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December 31, 2009

Winding Down 2009

Yes, it's a 2009 wrap-up post! At times I feel like I'm going nowhere fast, at other times I couldn't be more content. Lately it's been the latter, and I am grateful. 2009 has been more of an emotional struggle for me than any other sort of struggle. I've fallen into some dark corners and flown to incredible heights, sometimes all within a few days. If I had to sum up the year in one word, it would be "patient".

Taking a look at my resolution post from the beginning of the year, I actually feel successful. I also feel sort of silly for having some of those as my priority, but what's done is done!

1. Learn to appreciate what I have. √ certainly an ongoing effort

2. Blog more. √ I wrote 17 posts in the month of March! I also started another blog.
3. Be nicer.  I can't say I've improved much on this one. BUT, I have invested in custom thank you cards, and I've been more giving and responsive.
4. Move into my own place. √ I did it! And 8  months later Jason and I moved in together. Hey, at least I did it, and had a chance to do it. I loved that little apartment to pieces.

5. Get comfortable talking to strangers. √  I've come a long way on this one; I'm not nearly as clever as I would hope to be but I'm not as shy either. Yay!

Let's be more specific in 2010, shall we?
1. Get some lift and momentum with PG
Nail down a schedule and recruit talent. I'd like to develop columns and get some passionate people on board. Who would be dedicated to the cause? Set an example, take it seriously, publish great content. What is our goal?

2. Lay a foundation for freelance

More and more I'm getting job requests for graphics, website consulting and brand identity work. I don't plan to market myself aggressively but I would like to be prepared to receive business so that I may enjoy the experience and open myself to learning.

5. Stay comfortable

Read: Stay employed. I had that as a joke resolution last year but after seeing 2009 run its course I mean it. I have hope, and see the opportunities, but nobody likes bitten asses. Only unbitten ones. 

4. Travel abroad for three weeks, goddamnit

5. Learn webdesign
I design for web, but I can't say I know how to design a website from scratch. Absolutely hands down a gaping hole as a designer that needs to be filled. Who wants to teach me?!!! :)

6. Take more photos

Starting with a new lens...

Anywho. All the best to you, who reads this blog. Thanks for being the receiving end of my sporatic tirades and pretty photo posts. I do appreciate you for giving me a reason to care. Happy new year!


December 30, 2009


Am terribly in love with the brick wall red green combo. Someday, oh someday, I will have my own space for my own business for my own work. I will flow between this lovely space to my lovely home, and back again to this lovely space in the morning.

Every morning will start with drinking a cup of joe while gazing out the window. After a minute or two I will dive into an hour of email diligence, corresponding and sending quotes. The destiny of my day lies in lists, lists, and more lists. I'll take my lunch outside. I'll offer design services like branding, website consulting, illustration and installation commissions, copyrighting, photography and prop styling... I'll host events like book readings, exhibitions, crAfternoons, and dinner parties... my kitchen will always be full of take-home desserts for my interns and clients.

My business will thrive on collaboration and sensibility, quiet with honesty and strength. We'll know that word of mouth is the most intimate form of advertising. We'll believe in our work and our clients and our talent. I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait...

Toeside, I Love You

Two full seasons, a cup full of tears, and one too many hissy fits later, I finally learned how to snowboard properly!! Jason had me follow his line and before I knew it we were dancing. Damn he's good. So, here are some celebratory winter images for you.

Click for sources

December 29, 2009

Hors D'oeuvres

I scoured the internet to create an hors d'ouvres menu for our housewarming party, so I thought I'd share with you the successes. These three happen to be the easiest, so if you're having a New Years Eve party at home, consider these!

Caramelized Onion Dip 

I'd never made this from scratch before and I was surprised that this recipe calls for two large onions but actually,  the finely chopped onions are caramelized over 45 minutes over the stove and reduced down. The intense flavor also calmed, turning almost sweet, even though the recipe doesn't call for sugar! It makes about 2 cups and the entire bowl was wiped clean at the end of the night. Success.

Prosciutto Crostini with Lemony Fennel Slaw ( I used Smoked Salmon )

Despite burning one whole tray of sliced baguette, the two trays that did survive were gone before we knew it. I already had another dish that called for prosciutto, but I really liked how refreshing this sounded, so I substituted for smoked salmon. Yum. My.

Fennel root was a first for me. I love the smell of it but it actually was stronger than the taste of it. I like that the slaw isn't made with vinegar, but with lemon. The crunch of the bread with the cool of the salmon was divine. I really wish I didn't burn that one pan.

Pigskins in a Blanket

I suppose I should take offense that this hit dish didn't actually take any real preparation whatsoever, but I'm not. All I did was roll the little piggies prior and stuck it in the fridge. I saved this dish to cook and serve in the middle of the party to replenish the food. Plus, nothing beats a salty-hot snack when you're tipsy.

I think I may have served these a little too quickly and burned a few tongues, but I definitely should have bought twice as much Pillsbury dough and Mini sausages.

December 28, 2009

Update: Our Costumes

I present to you: the only photo I have of our Halloween costumes.

Catch-Up Post

(Sneak peak of one of my craft projects)

It's been a busy December, hasn't it! Hope you all had a tasty holiday. Winding down this month also means winding down the year, and I want to start fresh for 2010 (which by the way still sounds to me like The Future, and even when it IS 2010 in the present, I will feel like I have time-traveled). Allow me to update you on the haps.

What I Have Been Up To.. In Reverse
Yesterday, Jason took me to buy some running shoes. I hadn't been to the gym properly at all this year, and I'm beyond the point where I'm even ashamed to admit it. It's a sad fact but a fact nonetheless, and already in this post I present to you my new years resolution: I, Milan Phan, resolve to figure out what "working out really means". By doing, not just in theory. I don't even know how it FEELS to be physically fit. Anyway, let that be a whole other blog post. *scheduling now* It was a quick purchase thanks to the lovely lady at Transports on College Ave, and paired with my new airy red running shorts, I'm really excited to drop all my excuses and start running.

I went home for the holidays and spent three days at my parents. By "spent" I mean I lay underneath the kotatsu all day and watched movies on cable TV. For three days. I literally did not step outside except to take the trash out. For the few of you who knows what it feels to be a "planner" who doesn't have that much free time, imagine coming to a screeching halt and finding yourself in this equation:

A) You are back in the home you grew up in, and your parents are, well, let's just say they aren't available.
B) Your laptop charger has died and nobody you know who has a MacBookPro is in town. (Read: No internet).
C) In fact, nobody you know is in town.
D) Eventually your iPhone charger also goes kaput, thankfully temporarily, but still, kaput. (Read: No internet OR mobile applications).
E) You have access to cable, which you don't have at home, and the warmest place in the house is underneath that cursed kotatsu.

I could have chosen to reconnect with Mother Nature and my childhood by taking a pen and paper to the park for a few hours, but I chose the mind-numbing, time-eating cable TV as my vacation. I can't believe how unprepared I was to relax, but at this point I just have to let it go.

Breaking the routine, Jason and his brother took my mother and I to Tahoe on Saturday. Tahoe is normal for us, but my mom hadn't been for years. She was a happy trooper and woke up before dawn, packed and dressed in layers and wore rubber boots. While we rode, she stood on a rock watching for us to come down the mountain, and when I took a break to find her, she was beaming brighter than the white snow. She even took some snow home in a Pringles container insulated by a plastic bag. I think she had a good time, and she was pretty cute... up until she threw a chunk of ice at my elbow. Apparently the snow was too dry to make snowballs, hmph!

We had a housewarming party, finally. It took weeks of preparation, mostly because I made it that way, but it was very much worth it in the end. We keep talking about how lucky we are to have such good company, both individually and collectively, and seeing everyone together really solidified our appreciation.

Big picture haps: Things have slowed down with my main side project, but I intend to fully ramp up beginning of 2010. I was contacted for several freelance projects all within three days of each other, and I'm excited about the opportunities. Sidenote: December is a big lull for many businesses, I realize. I hope that I can remember to prepare for the holidays weeks prior so that my future business stays consistent and strong.

What Is To Come
New Years is coming up and I really hope to have an easy transition. This year has been about making a home, deciding my career, and having good relationships. I plan to do one of them end-o'-year blog posts this week that'll include a new blog schedule, goals and photos from the year -- stay tuned! =)

Enjoy the last week of the Present, and prepare for The Future!

December 9, 2009

Jon Klassen

I could be very late in this game, but only I've fallen in love with one particular illustration before, never an entire series. I'd love to have a print of Jon Klassen's illustration work, especially these three above, two of which are only thumbnails: they're so wide. While you're shopping for my Christmas presents, be sure to take a peek at his preliminary sketches for stop-motion animation Coraline, and be prepared to get lost.

December 3, 2009

See Rightly, Little Prince

 (via tout est des roses , originally uploaded by mmelox)

I've been having a hard time lately. This happens frequently, actually. It comes in phases, this feeling of happiness, followed by content, followed by complete numbness. Stirred awake by the realization of the numbness, I become fearful. And then angry. Infuriated even! And then hurt. And then finally ... peaceful. In which I can find happiness again.

It's important to see – not literally look with your eyes, but to pay attention to – the world around you. So much more is important than what happens within you, and conversely, what happens within you dictates so much about how you see the world around you.

I saw the above photo on a blog about natural parenting and it brought me to the surface of what I've been feeling. This sort of peace is exactly what I want. No fear, just clarity. No walls, just heart. That people, including myself, can go weeks without being thoughtful or careful is shockingly real. But there's always an opportunity to come back around and cycle through, again and again.