demi: wc whitney menu w/ temperance pairing

I had the most amazing food and art experience a few weeks ago at Demi in Minneapolis. For months, I tried to get reservations to celebrate my baby sister’s birthday. Demi opens reservations for the following month on the first of the previous month. So on May 1st, I tried to get a reservation for June. I was about 2 minutes late and they were sold out. Alas, I tried again on June 1st to get a reservation in July. I was too picky on dates so once again, I lost out. Finally, on August 1st, I grabbed whichever date was available for a party of two and finally got a reservation for September. Therefore, we celebrated my sister’s June birthday at the end of September.

We talked with one of the cooks who just happens to be Hmong and he gave us a tip that if you miss out on booking online; which was the only way I thought we could book. He said that we could try calling. I also follow Demi on Instagram and saw that they put out notices when cancellations happen.

Everything was amazing!!! The bison steak was my least favorite dish and it was pretty darned good. We are not alcohol drinkers so we chose the temperance pairings and it really made the experience out of this world. Even though the place seems pretentious, the staff and cooks were so down to earth. The ongoing joke was that we were celebrating a birthday. This was our menu, subtitled, “early autumn, two thousand and nineteen”.

Courses: 1. corn broth 2. crudettes 3. quail egg 4. uni & scallop 5. b.l.t. & Deane’s Kombucha 6. hiramasa & plum soda 7. bayonne ham & melon 8. lake superior whitefish & apple cider 9. tortellini & finnochio 10. duck & lucile 11. bison ribeye & Red #3 12. landmark creamery ‘anabasque’ & leaf beer 13.cucumber and raspberry & mulled cider 14. black forest cake & spice and finally 15. mignardises

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur

We may have been too ambitious in our travels this week. In one day, we went from a remote island in Indonesia (Bintin) back to Singapore (easily the most modern city I’ve ever visited) to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

It was good to finally rest in our very nice hotel room at the Hilton. The bed was surprisingly comfortable even as my sister and I shared a king bed. The food in Malaysia is so unique but also so familiar. I was reminded of my own Hmong food in many ways.

Master bath finalized

Today I finalized my master bathroom. The first picture on the left was the original floor plan. I really wanted a bathtub even though I can’t remember the last time I took a bathtub. It’s 6.75′ by 15′. Also, I thought it would be worth it for resale. I realized that even with Aria claiming the other sink in the bathroom, I didn’t need an eight foot vanity and the one that I wanted is only about 61″ wide.

My builder didn’t think we could fit a tub in without putting in a wet room. I really wanted this option because I love the look of it, but the additional cost would have taken the bathroom $10K more than the first photo on the left. In case, you don’t know a wet room requires a customized bin and special glass. The additional tiling would also contribute to the cost. We both agreed that was too outrageous.

I couldn’t justify the additional cost and so I declined the design. I couldn’t shake the thought that I couldn’t fit a tub in that big of a bathroom so after a few days of thinking things over, I asked again if we could put the tub on the other side since we cut three feet from the vanity, could we fit a bathtub in that space? I am happy with the design that they came up with. What do you think of the final design?


We have a floor

I returned from my vacation to see that the construction crew had put the main floor on the house. I was pretty excited to see this. I have to admit though that I’ve had only sleepless nights since I’ve been back and I’m not sure if it’s still due to jet lag or if it’s the weight of being responsible for something of this nature. Regardless, I love sharing this with my girlie. She is my biggest supporter.

Bintin Island

On our second day, we set our sights on Bintin Island, a very rough 50 minute ferry ride from Singapore. I’ve never really experienced motion sickness at all until this ride. Confident it would be fun to hop on a boat to a remote island I was sadly mistaken. Once through immigration, we were quickly ushered into a rather nicely air conditioned waiting room for the Residences at Bintin. After arrival, the resort is about an 80 minute shuttle ride–make sure to let the resort know of your arrival in order to ensure shuttle transfer.

Upon arrival to the resort, each party is welcomed with tea and cool towel. With our own concierge. Your luggage is also taken at this time and awaits you when you get to your room. Our concierge made special effort to try to arrange for our later return on the ferry the next day as we gravely wished we could stay longer at this beautiful resort.  Sadly, we were unable to leave later. For some reason, we had not figured the long shuttle ride and how that would affect our morning return.


Pictures don’t do justice to how beautiful our suite was. The living room was very nice but was kind of a waste of space. However, the bedroom was a place I wanted to remain in all day. As beautiful as the resort was, the large king-sized bed was the most restful night we had on our entire trip.


This is the view to the front of our suite. Two cruisers were waiting for us to use. Our bungalow was quite a ways away from the main buildings though close to (the non-swimming part of ) the beach. Processed with VSCO with 2 preset

When we arrived in the room, some lovely oranges were waiting for us.30bc6b81-adcd-404e-8eeb-1d1e10632937

The view from the outdoor theater to the beach.


One dinner option was to eat out on the beach. In the far distance you can see the over the water hammocks. It was such a peaceful scene.bae52d95-f8dc-4400-9502-6158073c5cce

We didn’t get a proper chance to enjoy the infinity pool.1b2a9714-01c4-48bb-898b-80256049a19d

Here’s me trying to not bake in the heat.096a28a5-0f05-418a-9fd0-eb7b70051eca

We could hear the monkeys in the trees but they disappeared when we decided to ride on the swings. f911ea57-58d1-4dcb-94ea-c8811fa2b908

This was the lobby…sadly on our last morning.60585886-4790-47cf-9c55-2ff176009478

This was part of our buffet breakfast. Everything was delicious. I really love congee for breakfast and the fresh and amazing fruits.8f7b568b-aff4-4e6f-b49e-178b6f09287734851e28-19d9-438b-8a06-bb911be52b26

Destination: Singapore

I still can’t get over how time zones affect travel. It is amazing to me that I left MSP on 8/28 in the afternoon and it is now 8/30 in the morning, but when I talk to my kids at home, it’s still 8/29 in the evening. The photo below is out my window at some of the islands around South Korea.


In the time that I have been in transit, I have slept a combined total of about 10 hours. I’ve eaten like five meals (thank you to Delta and Korea Air for keeping me fed on my international flight).  I had three mini-meals on my 12.5 hour flight from MSP to ICN (Seoul) and one meal on my 6.5 hour flight from ICN to SIN (Singapore). I fell asleep for the first five hours on that flight and missed the meal but Korea Air left a sticker next to my screen to inform me that I could opt in at any time. They brought me my dinner with about one hour left on the flight. I also watched three movies: The Mustang (I am finding that I am a big fan of Matthias Schoenaerts — OMG that love story of his and Carrie Mulligan in “Far From the Madding Crowd” left me with all of the yearnings that I had for Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yoeh in “Crouching Tiger…”) and Avengers: End Game Yes…for the 6th time. I think it must be my favorite movie. I can’t remember the other movie right now…think I’m over tired.

Below is my favorite scene from End Game. It embodies the heart of a hero and almost has the feel of those Michelangelo paintings of good v. evil. Plus, I’ve become a huge fan of Chris Evans.  I think he’s my favorite Chris.


My layover in ICN was 6 hours. I was hoping to snag a nap room at the Transit Hotel but they were booked. I was in great need of a nap as I was not able to comfortably sleep on my 12.5 hour flight. I was in Comfort +, but the extra leg room was almost too much for my petite plus body size. I couldn’t find a position that didn’t end up in a cramp of some sort. Back to needing a nap. I stopped at the Korean Air Lounge and was desperate to pay for time but pleasantly surprised that I had access with my Platinum Skymiles Card with Delta. Even more surprised, I noticed that they had a Rest Room. Four loungers and three laying down electric massage chairs. I nabbed a lounger cube in the corner, put on my eye blinds and ear plugs and slept for 3 hours. When I woke up, I was the only person left.

There was also food and drinks and showers in the main area of the lounge. There is also a very nice bathroom complete with bidet. Normally, I don’t use them, but I felt compelled to try this time. I went and then wiped. I pressed the cleanse button and nothing came out so I stood up and was blasted with a steady stream of luke warm water on my back. Luckily, I had a sweater on and quickly moved out of the stream of water so my shirt was not soaked. I had to take my cardigan off though. Embarrassing!!!

When I arrived in SIN, it was my plan to get a room at the Ambassador Transit Lounge because I arrived at 5a in the morning. I had planned to book online but was not able to book the budget room so I was going to wing it…again. I am thankful that I didn’t actually book because I would not have been able to actually use the room since I learned that you can’t book them if you are not “transferring”. I was “arriving”. Arrival and departing airline information is required. Also, I forgot that I booked with Delta (Terminal 2) but was arriving with Korean Air. Two different terminals. There is nothing in the Korean Air terminal (Terminal 4).

So I buy my $21+ ($30 Singapore) SIM card that has 100GB of data on it and they pop it in for me and hand me a card with my American carrier’s SIM card taped to it neatly tucked into a plastic sleeve. I am good to go with communication now.  I text my hotel to see if I they will hold my luggage and what to expect in terms of cost for the taxi (no Uber here). They tell me $30. They are off. It was $42. Maybe they were telling me $30 US??? Who knows. Anyways, the taxi driver told me that my face looks Chinese. This is actually the first time I’ve ever been told that.


I walked in a downpour in a $3S poncho from the Seven 11 1.5 blocks to Straight’s Kitchen in the Grand Hyatt. Though all of the breakfast buffet items looked beautiful, only their fresh fruit and freshly squeezed drinks really impressed me. They had a huge array of Malaysian, South Indian and English/American breakfast items. All of it was a bit bland. I’ve had better in good ol’ Twin Cities. Above is the congee station toppings. I am on the fence about whether the delicious fruit was worth the $47S I spent on it.


I just got a text from my hotel that my room is ready early so I am checking in! Thank you Hilton Singapore. Now I think I’ll try to nap for a little before trying to figure out how to get to Sentosa Island before Stephanie arrives tonight. 🙂 Should I be offended that the texts keep referring to me as Mr. Yang when they’ve already met me???


Fresh start flow

About three weeks ago the foundation to my future home was poured. Three city sized lots were bought by Cornerstone Homes to build new homes in an established neighborhood. The city newsletter claims that new homes come few and far between. My house is the second one being built. I was interested in the middle lot that had not been poured yet so that I could design my own floor plan. Unfortunately, before I could commit to putting a deposit down, another couple scooped up that lot. Therefore I was left with adjusting part of the back of the house to meet our family’s daily flow.

You may not know this about me but in my career I design processes and systems that optimize the flow of work. It is just as important to understand the flow of your family when designing a home that works for you.

I asked for a couple extra feet over the back porch so that I could move the powder room to the mudroom area and expand it a little to include a closet. The old powder is now my personal office with a sliding door to maximize the space of the den where I am planning to have work spaces for the kids and a small sofa for relaxing. I also shortened my office so that I could add in a pantry.

In the future, I could then have the option to turn the den into a main floor bedroom with a walk in closet. The powder could be turned into 3/4 bath but making the mudroom smaller and losing the closet.

With the detached garage being in the alley, we will enter through the back. I liked the idea of having the kids’ den in the back so that they can drop their backpacks. I also sometimes work from home so I wanted my own dedicated spot so that I can take conference calls and close the door when they have friends over.