Getting Back On The Horse


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set) 

As the saying goes, I’m preparing to “get back on the horse” with my Panda Millionaire journey.  It has been quite a hiatus, and a lot of things happen in life and get in the way, and I certainly stumble and fall as all humans do…but I’m still here and I’m still going!  (And if you’re reading this, looks like you are too :) )

During my time away, I’ve had the time to reflect upon what happened in 2013, as well as how quickly 2014 is passing by.

I have been busy!  If you are a parent, especially of young children, you may feel the way I do, which is that you can never do enough for your kids. You’re always wanting to provide for them, whether it’s by working so that you can support them (and the rising daycare costs) or spending time playing with them or cooking or cleaning up after them…there are endless labors of love that we do for our kids!  Not that it’s an excuse, but parenting has been a priority for me, it takes up most of my time, and it continues to do so.  (I am happy to report that the effort is paying off, as my son Griffith is happy and healthy, and I am so proud of the little man he’s quickly growing up to be!)

The other thing about parenting is that it’s actually important to make time for yourself to be balanced as well.  In my quest to be “Super Mom” I have neglected things that are important to my sense of balance, namely creating artwork and exercising.  Over the past few months I have slowly striving to regain those things in an effort to balance myself, which in turn will help me be a better parent.  (P.S. There is no such thing as a “super mom,” it’s something that the media made up yet we keep trying to do it all.  Every day just try to do your best, that’s all anyone can ask for…even if you’re not a mom :) )

So! Back to what is going on with . This whole project and journey will keep evolving, just like real life and the dynamic nature of the internet.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be sharing:

  • What lessons were learned working on in 2013
  • What plans are in store for in 2014
  • More Panda Art
  • Resources to help you start your own Millionaire journey

Today is the first day that I have made the firm decision to get back on the horse for !  It’s never too late to make another start on your goals and dreams, so I hope you get back on the horse for whatever it is you are wanting to go for.

Stay tuned and I will be back soon ^_^

(If you enjoy today’s art, you can help support the journey by purchasing it as a print at ! I donate 10% of my profits back to my panda inspiration via the World Wildlife Fund and am a Partner in Conservation.)

Happy Lunar New Year 2014 – The Year of the Horse

panda_02042014Happy Lunar New Year ^_^

The beauty of the Lunar New Year (aka Tet in my Vietnamese heritage, and more commonly known as Chinese New Year) is that it’s an extended celebration, and it’s never too early or too late to celebrate it! This is great for a person like me, who prefers “stretchable” deadlines :)

One of my favorite things about Lunar New Year is getting to eat lots of traditional Vietnamese food, specifically one called bang chung. It’s kind of like a sticky rice cake with mung beans and fatty pork inside. It takes a few days to prepare it, as you have to layer the sticky rice with the pork and beans, wrap it up tightly in phyrnium leaves, and finally tie it up with string.  Then you have to boil the whole package for at least 6 hours (overnight is best) so that it all comes together in a delicious gooey cake.

After it cools, you can eat it as is. Or, you can eat it as I like to, which is to cut it into thin slices and pan fry it for a few minutes so it gets a little crispy.

Another thing about the Lunar New Year is to indulge in a little fun with Eastern Astrology. There are several sources for information about what is predicted to happen in the Year of the Horse, and generally people are saying that you should be conservative with your finances and business dealings. (Good advice for an aspiring Panda Millionaire who is a notorious risk-taker.)

Whether you celebrate the Lunar New Year or not, it’s just good to take some time out, reflect on how things are going so far this year, and be grateful for the things that bring you joy. As for the things that aren’t bringing you joy, be grateful for the lessons that are being taught to you.

As for me, I have been spending my time lately doing all of the above and using the Lunar New Year as an impetus to get cracking on my “second awakening.” (More to come on that very soon!)

I hope everyone is enjoying the Year of the Horse so far, and that you use this time as a chance to celebrate all that is positive and reflect upon life :)


Welcome 2014


Happy New Year 2014!

I’m continuing this daily art project here on PandaMillionaire, but in 2014 I’ve decided to not limit myself to watercolor paintings anymore. I’ll still draw every day but I’ll be using whatever medium inspires me for the day. Sometimes it might be natural media, sometimes it might be digital.

Today, I was just reflecting on my two characters that have been pseudo-autobiographical for me in the past, which are Hana Neko (star of my Tea Club comic) and Ninja Panda (co-star of Unemployed Pandas). I put together a quick sketch of them in Painter, and then brought it into Adobe Illustrator to turn it into vector art.

I enjoyed a day of doing almost everything I loved…quality time with my son Griffith, quality time with my most beloved friends and family, drawing, and writing. I probably would have liked to have worked out and spent time with my dog Phoebe, but tomorrow is a new day :)

More to come as I work on catching up with this art/blog/project. Until then Happy New Year ^_^

The End of 2013


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set)

The end of 2013 certainly came on very quickly!

As I reflect upon the year, it was really one heck of a ride. The common theme that stuck out in my mind is that I had to learn how to surf through the turbulence of life. Sometimes surfing was fun, but quite often it was very difficult. Waves would really knock me over when I least expected it, and there were a lot of times where I wondered when the storm was end. As tired as I was, I knew I couldn’t give up, because I have a precious son who needs me to be strong.

Finally, towards the end of the year, I seemed to sort of get the hang of it. It’s not that the waves were any less treacherous, but I began to understand the hows and whys of life sufferings and challenges. Most importantly, I really came to know myself, my strengths and weaknesses better, which ultimately sets me up for getting psyched about 2014.

I’ll definitely write something up about all my lessons learned at a future date. For now, I want to thank 2013 for all the good and bad experiences I went through. I have no regrets and I am really looking forward to what’s coming next!

Cooking Panda


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set)

I’ve really fallen out of the habit of cooking in the past few years. It’s just been so busy with having a day job and also finding my groove as a parent. Plus, there is a pretty good variety of convenient and (mostly) healthy food where I live, so it’s simply been easier to eat out or get take out.

Today I finally had the time and opportunity to flex my culinary skills again. I enjoyed crafting a marinate for kalbi, aka Korean short rib BBQ.  It was fun!

For those interested, the recipe is below. My college roommate taught me this recipe many, many years ago :)

Kalbi Marinade for 3 lbs of beef
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sesame seed oil
Brown sugar to taste (for 1.5 cups of marinade, I will typically use about 1/4 cup of brown sugar)
1 chopped green onion
4 cloves of peeled and minced garlic
(Optional) 1/2 chopped kiwi
(Optional) 1/4 can of Coca-cola or Pepsi

Combine all of the above ingredients in a mixing cup or small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour over sliced beef short ribs (I typically put the beef in a large bowl), and mix thoroughly.  Cover the container with the marinated beef, and let it stand overnight.

This next part is also kind of optional, but I do it because I like my Korean BBQ to be a little bit on the sweeter side.  After the meat has been marinating overnight, spread it out into single layers in a new container (such as another bowl or a tupperware container). Between each layer, sprinkle brown sugar onto the meat. Let it sit at least another 2 hours.

To cook the beef, I usually broil it in the oven. I’ll turn it over once after a few minutes. You just have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  You can also of course grill it on the BBQ.

Battle of the Elements


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set)

I participated in a debate today where communication was challenging. We both presented our opinions, as is customary in debates, but had a lot of trouble reaching each other on the same level. When you add emotion to the mix, it can get even more layered and turbulent. The debate was quite stormy, but ultimately we found a way to get to common ground so that we could resolve the issue peacefully. Whew!

Communication is a funny thing. Two parties can speak the same language and use the same words, but still completely misunderstand each other. If only we could all be artists and literally draw out what we mean :)

Helpful Panda


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set)

I’ve been taking a break from working this week, and I’ve also taken my son Griffith out of daycare so that we can spend some family time together. We often don’t do anything special; just play with toys, eat snacks, and watch cheesy Disney movies on TV.

I am grateful every day that Griffith is growing up to be a healthy, happy, and helpful little boy, who gladly brings me his dishes into the kitchen. Next step will be getting him to wash them ;)

Trains, Planes and Angry Birds


(Artwork painted with a Sakura Koi Watercolor Pocket Set)

My 3 year-old son Griffith is finally of an age where he is aware of the holidays. It’s been a lot of fun showing him holiday decorations and getting him ready for the winter break with our family.

Of course, that also means that he finally is enjoying opening presents :) This year’s theme was Trains, Cars, and Angry Birds, all of which he claims he can never have too many of!  (Yes, a little different from the blog title, but you get the idea.)

I feel like I am also growing into the whole parent cliché, as I spent most of the morning of December 25th putting together toys rather than relaxing in front of the TV. It really is worth it to see the joy on Griffith’s face though, and I am truly cherishing these times with him.