & the tour company
email: kalaniandandrew@gmail.com

Big Sur

Big Sur is intriguing. Marked with history and landscapes where the mountains and the ocean meet, it’s beautiful all right.

We left a little before 8am with hardly any traffic. On the way we stopped in Carmel at  La Sala’s Bi-Rite Market for sandwiches. (Thanks, Yelp!)  Grab your bread first, take it to the counter, and choose your meat, and fixings. The employees were really friendly & nice. You can grab snacks, and drinks, too.

Back on the road like a kid in a candy store, we stopped at several locations of the freeway. The view was incredible and the fog was rolling off the mountains.

Big Sur, no wonder everyone loves you.


Our destination was Julia Burns Pfieffer Park. We parked outside of the entrance and to our surprise, we were right outside of McWay Falls.


We went through the entrance of the park and walked down to the falls. It’s breathtaking. With no public access to the beach its no wonder why it looks pristine.

Felt a little hungry so we ate our sandwiches with this view. (Sandwiches were great, would definitely recommend visiting La Sala’s!)


In the 1900’s there was a house built here and this was view outside of the bedroom window. Talk about a million dollar view! Even cooler, she was a Mrs. Brown. 🙂

IMG_2356My best friend and I – she’s a silly one.

Further down there is another look out with a couple of benches to enjoy the view.


Onward to the hike!
This trail has it all: clear water running through, and beautiful trees everywhere. We passed a couple spots with picnic tables and grills.



The trail is paved with plenty of shade. It goes uphill with 1600 elevation gain so plenty of water and good socks + shoes are a must!


In 2008 there was a wildfire leaving some of the trees with burnt markings, and hollow inside.

Trees unveiling history. The texture is so beautiful.


We had such a great time, and will definitely come back.